Pairings | R
As with most foods, the best wine pairing with pork depends how the pork is cooked, and what it’s served with.
It’s true that lamb is one of the most wine-friendly of meats, as at home with red Bordeaux and Rioja as it is with the fruitier wines of the new world. But if you’re looking for a spot-on wine pairing it’s worth thinking just how - and for how long - you’re going to cook it.
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.
As with white burgundy there’s a world of difference between a simple village burgundy and an elegant premier or grand cru - most of which need 5 years at the very least to show at their best but the dividing line when it comes to pairing wine with red burgundy is age. Is it a light wine you’re dealing with or a more mature, intensely flavoured one. Duck is almost always a winner but here are some other options.
Pinot noir is one of the most versatile red wines to match with food and a great option in a restaurant when one of you is eating meat and the other fish.
What most people probably think of in terms of Australian red wine is a Barossa or McLaren Vale shiraz - big, lush, sweet and ripe, the ideal pairing for grilled or barbecued beef. Hunter Valley shiraz typically has a more savoury character that suits meats like venison and kangaroo while Western Australian shiraz is made in a more elegant style, almost like a red Bordeaux, making it a good pairing for lamb.
Steak is the ideal foil for a good red but is there a best red wine for steak? You could simply say it’s the one you most enjoy but it also depends on the cut and the way you cook it.
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
Salmon is in many ways the chicken of the fish world - an ingredient you can serve in many different ways and therefore match with a number of different wines.
Merlot has one of the widest ranges of styles of any red wine from the light, quaffable merlots of the Veneto to the grandest of Bordeaux. Obviously one type of food doesn’t go with them all but merlot is your flexible friend when it comes to wine pairing, smoother, rounder and less tannic than cabernet sauvignon with which, of course, it is often blended.
If you’re looking for the ideal food pairing for cabernet sauvignon you don’t have to look very far. Almost any red meat, especially served rare, is going to do the trick.
Asking which wine to pair with salad is a bit like asking about what wine to match with meat or fish. There's no single answer. It depends on the vegetables you use, what other ingredients it contains and what type of dressing you use.
Chicken pie - or chicken pot pie - must be one of everyone’s favourite meals but what sort of drink goes with it best? Wine, beer or cider?
Good news! The best wine with chicken can be either red or white - it depends on your own personal taste and the way it’s cooked.
If you want a simple guideline as to which wine to pair with tuna think first about the way that it’s cooked - is it rare, seared or preserved (canned or bottled)? Then think of the style of the dish. Does it incorporate Japanese flavours? Are there other ingredients on the plate that might influence the match such as a citrussy glaze or salsa?
What wine should you pair with your favourite pasta? As you might guess it depends on the sauce rather than the pasta shape.
Roast chicken. Possibly everyone’s favourite Sunday roast. It can take a red or a white wine so the key thing to focus on is what flavourings - or stuffing - you put with it and the sides you serve.
Coq au vin (chicken in wine) is of course cooked in wine - usually red wine - so does that mean you should pair it with the wine you've used to cook it in?
Fishcakes are one of the ultimate comfort foods - but is there an equally comforting wine pairing?
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
A re-run of an old post following a visit to Alsace, updating my recommendations on the best pairings for the region's dry and off-dry white wines.
None of you, I’m sure, can have failed to notice just how many different bottles of rosé are now available on the average supermarket shelf. From being purely a summer wine there are now rosés for almost every type of food and occasion.
Today is International Grenache Day, a celebration of a grape which is (often anonymously) responsible for some of the most generous and appealing reds in the wine world.
If you're planning a special meal for Valentine's Day you may be wondering which wine to pair with your menu. I've picked some favourite Valentine's Day foods and suggested some matches that should work well with them.
We automatically think of matching wine and cheese or beer and cheese but there are many drinks that work just as well and can give a real ‘wow factor’ to your cheeseboard.
With Wimbledon kicking off this week, I’m sure you’ll be enjoying a bowlful or two of strawberries. But what to drink with them?
Now that winter is firmly upon us it's time to head for the kitchen and knock up a rich beef stew or casserole and leave it simmering for hours.
Many people say they don't like chardonnay but as anyone who has a taste for top white burgundy or other premium new world chardonnays will know it’s a spectacular food wine.
Provence rosé has a particular character. It’s much crisper and drier than most rosés on the market, more like a white wine than a rosé - though within this style there are variations between the lighter, less expensive wines or ‘vins de soif’ and the more structured ones, which the local refer to as ‘vins de gastronomie’.
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.
Cheese and wine is a notorious minefield but is it any easier when the cheese is cooked? See my suggestions to match Mark Hix's delicious recipes in the Independent today:
Sunday marked not only the start of the Chinese New Year but the Vietnamese New Year celebrations too - known as Tet. As in China there are certain foods which are traditional to the occasion such as pickled vegetables and candied fruits, none of which are particularly wine-friendly but in general I find Vietnamese food, with its milder heat and fragrant herbal flavours easier to match than Thai (although I haven’t had such extensive experience of doing so).
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
Whenever anyone talks about foods that are difficult to match with wine, asparagus always comes up but I reckon the problem is overstated.
Natasha Hughes re-orders her hit list of wine matches for pinot following her visit to the International Pinot Noir Celebration.
If you’re planning a Pancake Day celebration for Tuesday and haven’t yet decided what to drink here are few ideas.
Malbec has become so popular it may have become one of your favourite red wines but what are the best kind of dishes to pair with it?
Chocolate is supposed to be impossible to match with wine but like any other ingredient it depends on the chocolate and how it’s used.
You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.
Should you drink wine or beer with pizza? No rights or wrongs, obviously but here are a few thoughts which might encourage you to experiment.
I sometimes think partridge is my favourite game bird - less full-on and ‘gamey’ than pheasant, more subtle and delicate than chicken. But what wine should you drink with it?
With the Thai New Year celebrations coming up you may well be planning to eat in a Thai restaurant or host a Thai meal at home. But which drinks pair best with a Thai food?
This is the perfect time of year for buying oranges and lemons but what effect do they have on the recipes you’re making? Quite a marked one, if truth be told. Lemons in particular have a high level of acidity which will make any wine you drink with them taste sweeter. If that’s counterbalanced in the recipe by sugar as in a lemon tart or lemon meringue pie, for example, the result is a dish that’s really quite hard to match.
There’s such an obvious wine match for lobster (great chardonnay) that you might wonder if it was worth considering anything else but there are other interesting alternatives.
“Can you come up with a tastier, more satisfying, more consensual dish than calamari fritti?” asks restaurateur and Guardian columnist Yotam Ottolenghi in the paper today. Well, it’s a tough call but his other mouthwatering recipes would certainly run it close. Ottolenghi’s food is full of flavour and therefore quite a challenge for any accompanying wine but here’s what I would choose.
Cherry is one of the fruit flavours most often found in wine and liqueurs so does that make them a good pairing for cherry desserts? It depends how intense the cherry flavour is.
The most useful clue to the kind of wine that works with cheesecake is to think of the toppings and flavourings that are used in cheesecake recipes rather than the base.
There’s no doubt about it, trifle is tricky. If it includes booze already do you serve more on the side? And what kind of booze should that be?
You may not be familiar with Carmenère but it's a delicious red at this chilly time of year.
Now that we're back into months with an 'r' in them it's time to enjoy oysters again. But what’s the best wine - or beer - to pair with them?
Sauvignon blanc is many people's favourite wine but what type of food pairs with it best?
The thing you need to ask yourself when you’re wondering which wine - or other drink - to pair with Mexican food is what kind of Mexican. Authentic Mexican or Tex Mex?
Although Bordeaux produces some of the most expensive wines in the world it also produces bottles that are great for everyday drinking. So what kind of food pairs best with them?
Viognier (pronounced vee-on-yee-ay) is a rich, exotically fruity white wine, sometimes achieving quite high levels of alcohol so what are the ideal foods to pair with it?
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
Smoked salmon is most commonly associated with champagne but in fact it goes with many other wines as well as with beer, whisky and vodka.
The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.
Last night we opened a bottle of 2005 Nugan Estate McLaren Parish Vineyard Shiraz - a typically big lush Aussie red at a hefty 15% ABV.
If anyone still needs convincing about the virtues of food and wine matching Mark Hix’s fresh seasonal recipes in The Independent today should convince them. Even the ‘drink what you like with the food you like’ brigade would have to admit that a voluptuous Meursault or oak-aged white Bordeaux would totally overwhelm the flavours of raw food.
I have a bit of a problem with pumpkin pie. I'm not a big fan of pumpkin and I don't have a massively sweet tooth which makes the thought of partnering it with a sweet wine a bit of a killer. But I know I'm in a minority and with Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday here are my top picks:
Being surrounded by peaches and nectarines at the moment has reminded me what a brilliant match they are for a glass of dessert wine. And, surprisingly, even for a red!
I posted this last year after trying Rijsttafel - the Indonesian speciality that’s widely available in Amsterdam. Translated literally as ‘rice table’, it’s an elaborate array of curries, salads and pickles which present a tough challenge for any wine.
Fennel is one of the handful of vegetables that can influence a main course pairing - almost always for the better. Its aniseed flavour seems to have a pronounced affinity with many wines, especially whites. Here are some suggested matches with recipes that two British chefs have published this weekend - Gordon Ramsay in the Times and Skye Gyngell in the Independent on Sunday.
