Pairings | Pasta, rice & noodles
If you’re wondering what to drink with noodles you need to think about the way and the flavours with which they’re cooked rather than the fact that they’re noodles. (Yes, I know pasta counts as noodles too but I’m thinking more of Asian recipes
Talking about wine matches for risotto is a bit like talking about wine with pasta - it’s depends on the other ingredients you use, not the rice.
What wine should you pair with your favourite pasta? As you might guess it depends on the sauce rather than the pasta shape.
Spaghetti puttanesca - or 'whore’s spaghetti' to translate it literally - is a full-flavoured pasta dish with strong, punchy flavours but which wine should you pair with it?
Given the arguments about how to make a bolognese sauce it’s hardly surprising there should be a difference of opinion about what wine to serve with spaghetti bolognese but here’s what I would go for:
When we think of pairing wine with lasagna (or lasagne, whichever way you spell it) it’s probably the meaty version that’s uppermost in our minds but these days, as you know, there are many variations. As with pasta sauces, then, your wine choice should reflect the other ingredients in the dish.
As with pasta the best wine to pair with gnocchi is all about the sauce rather than the gnocchi itself. You want a different wine if you’re serving it with a creamy sauce than if you’re serving it with a simple tomato one.
There’s a lot of talk about how the wines of a region tend to match its food but that seems truer of Tuscany than almost anywhere else.
Spaghetti carbonara - spaghetti with a creamy bacon and egg sauce - is one of my all-time favourite pasta dishes but what’s the best wine pairing for it?
Last week I had three dishes that went unexpectedly well with sparkling wine - for slightly different reasons:
That pinot grigio is many people's favourite white wine should come as no surprise - it’s a refreshing, versatile wine that pairs really well with light, summery food and ever-popular Italian staples such as pasta and risotto.
The ideal pairing does of course depend on how you make your spaghetti alle vongole - the classic Italian dish of spaghetti with white wine and clams - but in my book, the answer is simple: a young, unoaked, Italian white wine.
The food of Piedmont in north-west Italy is as highly regarded as its wines so it makes sense to make the local dishes your first choice if you’re looking for a match for a bottle of Barolo or Barbaresco.
Following my trip to Islay a while ago I drew up some pairings for its extraordinary peaty whiskies. I’m not a great one for whisky dinners but I like the idea of serving tapa-sized dishes with a dram.
People carp about food and beer pairings, griping that they're just made up pretentions that have no right being associated with something as inclusive and democratic as beer, writes Stephen Beaumont
Crab is one of the most delicious kinds of shellfish and the perfect foil for a crisp white wine. But there are other crab dishes that pair better with a fuller-bodied white or even a red.
If you've always thought cooking for yourself is a bit dispiriting buy Signe Johansen's book Solo which is full of delicious and inspiring recipes like this zingy pad thai-ish dish of prawn noodles.
After the carbfest that is Christmas I fancy clean spicy flavours in January so leapt on this easy, delicious dish from Claire Thomson's The Art of the Larder.
A clever little recipe from Jack Monroe's brilliant new book Cooking on a Bootstrap which would be perfect for a shared student house or anyone on a tight budget.
Some of the best meals - and the best wine pairings - come about without a great deal of forethought. Like the pasta I threw together last week in France from storecupboard ingredients then accompanied with a cracking bottle of inexpensive Tuscan red we’d just bought from a winemaker at a natural wine fair. Yes, Italian wine. In France! Who’d have thought it?
Although chardonnay is grown practically everywhere that grows grapes (with notable exceptions such as Bordeaux) it’s not a variety you may associate with Italy. But the country produces some fine examples and Isole e Olena’s Collezione Privata is one.
Thanks to my friend Signe Johansen of Scandilicious I finally got to Koya in Frith Street the other day - London’s food bloggers most popular noodle haunt and the winner of last year’s Observer Food Monthly’s Best Cheap Eats award.
What happens when you choose a wine to pair with a particular dish and the dish doesn’t materialise? Well, if you’re lucky it matches equally well.
Traditionally it’s been difficult to find a pairing for noodle dishes, especially soup noodles which have the triple drawback of being hot, sour and wet. But the other night at Alan Yau’s new restaurant Cha Cha Moon (of which more to follow when I do my round-up of new London openings) I had a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail which really hit the spot.
An unusually complicated recipe for this site but one which should be absolutely worth the effort. It comes from Phil Howard's fantastic The Square: The Cookbook volume 1 which I suspect is already well-thumbed in many restaurant kitchens.
When I’m not writing about food and wine matching I’m writing a book - and a blog - about budget eating called The Frugal Cook. So this week’s match is a chance discovery with a scratch supper I knocked up last night (for which you can find the recipe on the blog)
Although I think the difficulty of matching troublesome ingredients with wine is overrated that’s not true in the case of chilli which is an integral part of many Szechuan dishes. The tofu noodle hotpot I had at my local Chilli Daddy in Bristol at the weekend was definitely a case in point.
