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Pairings

Pairings | Pasta, rice & noodles

Wines to match different pasta sauces

Wines to match different pasta sauces

As you might imagine it doesn’t make any difference what shape of pasta you’re dealing with, what counts with wine is the flavour of the sauce. There are too many to mention, but here are the main types you’re likely to come across.

Spicy tuna pasta and Tuscan red

Spicy tuna pasta and Tuscan red

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?

Pasta with truffles and chardonnay

Pasta with truffles and chardonnay

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.

Cold sesame noodles and weissbier

Cold sesame noodles and weissbier

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.

Pasta arrabbiata with sangiovese

Pasta arrabbiata with sangiovese

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.

Guava Collins and Singapore Noodles

Guava Collins and Singapore Noodles

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.

Risotto of smoked haddock, leeks and cauliflower with a vadouvan dressing

Risotto of smoked haddock, leeks and cauliflower with a vadouvan dressing

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.

Pasta with Stilton and onion sauce and a new wave Spanish red

Pasta with Stilton and onion sauce and a new wave Spanish red

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)

Bardolino Chiaretto and seafood pasta

Bardolino Chiaretto and seafood pasta

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)

Chacra '55' Patagonian Pinot Noir and mushroom risotto

Chacra '55' Patagonian Pinot Noir and mushroom risotto

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.

Pasta with pesto and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

Pasta with pesto and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

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.

The best wine pairings for spaghetti puttanesca

The best wine pairings for spaghetti puttanesca

Spaghetti puttanesca - or 'whore’s spaghetti' as it’s otherwise known - is a punchy pasta dish with strong, salty flavours but which wine should you match with it?

Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce

Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce

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.

Crab macaroni cheese

Crab macaroni cheese

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.

The best food matches for Amarone

The best food matches for Amarone

A recent lunch* and discussion hosted by Masi at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner gave a revealing glimpse of what the best food pairings for amarone might be.

Cannelloni and Refosco

Cannelloni and Refosco

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.

Tagliolini au Gratin with Prawns and Treviso

Tagliolini au Gratin with Prawns and Treviso

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.

6 of the best matches for spaghetti bolognese

6 of the best matches for spaghetti bolognese

Given the arguments about how to make a bolognese sauce it’s hardly surprising there should be a difference of opinion about what to drink with spaghetti bolognese but here’s what I would go for:

Pizzocheri and Valtellina

Pizzocheri and Valtellina

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.

Fideos negros con calamaritos with alioli and Rueda

Fideos negros con calamaritos with alioli and Rueda

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.

Wine of the week: Cramele Recas ‘Sole’ Shiraz/Feteasca Neagra 2015

Wine of the week: Cramele Recas ‘Sole’ Shiraz/Feteasca Neagra 2015

Romanian wines may not be on your radar but judging by this incredibly delicious red you should look out for them.

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

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.

Matching food and Chablis

Matching food and Chablis

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.

Tags: grand cru premier cru white burgundy burgundy Chardonnay Chablis drink:white wine jambon persillé andouillette charcuterie premier cru white burgundy burgundy Chardonnay Chablis drink:white wine andouillette jambon persillé food:pork charcuterie food:pork rabbit rabbit rabbit with mustard rabbit with mustard lapin à la moutarde lapin à la moutarde old Gouda old Gouda Vieux Comté Vieux Comté ceps Epoisses ceps Soumaintrain Soumaintrain Epoisses washed-rind cheese washed-rind cheese pheasant pheasant guinea fowl guinea fowl chicken chicken roast chicken roast chicken halibut halibut Dover sole Dover sole turbot turbot crab crab scallops scallops goats cheese Chaource Chaource sashimi goats cheese sashimi sushi sushi seafood risotto seafood risotto fish stew fish stew fish pie fish pie oeufs en meurette oeufs en meurette mayonnaise mayonnaise salmon salmon grilled fish grilled fish poached fish poached fish puréed vegetable soup puréed vegetable soup vegetable soup vegetable soup garlic butter garlic butter prawns prawns snails snails fried fish fried fish gougons gougons chips chips fish fish fish and chips fish and chips mussels mussels moules marinières clams moules marinières clams spaghetti alla vongole spaghetti alla vongole food:pasta, rice & noodles food:pasta, rice & noodles seafood seafood shellfish shellfish oysters oysters cheesy nibbles cheesy nibbles gougères gougères cheese cheese food:fish & shellfish food:fish & shellfish food:chicken & poultry food:chicken & poultry food:soups & starters food:soups & starters pork chops old Chablis mature Chablis mature wine ham with parsley ham food:soups & starters food:chicken & poultry food:fish & shellfish cheese gougères cheesy nibbles oysters shellfish seafood food:pasta, rice & noodles spaghetti alla vongole clams moules marinières mussels fish and chips fish chips gougons fried fish snails prawns garlic butter vegetable soup puréed vegetable soup poached fish grilled fish salmon mayonnaise oeufs en meurette fish pie fish stew seafood risotto sushi sashimi goats cheese Chaource scallops crab turbot Dover sole halibut roast chicken chicken guinea fowl pheasant washed-rind cheese Epoisses Soumaintrain ceps Vieux Comté old Gouda grand cru pork chops old Chablis mature Chablis mature wine ham with parsley ham food:soups & starters food:chicken & poultry food:fish & shellfish cheese gougères cheesy nibbles oysters shellfish seafood food:pasta, rice & noodles spaghetti alla vongole clams moules marinières mussels fish and chips fish chips gougons fried fish snails prawns garlic butter vegetable soup puréed vegetable soup poached fish grilled fish salmon mayonnaise oeufs en meurette fish pie fish stew seafood risotto sushi sashimi goats cheese Chaource scallops crab turbot Dover sole halibut roast chicken chicken guinea fowl pheasant washed-rind cheese Epoisses Soumaintrain ceps Vieux Comté old Gouda lapin à la moutarde rabbit with mustard rabbit food:pork charcuterie jambon persillé andouillette drink:white wine Chablis Chardonnay burgundy white burgundy premier cru grand cru pork chops old Chablis mature Chablis mature wine ham with parsley ham lapin à la moutarde rabbit with mustard rabbit food:pork charcuterie jambon persillé andouillette drink:white wine Chablis Chardonnay burgundy white burgundy premier cru grand cru pork chops old Chablis mature Chablis mature wine ham with parsley ham
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6 of my favourite pairings for pinot grigio