A chocolate yule log or 'buche de Noël has become an increasingly popular dessert at Christmas but what kind of wine should you pair with it?
Like any other red South Africa's Pinotage comes in different styles - some lighter and fruitier than others. When you're matching it with food you take a cue from the sort of ingredients and dishes that go with its two ancestors - Pinot Noir and Cinsault.
If you’ve decided to serve goose rather than turkey this Christmas you’ve already opted to be adventurous. So you could arguably be adventurous about your wine (or other drink) pairing too.
Since goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are such a great match it might seem redundant to think of anything else but despite its reputation for being . . . well . . . goaty, goats cheese is easy to pair with other wines.
Last night we had a fun five course wine and food matching dinner at Rockfish Grill in Bristol which showed the range of wines you can match with fish. Here’s a few thoughts about how we approached it for those of you who are organising a similar event.
If you’re the kind of person (like me) who puts garlic into practically everything you cook you may regard this question as an irrelevance but some dishes are much more garlicky than others.
Of all the different aspects of wine and food matching I write about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial. What type of wine works best, and indeed whether you should drink wine at all is the subject of endlessly heated exchanges. The subject has recently come up again with the introduction of a number of wines that are specifically designed to go with spicy food. Was this, at last, the solution?
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
Meatballs are essentially comfort food so you don’t want to drink anything too fancy with them but you do need something equally delicious - usually red in my book
The best wine to pair with macaroni cheese, or macaroni and cheese as our friends across the pond have it, depends how fancy - and how cheesy - your mac and cheese is.
Winemakers like to tell you that their wines go with everything but in the case of Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s best known white wine, it’s true.
One of the all-time favourite British desserts sticky toffee pudding is super-sweet so will overwhelm most wines you might think of pairing with it so what should you choose?
It might surprise you to hear it - and maybe you’ve never tried it - but a serious red wine is a really good match for a burger. Not a Maccy D, maybe but a big lush gourmet burger. And why not?
Although there are obviously differences between the two types of beer, dark stouts and porters tend to pair with similar types of food. Here are my top matches ...
Pear cider - also known as perry - has a different taste from apple cider. It’s generally lighter, drier and more fragrant, a better match for delicate ingredients like fish.
One of the world's most popular cheeses, Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour so you need to adapt the wine - or other drink - you choose to how mature the cheese is.
White burgundy includes a multitude of wines from generic bourgogne blanc to the grandeur of a Bâtard-Montrachet or Corton-Charlemagne. But it’s the affordable wines that I’m focussing on in this post. What type of food do they pair with best?
Seabass is one of the most popular fish on restaurant menus these days - usually treated quite simply and rarely sauced. But what wine should you pair with it?
As with many other pairings the best match for steak pie depends how you cook it and whether the sauce includes beer, stock or wine
If you're serving a ham or gammon as a roast this Christmas you need a more substantial wine with it than when you serve ham as a cold cut. Which one depends on the glaze.
Asking which wine is the best match for Chinese food is a bit like looking for the best match for European food - it in no way reflects the diversity of Chinese cuisine.
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.
It’s tough to say what the best wine matches for lamb are - it’s served so many different ways and there are so many wines (mainly red) that work but here are my five favourites.
Given that whisky is generally considered the most appropriate match for haggis I thought it would be interesting to check out what Britain’s top whisky experts have to recommend for Burns Night:
Just as with every other ingredient the ideal pairing for mussels depends how you cook them, starting with the classic moules marinières.
Mangoes are in the news for all the wrong reasons this week with the EU having implemented a ban* on the much-prized Alphonso mangoes, frequently referred to as the ‘king of fruit’.
Amontillado sherry has richer, nuttier flavours than a classic fino or manzanilla sherry and calls for different food matches. Think more in terms of cured meat, game and cheese than seafood and richer, meatier tapas.
Vermentino is incredibly versatile - a brilliant wine pairing for anything fishy, herby or citrussy and a great wine for spring and summer drinking.
One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written on this site was one called 20 food and wine pairings to learn by heart - an easy reference guide to commit to memory.
You might think it odd to pick out South African Chenin rather than Chenin Blanc in general but I do think the wines are distinctive, particularly when it comes to the crisper styles which are much zestier than they tend to be in the Loire
No visit to Tuscany is complete without a glass of Vin Santo or ‘holy wine’, a (usually) sweet wine that is served at the end of the meal, almost always with hard little ‘cantucci’ biscuits.
Although there's not quite the feverish frenzy there was about kale a couple of years ago there's still a lot of kale lurve around.
if you're planning to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving here are some great wine and other pairings to serve with it.
You’ll always find people argue about shepherd’s pie but in my view it should be made with lamb rather than beef (that’s cottage pie) and with very little, if any tomato - apart from maybe a dash of ketchup for sweetness.
By paté I’m thinking of what wines to drink with rough country patés and terrines like a paté de campagne rather than fish patés or vegetarian patés which I’ll tackle separately. The sort that you might take on a picnic or eat in a wine bar.
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
Roast beef has the virtue of being one of the easiest dishes to match with wine. You can really drink any medium- to full-bodied red you enjoy. There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, which might affect the style of wine you choose.
Coronation chicken is an obvious choice for any Royal occasion but what wine - or beer - should you pair with it?
Like many popular dishes chilli con carne has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey.
Apple tarts are one of the most flattering desserts to match with sweet wines but what do you drink with other apple-based desserts?
As with most salads Caesar salad is all about the dressing which on the face of it sounds tricky, anchovies being notoriously difficult to match with wine.
One of the best hot weather dishes, this piquant dish of cold poached or roast veal with a tuna, anchovy and caper mayonnaise invariably pops up on menus at this time of year. But what to pair with it?
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.
If you're wondering what wines you should buy for Easter weekend here's quick guide to what I think are the best Easter wine pairings.
Barbera is a versatile red that will happily partner pretty well any meaty dish you throw at it. It is more robust and typically drunk younger than its Piedmontese counterparts Barolo and Barbaresco.
I’ve recently had the chance to taste through a range of wines and beers with Cheshire - Appleby’s Cheshire to be exact - so the hits and misses are fresh in my mind. As you probably know it’s a British territorial cheese with a crumbly texture and mellow flavour but quite a firm bite.
Wheat beers are fabulously flexible when it comes to food matching - the beer world’s equivalent of a crisp white wine.
You might think sushi would be tricky to pair with wine but surprisingly that’s not the case. And there are other drinks that work too . . .
Judging by my Instagram feed practically everyone is eating avocado toast at least once a day but what do you drink with it?
Despite the recent increase in interest in Mexican street food like tacos consumers in the UK still have to take to tequila (maybe because they’re too busy drinking gin) but in fact it’s an attractive and versatile spirit to pair with food
I spent an interesting evening this week at one of London’s leading Indian restaurants Benares. It was organised jointly by a wine events company called The Wine Nose and SOPEXA, the promotional arm of the French food and wine industry.
A lot of people still think that wine isn’t a good match with spicy food but our final session of What Food, What Wine? judging this week suggested that there’s no reason for winelovers to throw in the towel. The success (or otherwise) of the pairings did however depend on the heat of the curries and how ‘wet’ or dry they were.
If you haven’t heard of poke - the Hawaiian dish of cubed raw fish usually with rice and/or vegetables - you soon will. It’s everywhere (and pronounced, by the way, pokay not poke).
Although it seems similar in style to Brie, Camembert is a trickier cheese to pair with a slightly funky edge that can clash with many wines, particularly reds.
Monkfish (or lotte, as the French call it) is a meaty fish that is often roasted so pairs equally well with red wine as with white. In fact a lightly chilled red wine would generally be my preferred match, particularly if it’s wrapped in pancetta or bacon
March 1st is St David’s Day so what better to focus on than Wales’s national symbol, the leek? (Well they have daffodils and dragons too but I’m assuming you don’t want to eat either of those ... )
If you live in the UK and are enjoying pancakes today it’s most likely the classic kind, simply topped with lemon juice and a sprinkling of crunchy sugar. But what to drink with them?
Having spent a few days in the Auvergne recently and eaten more than my fair share of Saint Nectaire cheese with a variety of wines, mostly natural, here’s what I think works best.
Even those who normally drink beer feel the need to put a bottle of red wine on the table at Christmas* but beer is actually just as good, if not a better accompaniment for turkey.
Beef Wellington is real treat and deserves an equally indulgent wine to set it off. It is however less robustly flavoured than a steak or rib roast of beef with other key ingredients such as mushrooms and pastry which offset the flavour of the meat. For me that tends to indicate pinot rather than cabernet but take your pick
It sometimes seems like there’s a Groundhog Day element to beer and food matching. Everyone gets excited about it then we all go back to square one and rediscover it again.
For many people coffee is a regular companion to food whether it’s breakfast or that great German institution of kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) - only the amount of caffeine they might consume holding them back.
Even if you're not currently on the slopes you might want to take your chance to make one of the great ski-food classics, fondue, raclette or tartiflette.
German wheat beers are sufficiently different from Belgian wheat beers to merit a separate post - so what are the best food matches for hefeweizen with their striking banana and clove flavours?
Beer blogger Steve Lamond has been matching beer and cheese for the past seven years and has compiled an invaluable guide on his blog Beers I’ve Known. Hare are his 5 all-time favourites which include some cracking combinations.