Yesterday I had lunch with some old friends in a chic little Italian restaurant called Trenta. It’s in in the upwardly mobile neighbourhood just west of Edgware Road in London into which Tony and Cherie Blair have just moved. (It also has a Jimmy Choo shop two doors down. It’s that kind of ‘hood)
If you’re a bit hesitant about the idea of matching fish and red wine you might automatically think of pairing paella with a white wine. But I think it goes just as well with a rosé or a red.
Most of the pairings in this weekly slot are chosen for the way they flatter food but here’s one that’s designed to show off a very special wine: a 2010 Argentinian Pinot Noir called Chacra Cinquenta Cinca or Chacra 55.
This past week has reminded me yet again what a great match Italian whites are for food. Their lack of obvious character means they tend not to stand out in a tasting but they explode into life with a dish.
A really robust pasta dish from my book Cooking with Wine - perfect for cold weather eating. The wine gives a richer, more warming flavour than the usual tomato-based sauce.
I always think it's hard to improve on macaroni cheese but adding crab, which my mate Fiona Sims has done in her brilliant new The Boat Cookbook, is an inspired touch.
I didn’t have plans to go to Greece this year but staying in the UK for the summer has given me itchy feet so I’m cooking my way round the Med instead.
When did you last see cannelloni on a menu? It was one of my favourite dishes when I was growing up then it seemed to vanish into the mists of time so it’s good to see it back at the boys from the Clove Club’s new restaurant Luca.
A lovely Venetian pasta recipe from Jacob Kennedy’s fantastic Bocca di Lupo cookbook which was shortlsted for Best Cookery Book in last year's Guild of Food Writer Awards.
A slightly obscure pairing this week from the Lombardy region of Italy, the focus for an absolutely brilliant pop-up supper I went to at Wild Artichokes in Kingsbridge last Friday.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Rueda, a sauvignon-style wine from the north of Spain, but seem to have been drinking it non-stop since I arrived in Malaga.
I’ve never known quite what wine to pair with cacio e pepe, the fashionable pasta dish that’s just based on cheese (usually pecorino) and cracked pepper.
Romanian wines may not be on your radar but judging by this incredibly delicious red you should look out for them.
I stumbled across a recipe for cooking spaghetti in red wine when I was researching my latest book Wine lover's kitchen. It sounded so bizarre I had to give it a try and can vouch for the fact that it’s delicious! It would be a bit expensive to make for a crowd so this quantity is designed to feed 2–3. And my version is dairy-free.
The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season’s vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.
Despite the emphasis that winemakers place on the different crus or terroirs of Chablis three factors seem to me to influence a food match more than any other for most of the Chablis you’ll taste - the age of the wine, the vintage and the degree of oak influence, if any.
The other day I found myself at a meeting just round the corner from the newly opened Princess Victoria in Shepherds Bush in West London and popped in for lunch. It’s a splendid old building with a wonderfully baroque ceiling, one of the best I’ve ever seen in a pub.
I must confess I’ve never associated German wines with pasta dishes especially ones based on summer vegetables like tomatoes and peppers but then I haven’t come across many genuinely dry German wines in Italian restaurants before.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect an Italian dish like pumpkin ravioli to pair with a Portuguese white but the match was just perfect.
There’s still a tendency to think of sherry as an aperitif or just for drinking with tapas but it can go really well with a more substantial dish as I was reminded this week.
Spaghetti carbonara is one of my favourite pasta recipes so it seemed a brilliant idea to alleviate the boredom of lockdown by having a ‘carbonara night’ with some friends on Zoom.
Spaghetti and meatballs is a really rich pasta dish you need to wash down with a refreshing red - preferably Italian.
Having ended up unexpectedly in hospital last week I struggled a bit to find a match of the week. Water doesn’t make the most inspiring pairing for food although it (the food in hospital) isn't by any means as bad as it used to be. So I’ll tell you about the the dish I had before I was taken ill.
Like other dishes the perfect wine match for risotto depends on the flavourings for the risotto rather than the rice itself - the lighter the dish, the ligher and fresher the wine.
A really lovely summery dish from Marianna Leivaditaki of Morito's Aegean: Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea. The tip of roasting the prawn shells before you make the stock is genius though, having made it, I think you can get away with using fewer of the other ingredients in the stock - see my note at the bottom of the recipe.
This recipe, the subject of my Match of the Week, was so delicious I've persuaded Christine Smallwood, whose lovely book An Appetite for Lombardy it comes from, to share it on the site.
I’ve written before about pairing wine with Chinese food - and so have some of my contributors but here’s a slightly different way of going about it that may help you decide which bottle to choose and make your pairings more successful. It involves deciding which flavours are predominant in a dish or selection of dishes.
Artichokes have the reputation of being a wine-killer but as with most of these diktats the problem is over-played. True, artichokes can make even dry whites taste oddly sweet but that doesn’t account for the different ways in which they are cooked and how they are served.