6 of my favourite pairings for pinot grigio

The news that pinot grigio has leapfrogged merlot to become the third most popular grape variety in the US is confirmation that, despite its critics, it’s gaining rather than losing fans.

Smoked trout and artichoke linguini with a dry Pfalz Riesling

Smoked trout and artichoke linguini with a dry Pfalz Riesling

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.

Rheinhessen silvaner and penne with tomatoes and peppers

Rheinhessen silvaner and penne with tomatoes and peppers

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.

Pumpkin ravioli and a Douro white

Pumpkin ravioli and a Douro white

You wouldn’t necessarily expect an Italian dish like pumpkin ravioli to pair with a Portuguese white but the match was just perfect.

 Spaghetti and meatballs and Nerello Mascalese

Spaghetti and meatballs and Nerello Mascalese

Spaghetti and meatballs is a really rich pasta dish you need to wash down with a refreshing red - preferably Italian.

Which wine to drink with paella?

Which wine to drink with paella?

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.

Mamma Lucinda’s Pizzoccheri

Mamma Lucinda’s Pizzoccheri

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.

The best wine pairings for spaghetti alle vongole

The best wine pairings for spaghetti alle vongole

It 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 best food pairings for Barolo and Barbaresco

The best food pairings for Barolo and Barbaresco

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.

10 food pairings for peaty whiskies

10 food pairings for peaty whiskies

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.

Wines - and other drinks - to match recipes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook

Wines - and other drinks - to match recipes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook

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.

Tantamen ramen and Asahi Super Creamy Head

Tantamen ramen and Asahi Super Creamy Head

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.

Smoked haddock and leek risotto and Albarino

Smoked haddock and leek risotto and Albarino

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.

Kedgeree and Western Australia Semillon

Kedgeree and Western Australia Semillon

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.

A Champagne dinner fit for sommeliers

A Champagne dinner fit for sommeliers

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 . . .

What to drink with lasagne

What to drink with lasagne

When we talk about lasagne it’s probably the meaty version that’s uppermost in most people’s minds but these days there are many different kinds. Here are my favourite wine pairings:

What to drink with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipes

What to drink with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipes

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.

Six of the best matches for Bacchus and other dry English white wines

Six of the best matches for Bacchus and other dry English white wines

If you've visited a winery and bought a few English or Welsh whites to celebrate English wine week this week you may be wondering what sort of food suits them best.

Scallop and crab risotto with inexpensive French Sauvignon

Scallop and crab risotto with inexpensive French Sauvignon

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.

Prawn raviole and white Bordeaux

Prawn raviole and white Bordeaux

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!).

Mushroom risotto with Barbera

Mushroom risotto with Barbera

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.

Macaroni cheese and Montagne-St-Emilion

Macaroni cheese and Montagne-St-Emilion

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)?

Macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling

Macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling

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.

Lobster macaroni cheese and Ruinart champagne

Lobster macaroni cheese and Ruinart champagne

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).

Cauliflower tortellini with hazelnuts and 10 year old Muscadet

Cauliflower tortellini with hazelnuts and 10 year old Muscadet

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.

Butternut squash and barrel-fermented Chardonnay

Butternut squash and barrel-fermented Chardonnay

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.

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