A new series for the Wine Pros section on what’s been happening in the world of food and drink pairing over the past few weeks:
I’ve been a bit of a sceptic in the past about pairing food with whisky. Not that there aren’t some great combinations but I find it hard to sustain for more than one dish.
Do herbs ever have a strong enough influence on a dish to determine your wine pairing? Relatively rarely in my view. Only very herby sauces like pesto or salsa verde dominate a dish to such an extent that you need to choose a wine to accommodate them.
Scallops are some of the most delicious seafood around and some of the most flattering to a serious white wine. There’s one grape variety that will almost always see you right but also some other options
Vodka may be primarily thought of as a base for cocktails but in vodka-loving countries like Russia and Poland it’s always accompanied by food. Basically anything smoked, pickled or cured works well. Here are some ideas:
Given the immense popularity of gin the chances of you sitting in a bar downing a gin-based cocktail are pretty high. But at some point you're going to need something to eat so what kind of food can you pair with it?
Having written a book on beer and food matching and cooking with beer last year (An Appetite for Ale) it’s been heartening to see the growing interest in the subject, especially in the states.
When I was in Dublin a few weeks ago I ate at a pub called L Mulligan Grocer which had been recommended on Twitter by a number of locals. I expected it to be a great hangout - most Dublin pubs are - but not that it would have a strikingly original approach to food and drink pairing
There was once no point in thinking about wine in the context of cauliflower. It was a vegetable. It was bland - except arguably in cauliflower cheese - but now it’s roasted, fried, spiced and partnered by other exotic and flavourful ingredients.
The good news if you’re planning an Easter feast around lamb is that practically any medium to full-bodied red wine you enjoy will be delicious with it. But there are a few variables to take into account that might enhance the pairing
The idea of partnering asparagus with wine is contentious enough but red wine? Surely that won’t work?
Most of the time, as you’ll have noticed, I feature the more offbeat wine pairings I’ve come across in my match of the week slot. This week I’ve been reminded of the virtue of some that seldom go wrong.
One of the main events at the Dartmouth Food Festival this weekend was a dinner at Mitch Tonks Seahorse restaurant cooked by London chef Mark Hix. The unusual factor though was that every dish was matched with a cocktail.
Cider seems to be on the verge of going through the same quality revolution as beer did a few years ago. In the last 12 months I’ve tasted more interesting ciders than I have in the last 12 years.
If you’re wondering which wine to pair with roast pork the good news is it’s a flexible meat that can take a white or a red - or even - given the crackling, a sparkling wine.
Mexican restaurants have been on a roll lately so tacos are much more widely available than they used to be in the UK.
Donald Edwards finds a clue in the traditional Georgian food that was served at a dinner at the Notting Hill restaurant Colchis recently.
Beetroot is one of the few vegetables that pairs better with red wine than with white - not only for the colour though that tends to put the brain on auto-suggest - but its rich, earthy sometimes sweet flavour.
So what stood out in the way of food and wine matches - and pairings with other drinks - in 2013?
I was recently asked the question: "What am i looking for when matching beer and food? Do I want a beer with a similar taste or should I be looking for a contrast?"
There was a fascinating report in The Drinks Business this week of a speech by Dr Peter Klosse of the Academy of Gastronomy at the Fine & Rare Specialist Course in Vienna in which he argued that white wine is easier to match with food than red.
Ever tried chocolate with smoked salmon? Or with butternut squash soup for that matter? Unlikely matches, I'll grant you, but 'chocolate' - in its confectionery guise - is actually a misnomer. It's most likely cacao you'll be cooking with in future, if the founders of the fashionable chocolate brand 'Venezuelan Black' have their way.
You’ve probably got your Thanksgiving wine sorted but what about a beer? If you don’t drink it yourself it may not be something you've given much thought to but in fact beer makes just as good a partner for the myriad different flavours of the typical Thanksgiving feast as wine.
In my annual round-up of the best matches of the year I usually end up listing around a third of my matches of the week so I thought this year I’d set myself the the challenge of picking one from each calendar month.
It struck me as slightly ironic that the best example of a food offering I’ve seen at a consumer tasting recently was the Food Pairing Room at this weekend’s Whisky Show - whisky being the last drink that many people would think of pairing with food.
Wine and cheese are well known bedfellows but if you’re a beginner it might seem daunting to decide exactly which wine to choose for which cheese. This guide will quickly help you to get started pairing wine and cheese like a pro.
I was reminded the other night of how the average wine newbie must feel confronted with a wine list in French. The names of the wines and the grape varieties mean nothing. You have no idea what they taste like and what to order. Panic sets in.
A new regular feature on the site to give you a chance to play sommelier and practise your matchmaking skills. Here’s how it works:
Having moaned for years how unhelpful it was for retailers and wine producers to put an incredibly vague ‘good with pasta’ or ‘good with chicken’ on their back labels I’m not sure the pendulum hasn’t swung too far in the other direction.
Those of you who visit the site regularly will be aware I post a regular match of the week - the most interesting wine - or other drink - pairing I’ve come across in the past 7 days.
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.
We Brits have always had a reputation for liking our wines old and our game high but times have changed. Today the key factor in matching game tends to be not how ‘gamey’ it is but how it’s cooked and what is served with it.
A recent email from a reader asked me to suggest a wine to go with “a triple coconut cake with a tangy pineapple icing served with fresh fruit salsa that has kiwi, strawberry, madarine oranges, blueberries and fresh pineapple in it”. Quite a challenge (I suggested demi-sec Champagne or a peach-flavoured liqueur topped up with fizz) but it got me thinking that there are many possible matches for cake beyond a cup of tea or coffee, particularly if you're serving it as a dessert.
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.
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.
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.
We rarely think of tawny port as a flexible pairing for food. We serve it with stilton, obviously and with hard cheeses like cheddar, with nuts and dried fruits and over Christmas with fruit cake and mince pies but that’s usually as far as it goes.
Should it be wine or beer - or even a cocktail? Last year I asked the Twitter community what their favourite barbecue bevvy was and this is what they came up with . . .
You may well know what you’re going to drink with the turkey by now but here are some ideas for what to match with your Christmas starters, paired with recipes from some of Britain’s favourite chefs and cookery writers.
Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year so if you’re vegetarian yourself or cooking for one here are some perfect pairings for some delicious festive recipes from the web.
The other evening I had an interesting session with a few food bloggers matching Davidstow cheddar for which I’d been asked to come up with some drink pairings*. My task was to talk about the wine. The company’s Head Grader Mark Pitts-Tucker brought along a couple of Cornish ales - Sharp’s Doombar and St Austell Tribute.
We all know a beer goes down well with a ploughmans and that it’s a great drink to wash down a barbecue but here are 10 more unusual pairings which should liven up your summer drinking.
The Chinese New Year, which starts tomorrow, is one of those annual events that really captures the imagination. It is celebrated in such a colourful and joyous way and Chinese food is so delicious, quick and simple to make that I hope you won't be able to resist having a go at it.
How many of you will be putting beer on the table at Christmas? Not that many, I suspect, but if you can bring yourself to break with tradition you could be in for a treat. Most supermarkets now carry a sufficiently wide range for you to be able to serve a different beer with each course, should you be so minded. And here’s how to do it:
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.
If you haven’t already made your plans for New Year’s Eve why not invite over a few friends and treat them to a beer dinner instead of one based on wine? It’s a great way to open their eyes to the great range of artisanal beers that are now available.
Did I want to go on a truffle trip to Spain at the end of January? Balmy Barbados seemed like a better option but since that wasn’t on the cards and the enquiry came from an old friend I said yes. The 2 day visit - the annual Viñas del Vero ‘Days of Wine and Truffles’ in Somontano would include an outdoor picnic in the foothills of the Pyrenees (eek), a truffle hunt and - the clincher - a multi-course truffle menu by one of the region’s most talented chefs followed by a gastronomic brunch. “Bring the Gaviscon”. my friend sagely advised.
Mark Hix, a great forager himself, concentrates on recipes you can make from the hedgerow this week in The Independent (now is a good time to go to his new restaurant, I suggest . . . ) so I’m thinking a little outside the box as to what to pair with them. Country wines, made with hedgerow fruits, seem the perfect answer. I don’t know why we don’t see more of them.
Our final port of call on our recent French trip was a modest family run restaurant at Bourneville called Risle-Seine, a few minutes off the autoroute between Le Havre and Rouen (and therefore ideally placed for a last minute lunch before catching the ferry). It has no great pretensions but does what it does really well: simple classic country food served with decent, well-priced wines - and cider, we discovered this time.
You may find family and friends resistant to the idea of putting beer on the Easter table (though some will be secretly pleased) but stick to your guns.
If you’re on the wagon this month, mealtimes can suddenly seem a bit drab and colourless. But if you’re missing the taste of your favourite wine try substituting a fruit juice that has similar flavours.
About the most daunting audience that anyone could face is a group of wine writers, especially if a number of those happen to specialise in food and wine matching so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to lead a tasting on wine and charcuterie in London on Monday night on the eve of the London International Wine Fair.
Few people now throw up their hands in horror at the idea of matching red wine with fish. But how many realise just how often you can pair the two?
After the tradition-bound cooking of the Christmas period (from which the family will never let you deviate . . .) it’s good to branch out a bit with your New Year’s Eve meal and also pick some dishes that will allow you to drink some serious wines. Note you need to start the beef two days in advance.