The book I’ve been looking forward to most so far this year has just started being serialised in the Guardian today. It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi who founded two exceptional London restaurants and is simply called Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. l love Ottolenghi's food - it’s so generous and big-flavoured, piled high on bright, colourful platters - you can't fail to be tempted by it. It also lends itself perfectly to entertaining for large numbers at home.
I’m beginning to get Christmassed-out already so this week’s pairing is not the very old madeira and Comté I had last night, amazing though that was, but a steaming, spicy bowl of ramen and an Asahi Super Creamy Head beer I enjoyed at Bone Daddies Ramen earlier in the week.
“Tender little dumplings, as fragile as a pasta filling” is how Diana Henry describes gnudi in her fabulous new book How to Eat a Peach. (The word, which is pronounced new-dee means naked)
If you were thinking of a wine pairing for risotto you’d probably reach for an Italian white such as a Pinot Grigio but Spain’s famous Galician white Albarino works equally well as I discovered the other day.
Nero d’avola may not be a grape variety you’re familiar with but in a recent blind tasting of 25,000 consumers carried out by Majestic it proved by far the most popular choice
I realised the other day that there’s a marked French bias to this site. Partly because I spend a fair bit of time in France but also, I have to admit, because I do enjoy drinking French wine. So here, in an attempt to redress the balance and to celebrate Australia Day is an unusual but highly successful Aussie pairing.
It’s not often that I choose from a menu based on the wine I’m drinking but then I don’t often drink wines good enough to justify that - in restaurants at least where mark-ups tend to make the best wines unaffordable.
The more, er ... mature ... among you may remember when you went to an Italian restaurant and found a round straw-covered bottle of Chianti on the table, often with a guttering candle stuck in the neck and wax (always red) dripping down the side. It’s rather weirdly called a fiasco - which is Italian for flask as well as referring to a disaster. Like Brexit. Or Boris.
One of the aspects of the World’s Best Sommelier competition I hadn’t really thought about is how on earth you create a menu for a roomful of sommeliers. And choose wine pairings they won’t be sniffy about. One way is to impress them with large format bottles and old vintages which is the route competition sponsor Moët et Chandon took . . .
With Chinese new year coming up this weekend you may be planning a trip to a Chinese restaurant or planning a Chinese meal at home. But which wine to serve?
If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.
If you've bough a bottle of English wine to celebrate St George's Day or English Wine Week you may be wondering what sort of food suits it best.
I know I’ve highlighted crab as a match for a number of different wines but it really is a great dish to pick if you’re drinking a serious white. This time however the wine was far from stellar: the basic house Sauvignon at Culinaria in Bristol where I was doing a photo shoot for our next book.
I’ve always thought of gewürztraminer as a bit of an inflexible wine - brilliant with spicy food. rich patés and pongy cheese but not much else. However it went brilliantly with several dishes at my local, Bellita in Bristol the other day including a classic Italian dish of pumpkin gnocchi with sage and brown butter.
Having spent 3 days in Bordeaux last week I’m spoilt for choice about my match of the week but I’m going for one of the less obvious pairings (so not Pauillac and lamb!).
I went to a Piemontese wine dinner last week at a local Italian restaurant in Bristol, Prosecco about which I’ve written before. There were some very good matches - along with a couple of off-key ones, one of which involved a faulty bottle which the wine merchant introducing the event seemed determined to disregard despite grumblings from the floor.
This week is British Cheese Week - and, by the looks of it, the start of autumn proper - so what better time to rustle up a macaroni cheese (or mac and cheese as they call it in the US)?
As those of you who follow me on Twitter (as winematcher) will know I’ve been in New York this week and have a huge number of interesting wine and other matches to tell you about but the most unexpectedly successful - and therefore my pairing of the week - was a match of macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling.
When I flicked through the pictures I’d taken of the wines I’d drunk over Christmas and the New Year I realised there was a LOT of champagne. Partly because I’d been given or shared some rather nice bottles but equally because champagne goes with practically everything from oysters to shepherds pie (as the novelist Jeffrey Archer famously established).
Last Thursday’s dinner to celebrate Decanter’s 2018 Man of the Year, Eduardo Chadwick of Viña Errazuriz was a treat - a line-up of the winery’s very best wines. It was obviously sound thinking to pair two of his top reds, the Don Maximiliano Founder’s Reserve 2014 and Kai 2005 with fillet of beef but I thought the more intriguing match was the first course of langoustine ravioli with their 2015 Las Pizarras chardonnay.
I agonised over which match to highlight this week - there were so many good ones, especially from my trip to the Jura which I’ll report on in the next couple of days but I’ve gone for this intriguing and off the wall pairing from a seasonal wine dinner at Lido in Bristol on Saturday night.
Even if you're not a fan of the blockbuster style of Chardonnay still favoured by many producers you have to admit it meets its match in butternut squash. Why? Because the rich sweetness of the squash kicks the sometimes over-exuberant tropical fruit and vanilla-scented oak into touch and magically transforms them into an elegant, refreshing glassful.