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
As many will be celebrating both Bonfire Night and British Sausage Week this weekend there’s a fair chance that you’ll be eating bangers of some kind, so what’s the best pairing?
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall proclaims firmly in The Guardian today that he won’t be serving turkey for lunch on Christmas Day so if he’s going to break with tradition why shouldn’t you? Bring on the beer!
I was reminded about my trip to Priorat almost exactly two years ago by my recent visit to the Roussillon which has a similar terroir. And I think the wines would go with similar kinds of food. These were my suggested pairings at the time . . .
Like salt, pepper has a pronounced effect on wine, often making reds taste softer and lusher than they otherwise would. Unlike salt though, you also find peppery flavours in wines such as Northern Rhône Syrah and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
Before we finally plunge into winter here's a late autumn supper menu from my book Food, Wine and Friends that combines the best of autumn’s produce with a couple of convenience products.
If culture and ‘terroir’ are a basis for deciding which drinks bestmatch a particular cuisine then beer must have a strong claim to bepaired with Scandinavian food.
Hard sheep’s cheeses are the winelover’s friend.
After a recent visit to the Jura I've rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
If you were going to introduce someone to beer the last course you’d probably think of would be a dessert but as I discovered at a beer and pudding matching session at Brown’s Hotel in London this week it can be a surprisingly successful combination.
A fair bit gets written - including by yours truly - about pairing wine with turkey but what type of drinks go best with the Christmas ham?
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.
I’m constantly amazed at the stream of good value reds that is coming out of Spain these days. Here’s another - La Copa Tempranillo 2005 from the up and coming Campo de Borja wine region which is situated in Aragon to the north west of Zaragoza. It appears to be made by a co-operative, the Cooperative de Santo Cristo de Magallon but is none the worse for that.
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
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.
For the last couple of weeks The Telegraph has been running recipes from two of my favourite chefs, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro, the iconic Moorish recipe in Exmouth Market in London that I discover, to my amazement, is now 11 years old. Sam (the husband) is very into his wines, particularly sherry, so I'm suggesting Spanish wines for the pairings.
When I read Mark Hix recipes in The Independent today they were so challenging that I nearly gave up but as everyone else seems to be writing about asparagus today and I’ve done a lot on asparagus recently there was no other option . . .
Last night I had dinner at the Dorchester Grill Room, one of London’s grander hotel restaurants which has been given an absurdly baroque makeover reminiscent of what Balmoral must have looked like in Victorian times. The team in the restaurant though are bang up to date with one of the smartest sommeliers in town, Jason McAuliffe doing an impressive double act with the talented young chef Aiden Byrne.
If you’ve never tasted a fruit beer you might think this pairing sounds bizarre. If you have you can probably imagine just how good it would taste.
The answer to that may well be ‘whatever wine’s left over’ - if there is any, of course - but if you’re looking for a wine that will match specific dishes here are a few ideas:
Salt cod, a popular Good Friday dish in parts of the Mediterranean, is cooked many different ways which suggest different wine pairings.
This week is National Pie Week in the UK - not that we Brits need much encouragement to eat pies. But which is the better match - wine or beer?
Here's a barbecue with a difference from my book Food, Wine and Friends. The centrepiece is a spiced, butterflied leg of lamb served with a delicious Turkish-style bulghur wheat salad called Kisir. Finish with grilled nectarines or, if you prefer to have your dessert prepared ahead, some refreshing wine jellies.
I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):
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 . . .
Sometimes you go to a wine dinner with some trepidation wondering if the wine will stand up to the food but I was pretty optimistic that Domaine Long-Depaquit’s Chablis would survive at Nobu (the original Metropolitan hotel restaurant in London, not LA, sadly!)
No Christmas would be complete without a slice of Stilton or its unpasteurised cousin Stitchelton. But what to drink with it? The usual answer is port - and that of course is classic - but here are some other drinks that make great pairings
The first thing to bear in mind about Thanksgiving - and for that matter Christmas - is that it’s as much about mood as food. Who you’re inviting, what age they are and how big your party is are factors every bit as important as what you’re eating.
Although chocolate mousse is usually made from dark chocolate it's quite a light dessert as chocolate puddings go because of its airy texture - lighter than petits pots au chocolat, for example.
Blogger Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth braces herself for a lunch featuring classic French dishes and Australian wine. Was she convinced? Read on . . .
The perfect match for lamb is red wine, right? Well, mostly but not always as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in the Guardian this weekend and my own recent experience have demonstrated
The idea of doing a post on wine matches with brussels sprouts might strike you as a tad over the top - after all who eats sprouts on their own? (Answer: me. Whenever I get the chance.)
I’ve thought for a while that Scandinavian food is on the way up so am not surprised to find another new cookbook on the subject from Trina Hahnemann who Telegraph cookery writer Xanthe Clay dubs ‘Denmark’s answer to Nigella’ in the paper today.
Every so often you come across a great little recipe than does wonders for almost any wine you pair with it. And so it is with mushroom ‘caviar’, a regular offering from the takeaway section of my favourite local restaurant Culinaria. Basically it’s a mushroom pâté but so reduced and wickedly intense it’s like pure essence of mushroom. Except for the perfect counterpoint - a tiny touch of tarragon.
Earlier this week I was involved in judging a selection of South African rieslings at High Timber in London and afterwards we had a three course lunch that had been designed to match with them. This is what we ate and drank.
There’s one wine that’s invariably recommended as a pairing for duck and that is Pinot Noir but of course duck, like any other meat, can be cooked in different ways. How does that affect the match?
I still remember my visit to the great Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s biggest beer festival. Mysteriously it’s not held in October at all - or rather it doesn’t start in October but in September - kicking off next weekend.
Although it's still a bit nippy at night, the blossom is out, it feels like spring and the clocks are going forward in the UK this weekend. So here's a light lunch to enjoy with a couple of friends that has a touch of spring about it but still includes a warming stew.
As I mentioned in my last post our last lunch of the Oregon trip was at Cristom where sales director (no less!) John D'Anna cooked us a great meal. Here's how he did it and - where I have a link to them - the recipes he used. Try it!
With this unseasonably hot weather why not look to Greece for inspiration when you're entertaining. Here's a simple meal for 4 that was inspired by a trip to Greece a few years ago.
Turkish food is not traditionally accompanied by wine. And although the Turks do have a wine industry not much of it makes its way over here. But here are some thoughts on possible pairings for Mark Hix's Turkish inspired recipes in the Independent this weekend"
Inspired by the recent British Kebab awards Zeren Wilson wonders what the perfect wine pairing is for a kebab and comes up with some surprising conclusions.
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that my recommendations have changed since I posted this article earlier today. I've revised my opinion since retasting Cornish Blue which I found in my local deli - Arch House Deli.
Mince pies are not that different to Christmas pudding and Christmas cake so you could drink much the same sort of wine with them. But tradition obviously plays a part in terms of what most people expect and they do pair particularly well with fortified wines like port, sherry and madeira
The Bordeaux wine region produces a multitude of top class red wines that these days tend to be blends of four main grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
I’ve been having some fresh thoughts about food and wine matching since I was asked to participate in the Wine & Culinary International Forum in Barcelona this past weekend and come up with pairings for the bottles submitted by the Primum Familiae Vini, 11 of the world's most famous family-owned wineries
For most people the New Zealand winery Cloudy Bay is synonymous with sauvignon blanc but their range now extends to sparkling, sweet and red wines, a message underlined by a dinner at Hix Mayfair (in Brown’s Hotel) the other day.
If you're having a late summer barbecue this weekend here is one of the most delicious - and surprising recipes - from my book An Appetite for Ale. I love serving them because no-one has the faintest idea they have beer in them.
I have to admit I accepted Leonid Shutov’s invitation to taste vodka with some trepidation having heard tales of the hangovers that some of my colleagues had suffered as a result of their visits to his Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard.
Beaujolais - by which I mean red Beaujolais - is the most French of wines, the perfect wine pairing for a picnic or bistro meal.
You might be surprised that a nut roast isn’t that different from a conventional roast when it comes to finding a wine pairing. The savoury flavours are designed to act as a satisfying substitute for meat and so work best with similarly full-bodied red wines.
Yesterday we had the family round for lunch and served a 2002 Douro red from Portugal with the main course of spice-crusted roast lamb with garlic and rosemary, roast potatoes (my youngest son managed to put away 15 but remains, annoyingly, as skinny as a rake) and in-season purple sprouting broccoli.
It was hard to pick just one pairing from the stellar meal I had at Marcus Wareing in London last week but this combination of robustly cooked John Dory and 2005 Nuits-St-Georges from Domaine Daniel Rion was the most interesting, underlining that red wine can be just as good a partner for white fish as for meatier fish like tuna.
What happened to days 2 and 3 you may be asking and indeed that’s what I’m asking myself. We swept through Eastern Washington as fast as a tornado, barely pausing to sleep, never mind write.
We Brits don’t have a long tradition of washed-rind cheeses but we have a true champion in the aptly named Stinking Bishop, which shot to worldwide fame when it was featured in the Wallace & Gromit film. But can any wine (or other drink) stand up to it?
Of course it depends what type of IPA you're talking about. A relatively light style will lead you in a different direction from a huge, hoppy double IPA, but these I think would be my top five . . .
Mark Hix may have been knocking back the tequila on his recent trip to Mexico but if you’re not made of such stern stuff try my alternative suggestions for his Mexican-inspired recipes in the Independent today.
Most of the time we’re pairing wine and food it’s the food that comes first but for people in the trade it’s more often about what food will flatter the wine. But how do you ensure a successful match?
If you’re looking for something a little different to serve for dessert on Saturday (which in case you’ve forgotten, guys, is Valentine’s Day) how about a dessert martini?
Apologies for returning once again to the subject of crab but it is one of my favourite summer foods and this was the outstanding match of last week.
The most interesting meal I had last week was undoubtedly at Viajante, an innovative new restaurant in what used to be Bethnal Green town hall. You can see my full review on decanter.com but I just wanted to write a bit more about the pairings.
I suppose I shouldn’t say this coming from the West Country but I often forget about cider when I’m thinking about cheese pairings. Not that I don’t enjoy it but there always seem more complex drinks with a wider range of flavours to experiment with.
If you’re organising a Red Nose Day tasting tonight here’s a zany idea for a pudding that I devised for a Sainsbury’s magazine feature a couple of years ago when I interviewed TV presenter Phillip Schofield for Comic Relief.
There is an argument that you don't need anything to drink with the classic Christmas pudding*, especially if you've sloshed brandy all over it but if you're pairing other courses of the Christmas meal you might fancy a small glass of something sweet.
Or 'what wine should I drink with hachis parmentier?' - the French answer to shepherd's and cottage pie.
I’m really spoilt for choice for my match of the week - there were so many good ones last week. As you may have picked up if you follow me on Twitter (where I tweet as winematcher and food_writer) I was in Copenhagen eating at the world’s best restaurant, Noma (according to the 800 food writers, chefs and critics that judge the ‘World's 50 Best Awards) and also at Herman whose sommelier Jacob Kocemba came up with some excellent pairings.
I think I’ve found the perfect match for Sancerre - and the perfect Sancerre to drink with them!
Just as last week’s match of the week was a classic - so is this week’s: the main course we had at Oliver Peyton’s National Gallery Café at a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Circle of Wine Writers.
People in the wine trade often talk about ‘food friendly wines’, a term so vague you might wonder what on earth it means. Surely all wines are designed to go with food? Is it supposed to be a criticism or a compliment?
I’ve done a fair few cheese and wine tastings in my time but none quite as challenging as the one I did at the RAW natural wine fair last year matching natural wine with unpasteurised cheese.
Does the temperature at which you serve a dish affect the wine pairing? Matt Walls investigates:
Now that we're a couple of weeks into the season you might be tempted to bag yourself a couple of braces of grouse - it's a great treat for a small dinner party.
An archive post from a fascinating tasting with maître fromager, educator and author Max McCalman, one of the US's foremost cheese experts, back in 2009.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem finding cheese matches for red Bordeaux. Cheddar is often suggested but I find mature versions have too much ‘bite'. Stilton slays it and so do most washed rind cheeses, oozy Camemberts and Bries . . .
A recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai opened my eyes anew to the possibilities involved in drinking wine with Chinese food. Many of the conclusions we have painstakingly arrived at in the west turn out to be less obvious when tried out in situ.
One of the welcome reminders of this long hot summer (in the Languedoc at least) is just how well dry wines go with fresh fruit. I’ve been happily drinking whites, ross and even reds with fruit such as peaches, apricots, melons and figs. Sweet wines, of course, go well with all of these but sometimes sweet wines seem too intense, particularly if, like me, you don’t have a very sweet tooth.
The peaches are so fabulous here in Arles, so gorged with sweet, ripe juice that we’re eating them almost daily. One great way to serve them which I was reminded about the other night when we dined at a local restaurant, Le Corazon is with red wine - just as good as the better-known pears in red wine.
I went to a great little bistro the other day in St-Rémy-de-Provence called - appropriately enough - Bistro Découverte. It’s run by a very talented young sommelier I used to know in London called Claude Douard who worked for Marco Pierre White and Joel Rebuchon.
I’ve already written about how well game terrine pairs with oloroso sherry. Now I’ve discovered an equally good, if not better pairing: London Dry Gin.
Whatever you get up to on Valentine’s night (and truly, I’d rather not know) my guess is you’ve got better things to do than spend it slaving over a hot stove. So this is an unashamed cheat’s menu for you to romance your loved one with the absolute minimum of effort. Needless to say, buy only the very best ingredients.
For those of you who are lucky enough to be serving caviar this New Year's Eve I just dug this post I wrote back in 2009 out of the archives. Is champagne or vodka the better pairing? (I must confess the *research* was fun ...)
Although I regularly recommend wines to pair with barbecue - most recently in my Guardian column - I’m actually an equal fan of beer. In fact I think many types of barbecue work better with it.
As with most cheeses the ideal pairing for cheddar depends how mature it is. A mild to medium block cheddar is going to be a lot easier to match (and in most cheeselovers’ eyes a lot less interesting) than a tangy cloth-bound cheddar of 18 months or more.
If you’re looking for something really original to impress your Valentine next weekend try this fabulous pairing.
Celebrations come thick and fast at this time of the year - first Burns' Night, and now Chinese New Year and Australia Day. Since both fall on the same day this year I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone (terrible expression but you know what I mean) and mark the Year of the Ox with a beef recipe matched with an Australian wine.
Epoisses has to be one of the most difficult cheeses to match, not least when it gets to the almost liquid stage shown in this photo (a stage too far IMHO)
Pancakes and beer might not sound like the most obvious of combinations but as with other flour-based foods such as sandwiches or pies they work together remarkably well. Especially, as I discovered when I was writing my food and beer book An Appetite for Ale last year, fruit-filled pancakes and fruit beers.
Apple tart is a pretty forgiving kind of dessert but here's a brilliant new pairing I found at Casanis restaurant in Bath last week.
It’s less common to come across Indian-spiced seafood dishes than it is fish and vegetable-based ones so what sort of wine works? Yesterday I had a chance to find out
Last night I went back to The Greenhouse for the first time since its revamp, for dinner with its owner Marlon Abela and his head wine buyer Jean-Marc Heurlière.
Those of us who have been writing about beer and food for a while have seen many false dawns in the UK - breweries positioning their beers as perfect for different kinds of food, competitions to find the best beer for British staples such as fish and chips, Indian restaurants offering beer pairing menus . . . there was no lack of ingenuity but it didn’t quite take off. But with the number of events and initiatives taking place this summer it really looks as if beer and food pairing has reached a tipping point.
Continuing with our series of South African Braai recipes to celebrate the World Cup, here’s winemaker Paul Cluver’s version of beer-can chicken made with apple juice rather than beer.
I’m always in two minds about whether to write about the beginning of the grouse season. After all only a tiny number of people will be sufficiently interested - or well-heeled - to bag the first birds that arrive on restaurant tables this evening.
If you’re celebrating July 4th this week and haven’t yet made up your mind what to drink here are some last minute suggestions.
This week the UK’s first ever dal festival is taking place in my home town of Bristol and to celebrate I thought I’d explore what drinks pair best with dal.
Caerphilly - or, to be more precise - Gorwydd Caerphilly which is made by my mates Jess and Todd Trethowan of Trethowan's Dairy - is probably the cheese I know best. And there’s one absolutely outstanding match for it . . .
Pork belly has become one of the most popular main courses on restaurant menus so what should you drink with it? It doesn't have to be wine . . .
Today, as you’ll probably not need reminding, is le quatorze juillet which marks the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French revolution. These days the French are more likely to head for the beach than onto the streets as it’s a public holiday and the start of the month long summer vacation for many but it’s celebrated with street parties all over France.
It’s been hard to pick a single pairing from the beer and food matching dinner I attended at the Anchor in Walberswick last week but I reckon it’s got to be the perfect pairing of Bakewell tart and Liefmans Kriek.
This delicious cake, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is based on a recipe from one of Britain's best bakers Dan Lepard. Do use organic dried fruit in it - you’ll get a much better result.
A report on the fascinating food and wine matching workshop that was held at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon last month which showed that you can find a pinot pairing for almost any kind of lamb dish.
It’s rare to go to a wine event and be blown away by the matches at every course but my recent lunch at Murano devised by Angela Hartnett and her sommelier Marc-Andréa Lévy was as close to perfection as it gets.
When I met Christine Manfield a while ago I gave her the impossible task of picking one recipe out of her stunning book Tasting India. This was the one she chose.
Let’s face it a well-honed wine pairing probably isn’t top priority on Superbowl night but there’s no reason why you can’t sip something delicious as you’re nervously nibbling your chicken wings (or your nails).
With Chinese New Year being celebrated this week the shelves are full of stir-fries so what are the best wine pairings?
One of the world’s most underrated grapes yet capable of making some of its most delicious dry whites, Sémillon isn’t on the radar for many. So if you get hold of a bottle what should you pair with it?
If you've been following the new alternative lifestyle programme Château Monty on Channel 4 you’ll know that ‘Monty’ is wine writer Monty Waldin who set out to make his own biodynamic wine in the Roussillon down in the far corner of south-west France
Last night was my first in a two week trip of Australia - an informal dinner with Vasse Felix at a Chinese restaurant in Perth (Grand Palace).
I seem to be spending most of my time dining with bloggers at the moment. On Sunday it was the Blaggers Banquet, next week an Umami night at Ms Marmite Lover’s underground restaurant and last Monday Dine with Dos Hermanos a monthly (or so) feast organised by Simon Majumdar and his brother Robin.
Pigs and Pinot is a well established combination that is the focus of an annual celebration at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg and after reminding myself of the combination last week at Daniel Boulud’s new London outpost Bar Boulud I can see why.
If you're not into herrings this match might not seem desperately appealing but I promise you it’s an outstanding combination. It’s prompted by my recent visit to Copenhagen where the Danes eat herrings on an almost daily basis as part of their smørrebrød (selection of open sandwiches).
I’ve been researching a big feature on perry over the last few days sothat's what this week's pairing had to be. And by that I don’t meanwhat is popularly called pear cider but a cider-like drink that is madewith real perry pears.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week, revisiting some of the winemakers we haven’t seen for a while. They included Domaine de l’Arjolle, one of the first wineries we bought from when we bought a holiday home down here in the early 1990s.
I was hoping for an interesting pairing from the last meal of the year and wasn't disappointed. Like last year we went to a New Year's Eve dinner at Montpelier Basement supper club where we were treated to an amazing 8 course feast which lasted into the early hours of the morning.
To celebrate Chocolate Week here's one of my favourite recipes for a chocolate and cherry roulade which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale. Unusually it contains two different types of beer! You can obviously leave one of them out though a cherry beer is the perfect pairing with it.
Scandinavian food is becoming increasingly popular but what type of wine should you drink with it? Lucy Bridgers reports on how German wine fares.
With temperatures falling well below freezing over the coming week it’s a timely reminder that matching drinks is not just about flavour but temperature and alcohol levels too.
It’s hard to avoid the obvious on St Paddy’s Day. Guinness, Bailey’s and Irish whiskey are the usual suspects but if none of these appeals here are the sort of wines that will work with classic Irish fare.
This actually wasn't the dish with which I drank this brilliant new sparkling wine at Rocksalt in Folkestone last week - I'd unfortunately finished my glass by then - but it would certainly have been a knockout wine pairing.
It’s a bit of a long story. A customer of my friends Stephen and Judy Markwick who own the Bristol restaurant Culinaria wanted to track down some Louis Roederer Rich and I helped him find it. He wanted me to share a bottle with him as a reward which was totally unnecessary but a gesture it seemed churlish to refuse. (Or that's my excuse anyway!)
I’ve always thought of an elderflower spritzer as the perfect drink to pair with elderflower fritters - until this weekend when I tried them with Moscato d’Asti at the local underground supper club Montpelier Basement.
I have to admit there's an element of nepotism about this pairing which I enjoyed the other day at my son’s award-winning steakhouse Hawksmoor where we were shooting new photography for the site (an exciting development about which more news shortly!)
If you're planning ahead for Easter weekend and don't fancy doing the traditional big Easter Day lunch how about a brunch instead? Here's my menu for this time of year ...
A muggy evening in mid-July might seem an odd occasion to focus on wine and game matching but there were two reasons for last night’s Louis Jadot game dinner and the Westminster Kingsway catering college. One is that they hoped to engage the attention of consumer magazines who work 4-6 months ahead in terms of feature planning and the second is that the Game-to-Eat campaign is trying to encourage us all to think of eating game year round.
In the run-up Christmas there’s not much time for time-consuming dinner parties so this tasting and light supper is a fun and indulgent way to entertain good friends. Ask each of them to bring a chilled* bottle of bubbly - Champagne or otherwise - provide a couple of your own, cover up the bottles and taste them ‘blind’. Great fun for a start to see who can spot the ‘real’ Champagne (don’t worry if you can’t - many professionals are fooled by these kind of exercises) and a delicious way to get into festive mood.
This report on a steak and wine tasting I did at Hawksmoor Spitalfields back in 2007 is now over 10 years old but the advice still holds good. It's quite a long read though so for more concise steak and wine matching advice head to The Best Wine Pairings for Steak.
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.
My problem this week is that I have a terrific wine pairing but I can't tell you about it because it's the result of a tasting I was running for Decanter magazine. So you'll have to hang on till December for that. Sorry.
A bit of a departure with the turkey this Christmas - a magnum of Chivite Coleccion 125 from Navarra we unearthed in a cellar sort-out the other day. It's based on Tempranillo with a proportion of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon - I'm not sure what the percentages were that year - but was probably at the optimum moment for drinking - the fruit still bright but super-smooth and beautifully in balance.
We decided some time ago we were going to drink Beaujolais with our turkey in memory of the late Marcel Lapierre who very sadly died back in September. I thought his vibrant fruity 2009 Morgon would be ideal with the classic Christmas feast and so it proved to be, mirroring the tartness and fruitiness of the cranberry sauce.
As it turned out the star pairing of my bizarre Brewdog Burns night was not the haggis spring rolls and Punk IPA but an equally off the wall pairing of raspberry cranachan and Black Tokyo Horizon, a 15% Imperial stout.
This may be a mystifying pairing to those of you who don't live in the UK but bear with me ....
Last Friday night Helen, our designer, and I had a bit of a works outing to our colleague Monica Shaw's who works on the nuts and bolts of the website. She cooked up an amazing Mexican feast of which this was just one element but it was striking how much better the whole meal went with beer than with wine.
I could have made almost any of the pairings in the Restaurants in Residence pop-up supper in Docklands last Tuesday my match of the week but I think this one just inches it, mainly because I absolutely loved the wine, Corail Rosé.
Haggis may be traditional fare for Burns' Night but let's face it, it's not everyone's cup of tea. So here's a Scottish inspired menu that I suspect you'll probably enjoy rather more (unless you're born and bred Scots, of course...)
With Hallowe'en just a few days away here's a sophisticated supper for those of you who don't have to go out trick or treating . . .
This recipe which I edited slightly from the version in the Oktoberfest Insider Guide by Sabine Kafer, comes from my beer and food book An Appetite for Ale. The secret is the lavish last minute slathering with butter.
This impressive Moroccan-style pie from Josceline Dimbleby's food memoir Orchards in the Oasis would make a great centrepiece for a dinner party or more casual supper with friends.
If you want to make just one dish to celebrate the Thai new year try Gizzi Erskine's fabulous Thai-style duck and watermelon salad from her most recent book Gizzi's Healthy Appetite.
There aren’t many wine pairings that form the subject of a book title but Elizabeth David’s Omelette and a Glass of Wine immortalised the combination.
I’m a huge fan of Nigel Slater’s. I buy the Observer every week just to read his recipes. Yes, I know I could read them online (as you can here) but you don’t get the luscious Jonathan Lovekin photographs. Not that you need them. Slater’s prose is so evocative you can taste the recipe as you read.
There’s still a bit of resistance to drinking red wine with fish, let alone with a white fish like cod but last week I had the perfect dish to combine with a good red burgundy.
The English - and very delicious - way with pancakes is to serve them with granulated sugar and lemon (a dessert that pairs well with gently sparkling, sweet Asti or Moscato d’Asti). But an even better match is the French - or more specifically Breton - tradition of serving savoury pancakes with sparkling cider, a vastly underrated drink.
I realise this is not the first time I’ve written about the virtues of roast pork and beer but it’s such a great match (and such an underrated one) that I keep on coming back to it. This time I came across it in a splendid northern French tavern called Le Bruegel in Bergues, the highlight of what was otherwise a rather cold, miserable journey on our way back to England last week.
On Saturday I was in London’s Borough Market which was full of the most wonderful spring vegetables - artichokes, broad beans, peas and asparagus. It reminded me of a dish I normally make this time of year when we’re at our house in the Languedoc in southern France which is rabbit braised with spring vegetables and Viognier.
The other night I went back to one of my favourite restaurants Ransome’s Dock, a friendly neighbourhood restaurant in Battersea that has great food and an even more stellar wine list, put together with detailed and well-written tasting notes by chef/proprietor Martin Lam. (You can download it from the site)
I know I said I was going to make a Riesling my match of the week but given that I've already written about it and that it's the Great British Beer Festival this week I'm going for this great combo at my son's restaurant, Hawksmoor. (Blatantly nepotistic, I know. Apologies)
I’ve been so busy catching up after my Alsace trip that I haven’t had much time for new food and wine discoveries but here’s one we had at Les Temps Changent in Chalons-en-Champagne, a hotel we frequently stop at to break the journey through France.
In the wake of the great cider boom that has gripped the UK over the past year or so perry - which is cider made from pears - is also undergoing a renaissance. Typically drier than cider it goes well with the sort of dishes with which you’d drink a light dry white wine like a Chenin Blanc or a Chardonnay.
One of the pleasures of the huge clearing and putting away operation at our new French home is the discovery of forgotten bottles. The other day it was a Marcillac from Domaine Laurens which went incredibly well with that night’s supper of seared calves’ liver.
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.
You might think the idea of eating bacon and egg with good claret is sacrilege but bear with me.
For this month’s comp we’ve teamed up with our good friends Islington-based butchers Turner & George* again to offer you a type of beef that’s become a real hit on the London restaurant scene. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
The dilemma for us wine writers is when to recommend a wine we're really excited about. Do we save it up for a round-up of the best wines we’ve tasted in that category or tell you about it straight away on the basis that every other journo will be pushing it too?
This typically Burgundian dish of pork with a wine, cream and mustard-based sauce is quick, easy and versatile. You could equally well use it for chicken.
If I told you we’d kicked off a tasting menu with a dish of barely seared, pepper-crusted tuna, with a punchy sesame and ginger dressing paired with a chilled cherry beer you’d probably think we’d dined at one of London’s cutting edge Asian restaurants rather than one of its most venerable institutions, the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. But its chef-patron Michel Roux Jr is quite prepared to challenge his well-heeled Mayfair clientele. In fact I suspect that if he felt he could get away with it his whole menu would be packed with similarly bold combinations.
Cognac pairs with chocolate, we all know but what about cheese? Surprisingly there are some standout matches as I discovered when I chaired the cheese workshop at the 2014 International Cognac Summit in France a couple of years ago.
The Hole in the Wall at Little Wilbraham near Cambridge sounded like the sort of twee country pub that I hate. Discovering it had a celebrity chef and a tasting menu made it appeal even less but on my visit last week I was bowled over
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook - perfect for this time of year.
A classic starter from the ‘70’s but one that our customers seem to enjoy every bit as much today. This version originally came from a book called Take Twelve Cooks and was one of Pru Leith’s recipes. However Stephen Bull attributes it to Peter Kromberg of Le Soufflé at the Intercontinental who was also featured in the book . . .
I've always been intrigued by Oysters Rockefeller, described by the great Simon Hopkinson as "the best hot oyster dish I know". Here's his recipe.
Another run-out for Mark Hix's wonderfully decadent recipe for a lobster-stuffed baked potato from his book Hix on Baking. Such a great idea . . .
It was surreal. The small room was filled with around thirty people – some with their faces painted white – walking around in disposable white boiler suits. We looked like workmen from outer space. Moreover, we’d been given miniature test-tubes of different flavoured liquids to add to our champagne to make instant, DIY cocktails – which made our glasses sparkle with exotic jewel colours of electric blue, turquoise and fuchsia. Though normally adventurous in matters related to food and drink, I chose to keep my champagne natural. After all, I was going to put my tastebuds through enough for one evening.
The flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - and this is why it is so popular - are powerful and aromatic: citrus, gooseberry and passionfruit in spades. So you if you're looking for a food match need big flavours on your plate to stand up to it.
Today, I’m told (though I’m not sure if this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke) is the culmination of the festival Après l’Hiver, l’Envers in Alsace which roughly translates as ‘after winter, the reverse’. Apparently the people of Alsace are turning their day upside down, starting with hot chocolate or cocoa in the morning, eating dinner backwards and ending the day with breakfast.
I was casting around for a dessert to make for friends on Saturday when I remembered this fantastic coffee cake from chef Margot Henderson’s book You’re all Invited. I suppose it’s more of a mid-morning or tea-time treat but I sometimes prefer cake to a full-blown pudding at the end of a rich meal.
Although I’ve tasted some good wines this week it’s beer that has provided the highlights. The Magic Rock Rapture amber ale I drank at The Pint Shop in Cambridge with their awesome beer brined chicken was pretty good but it’s pipped into the ‘drink of the week’ slot by this pairing at The Hole in the Wall in Little Wilbraham
I was overwhelmed with good wine pairings last week but given that quite a few were similar to ones I’ve written about before I’m making this my star match.
The other day we went to Il Vino d’Enrico Bernardo, an innovative new restaurant in Paris run by the world’s best sommelier in 2004 which has just won a Michelin star. The unusual aspect is that there is a wine rather than a food menu. You choose what you want to drink and they create a dish or a menu around it.
Frankly almost any full-bodied red will work with a roast meat like venison but I’m particularly excited about the new breed of modern Spanish reds that are appearing on the shelves.
We’re down in the Languedoc for a few days and ended up at one of our favourite fish restaurant Le Glacier at Marseillan.
I came across this pairing at Chris and Jeff Galvin’s newly opened Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields in the City where they have a vertical of vintages, some of which are available by the glass. As I observed in my review on decanter.com it’s not a cheap option but if you’ve never tasted an old vintage of Hermitage la Chapelle here’s a chance to do so.
If you want to show off a fine dessert wine the ideal match is a simple French apple or pear tart, so there should be no surprise then at this pairing of a pear frangipane tart (pears with a spongey almond base) and a Pacherenc de Vic Bilh cuvée 'Octobre'.
This is one of those rare weeks where I’ve come across four brilliant pairings that could have made the ‘match of the week’ slot but as it’s St Patrick’s Day tomorrow and I haven’t done a beer for a while I’ll go for the topical one.
I know I’ve already raved about this stunning combination at Heston’s new restaurant Dinner but it's already a candidate for one of my top 10 pairings of 2011, never mind my match of the week.
I came across this unlikely combination while I was flying back from Argentina with the Brazilian airline TAM* who have this year decided to inaugurate a Brazilian menu in business class devised by a woman chef called Ana Luisa Trajano. And quite right too.
My match of the week has to include Gladstone Pinot Noir from Wairarapa in New Zealand which featured in two unexpectedly good pairings at two different restaurants.
A week without wine might sound like hell for wine lovers but to be honest in Barbados why would you drink anything else? Wine is expensive and there’s not much choice whereas beer is cheap and ubiquitous.
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.
If anyone can make Aperol - the Venetian Campari drinkalike - fashionable it's Russell Norman of Polpo, Polpetto, Spuntino and now Da Polpo - four of the coolest (and smallest) restaurants in London. Admittedly bitters are not to everyone's taste - they are...well...bitter but I find Aperol fruitier and easier to drink than Campari. The traditional way to serve it as as an Aperol spritz topped up with Prosecco and a whoosh of soda water - the perfect way to recover when the Tube is at its hellish steamy worst.
Last week’s highlight was a trip to the newly opened downstairs restaurant at Terroirs, a restaurant of which regular readers will know I’m a huge fan (along with the rest of the UK’s wine-writing fraternity).
I was beginning to think we’d managed to skip winter this year before last week’s icy blasts and snow came as a timely reminder we’ve got a good few weeks to go yet. So there’s still time to enjoy one of winter’s great favourites - a Swiss cheese fondue.
Another good bottle for Valentine’s Day this week - this time an wild strawberry flavoured liqueur in an extraordinarily blingy bottle with wild strawberries floating on top. It’s part of Marks & Spencer’s new international spirits range which now runs to over 70 different spirits and liqueurs.
When you have a fish as fine as Dover sole you don’t want to mask its delicate sweet flavour in any way. Here are my suggestions for Gordon Ramsay’s recipes in the Times today.
People occasionally ask me what characterises British food. Unlike French or Italian food it can be hard to pin down, there are so many different ethnic influences but last night I had a meal that was quintessentially English summer food.
A lovely seasonal dessert from Sybil Kapoor's National Trust - Simply Baking. "Soft-baked meringues make a gorgeous pudding in the early autumn, especially when topped with cider-poached fruit and apple brandy cream."
With the country blanketed by snow what else can you think of but soup? A favourite recipe from my book An Appetite for Ale that makes a great pairing with a dark, Trappist beer. You can decide how creamy you want it - my preference is to add just a dash to the soup then swirl a little in each bowl to decorate.
As you've probably noticed we're currently in the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight. Encouragingly sales of Fairtrade produce and products were up 12% last year making sales in the UK worth £1.32bn in 2011, compared to £1.17bn in 2010, according to this recent piece in the Guardian.
A simple and impressive recipe to serve for pancake day. Although apricots are obviously at their best in the summer you should be able to find imported ones from countries such as South Africa and Chile.
New world wines are sometimes criticised (usually by the French!) for overwhelming subtle Michelin-starred food but award-winning blogger Jeanne Horak-Druiff of Cooksister found much to admire when she attended an Errazuriz food, wine and photography evening at Pollen Street Social.
Now that fish and chips can found in every posh fish restaurant, wine has become as popular a pairing as a nice cup of builders' tea (good though that is). But which one?
It’s almost impossible to pick out one pairing from last week’s trip to the Lebanon but if I’m forced to it has to be a dish of wild boar with cherry sauce I ate with Habib Karam the owner of Karam winery (and - extraordinarily - the airline pilot who flew us to Beirut)
It's been a while since I've posted about soup - it's notoriously tricky to match with wine - but this weekend I came across a great combination at a new restaurant in Bath, the oddly named Menu Gordon Jones*
Not last week's match, actually but a great one from a couple of weeks' back just before I went to Paris and which got overlooked.
It’s easy to get stuck in the trap of thinking red wine is the only accompaniment for meat, especially red meat but in these days of multi-cultural eating that’s not necessarily true. And a good case in point is a Thai beef salad with its zingy, hot/sour flavours which influence the match much more than the beef does.
Lots of good food and wine combinations this week but I’m picking out the one with the most unusual wine: Barbeito's Rainwater 5 year old reserva medium-dry madeira which I had at Bell’s Diner in Bristol on Friday night
To the incomprehension of my husband who can’t see the point in raw fish, I adore sushi and try to eat it at least once a week - usually with one of my daughters who are both big sushi fans.
Gewürztraminer is a tricky wine to match, one that one usually falls back on recommending with oriental food, so it’s always good to come across something that’s outside the Asian register.
A slightly unseasonal but absolutely delicious wine pairing from Bjorn van der Horst’s much anticipated new restaurant Eastside Inn. The talented Van der Horst used to cook at the Greenhouse and then for Gordon Ramsay at La Noisette and has now branched out on his own. I’ll be posting a full review in the next couple of days but this, for me, was the outstanding match of the meal, selected by sommelier Thierry Sauvanot, also ex-Ramsay.
I only have to look at how many of my matches of the week involve fish to realise that it now appeals to me more than meat. Not that I’m anti-meat by any means it’s just that the sort of wine you pair with it is fairly predictable, well-trodden ground.
I know Thanksgiving has past but I came across such a good pairing for pecan pie at a friend's* house the other day I had to tell you about it. Her pie by the way was quite distinctive with a thin layer of soft caramel in the centre (and, obviously, crisp pecans on the top).
This is possibly the most off-the-wall pairing I encountered on my recent Chilean trip and for that reason the most exciting - both on account of the food and the wine.
Cheese and wine is always a bit of a minefield so it’s good to find a partnership that works really well. This was one of six pairings laid on for the launch of the Bristol Wine and Food Fair which takes place next month (and at which I’m holding a number of Cheese and Wine Masterclasses, so do come along).
Those of you who have been following the reports from my recent gastronomic junket in Chicago shouldn’t run away with the impression I spent all my time drinking Champagne and Château Lafite. One of my best meals was at chef Paul Kahan’s Blackbird where they have a craft beer list that should make most British restaurants hang their head in shame.
If you’re lighting a few fireworks for the kids (or yourselves, of course . . . ) tonight and hanging round in the cold you’ll need some warming food and a good chilli hits the spot perfectly
I’ve just had a sneak preview of a very lush new B & B Langford Fivehead which opens next week (March 1st) in the Somerset Levels just outside Taunton. The building dates back to 1453 and is owned and run by former BBC Good Food editor Orlando Murrin and his partner Peter Steggall
Despite my passion for cheese I’ve long been a believer that you don’t need to lay on a massive cheese board to enjoy it. You can just as easily (and more cheaply) serve a cheese plate.
Just as you think you might have got to grips with matching wine with Chinese food along comes a regional cuisine like Szechuan which is twice as challenging, as I discovered at a wine dinner at Flinty Red in Bristol last night.
Despite many attempts to introduce beer lists in Michelin-starred restaurants, customers still don’t seem to want to drink it on a special occasion. Are they misguided or are restaurateurs wimping out?
When you think how well apples go with cheese it’s amazing that cider isn’t the automatic go-to for a cheese board but as we discovered at Cheese School* earlier this month some work better than others with particular styles of cheese.
Lotte Peplow sees American craft brewers persuade the French that wine is not the only thing to drink with a meal ....
The question I get asked most often as a wine writer is how long you should keep a bottle of wine. It’s one of those ‘How long is a piece of string?’ questions: it depends both on the bottle and the drinker.
If you fancy a proper US-style barbecue this weekend try this brilliantly easy recipe from chef Brad McDonald's book Deep South: New Southern Cooking
The widely held belief that wine doesn’t pair with curry has largely been dispelled with the new and more subtly spiced curries on the market. But what of really hot curries like a Vindaloo?
Although I make my living writing about how food can enhance wine - and vice versa - I would never want to be dogmatic about it and freely admit that there are occasions when it matters less than others.
Two matches for the price of one this week - both killer pairings at our Christmas Cheese School* last week.
You might be surprised to know that red wine isn’t the first pairing I think of with steak tartare, which for those of you who haven’t tried it is chopped raw beef flavoured with punchy seasonings such as capers, parsley and hot pepper sauce. I actually think it pairs really well with sparkling wine, especially Champagne but last week I was down in the Languedoc and that didn’t really seem appropriate.
There’s a distinct nip in the air this week that makes makes me suddenly feel much less like eating summery food. Last night we went round to friends and shared some absolutely awesome steak pies they’d brought back from a butcher called Murray Mitchell in St Andrews in Scotland (they will send them by mail order in the UK apparently if you ring them on 01334 474465).
Pork and apple is, of course, a match made in heaven but the pairing was taken to new heights for me by mixologist Jack Adair Bevan of The Ethicurean who invented an Old Fashioned cocktail with a twist to go with a dish of slow roast pork.
Like most wine-lovers, I suspect, I’ve made a new year’s resolution to drink rather less after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year. I’m not a big fan of sweetened fruit juices so my drink of choice at the moment, with meals and in between, is sparkling mineral water.
My match of the week this week was a toss-up between roast duck and Egri Bikavér (aka Bull's Blood) and Chateau Musar and game pie but I've plumped for the former, which I tasted at Soho's legendary Gay Hussar, as the more unusual pairing.
This great pairing arose as a result of a new interest my husband has in natural wines. Actually no-one has come up with a watertight definition of ‘natural’ but it’s generally agreed that the vines are treated organically and/or biodynamically and the wines made with as little sulphur and chemical additives as possible (in some cases none).
No apologies for returning to one of my favourite drinks, manzanilla sherry, as it’s such a versatile food wine. This time I found a felicitous match with a dish of mackerel en escabeche which was served at one of my regular hangouts in Bristol, Quartier Vert.
I agonised over whether this should be the standout pairing from this marvellous Lebanese meal at Arabica last week but it won by just a whisker.
With the icy weather it’s been a week for staying duvet-wrapped indoors as much as possible so I haven’t encountered my usual range of stimulating food and wine matches but this was a top one, facilitated by my friends Todd and Jess of cheesemongers Trethowan's Dairy.
I spent three days last week travelling through France (about which more over the next few days) so it’s a tough call to decide which food and wine combination came out tops but I think it would have to be the Matthieu Cosse Cahors and the duck ‘parmentier’ I ate at a delightful modern bistro in Cahors called L’O à la Bouche.
I’ve already mentioned this wine pairing as part of my write-up of the Action Against Hunger pop-up with Rick Stein but it was the outstanding match of last week.
One of things I enjoyed most on our recent trip to Ireland* was the seafood. The fish shop in Midleton, Co. Cork had a fantastic array of locally caught lobster, crab and prawns at very reasonable prices. They tasted great too - really fresh and sweet.
So maybe Austria’s signature grape grüner veltliner is the perfect pairing for tricky-to-match artichokes?
Making a cocktail doesn’t have to involve the skills of a bartender, a battery of equipment and a shelf full of obscure bottles. You can make a simple cocktail for your beloved with as little as two ingredients - so long as they’re red or pink . . .
Q I am going to a dinner where we take our own wine. The starter is slices of smoked pheasant with partridge pate, followed by fillet of venison then a dessert of profiteroles with lemon cream + chocolate sauce. then a savoury of rabbit and tarragon terrine. You may now realise my problem! Any suggestions?
Q I am the best man at a wedding and agreed to provide the wine for the head table. The couple is serving a soy, ginger salmon and chicken dish (i assume you get a choice). Any thoughts?
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.
To round off National Vegetarian Week here's a recipe from one of the most inspiring vegetarian cookery books I've come across: Sally Butcher's charming, idiosyncratic Veggiestan.. Sally runs an Iranian food store called Persepolis in south-east London so the recipes - which are terrific - all have an middle-eastern slant. It's also a cracking read!
The key element to this typically Bavarian recipe, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is the addition of hot stock which gives it a consistency half way between a conventional potato salad and mashed potato. It also has the most delicious sweet-sour flavour.
Twelve months is a long time in a recession. This time last year we were all writing about 30 bottle water lists and 50 bottles of water. In 2009 all the talk is about tap. The unease we may have felt at flying bottles half way round the globe and lack of political correctness in drinking designer water while many have none has been superceded by the the more prosaic necessity to cut down our personal spending.
I’ve never totally bought into the idea but a recent wine and chocolate tasting put on by Australian Wine at Australia House in London went halfway to convincing me.
There’s still a couple of weeks more to enjoy the British asparagus season so here’s an interesting beer pairing to try as a change fromwine. Belgian witbier or bière blanche like Hoegaarden is just perfect with green asparagus, especially when served with goats’ cheese.
It’s hard to pick out the best match from my trip to Alsace last week but I think it has to go to this classic combination you find in every traditional restaurant.
Quite an adventurous pairing this week which you might have thought on paper wouldn’t come off. A hot, spicy pork and peanut stew and a glass of Ben Glaetzer’s bold, ripe 2010 Heartland Dolcetto & Lagrein from South Australia's Langhorne Creek.
Whenever I see a producer is about to pair their best wine with cheese my heart sinks, particularly if the cheese is ripe and the wine red. But on this occasion - a tasting and lunch at the Quality Chop House - it worked.
My final meal in New Zealand last week was also one of the most impressive of my recent trip: lunch at the award-winning Elephant Hill winery in Hawkes Bay.
Last week I was in Manchester for lunch at the new Hawksmoor, a restaurant I can hardly review given it’s one of my son Will’s.
I’m always on the lookout for interesting matches with alcohol-free drinks and this just inched it over a really good cider pairing at the Hang Fire Southern Kitchen yesterday.
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.
If i'm asked what my favourite wine is I usually say I don't have one as there are always moments when I fancy one wine more than anything else. But Pinot Noir has to be up there, especially a glorious, hedonistic Pinot like this Domaine Lucci Wildman Pinot which is one of the most delicious wines I've tasted all year*.
Today, being St George’s Day, what other pairing could I offer you but a classic British dish with a classic British beer?