Pairings | R

Matching food and Chablis

Matching food and Chablis

Despite the emphasis that winemakers place on the different crus or terroirs of Chablis three factors seem to me to influence a food match more than any other for most of the Chablis you’ll taste - the age of the wine, the vintage and the degree of oak influence, if any.

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

Top wine and beer matches for game

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.

What to drink with cake

What to drink with cake

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 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season’s vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

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.

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

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

If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.

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

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

The book I’ve been looking forward to most so far this year has just started being serialised in the Guardian today. It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi who founded two exceptional London restaurants and is simply called Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. l love Ottolenghi's food - it’s so generous and big-flavoured, piled high on bright, colourful platters - you can't fail to be tempted by it. It also lends itself perfectly to entertaining for large numbers at home.

Possibly the best truffle dinner ever

Possibly the best truffle dinner ever

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.

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

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).

What to drink with foraged food?

What to drink with foraged food?

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.

Normandy cider and creamy sauces

Normandy cider and creamy sauces

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.

Matching wine and charcuterie - an experiment

Matching wine and charcuterie - an experiment

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.

What to drink with chicken

What to drink with chicken

One of the most irritating recommendations you find on wine labels is ‘Drink with chicken’. Which kind do they mean - a simply roast bird or a coq au vin? A chicken salad or a Thai chicken curry? Chicken is such a neutral meat it depends entirely on the way that it’s cooked and the other flavours in the dish.

Wine and pepper

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.

Pairing beer with dessert

Pairing beer with dessert

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.

The tricky task of pairing wine and citrus

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.

Chicken with sweet peppers and Tempranillo

Chicken with sweet peppers and Tempranillo

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.

Spanish wine matches for Moro recipes

Spanish wine matches for Moro recipes

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.

What to drink with asparagus part I

What to drink with asparagus part I

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.

Five great cheese and wine pairings

Five great cheese and wine pairings

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.

What to drink with the turkey leftovers

What to drink with the turkey leftovers

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:

 The best wine pairings for partridge

The best wine pairings for partridge

I sometimes think partridge is my favourite game bird - less full-on and ‘gamey’ than pheasant, more subtle and delicate than chicken. But what to drink with it?

A Middle-Eastern inspired barbecue for eight

A Middle-Eastern inspired barbecue for eight

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.

Ideas for a beer and game menu

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):

A Champagne dinner fit for sommeliers

A Champagne dinner fit for sommeliers

One of the aspects of the World’s Best Sommelier competition I hadn’t really thought about is how on earth you create a menu for a roomful of sommeliers. And choose wine pairings they won’t be sniffy about. One way is to impress them with large format bottles and old vintages which is the route competition sponsor Moët et Chandon took . . .

Chablis at Nobu

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!)

Wine with lobster: 5 of the best pairings

Wine with lobster: 5 of the best pairings

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.

Which wines to pair with calamari/squid

Which wines to pair with calamari/squid

“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.

What to drink with cherry desserts

What to drink with cherry desserts

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.

8 great drinks to match with Stilton

8 great drinks to match with Stilton

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

Which wine to choose for Thanksgiving

Which wine to choose for Thanksgiving

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.

Christmas pairings with port, sherry and madeira

Christmas pairings with port, sherry and madeira

You may well have given a fair amount of thought by now to what you’ll be drinking with your turkey or goose and have set treasured bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy aside for the main Christmas meal. But what about all the other occasions over the festive period which these days tends to stretch a good 10 days into the early New Year?

6 of the best matches for chocolate mousse

6 of the best matches for chocolate mousse

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.

What food to match with red Bordeaux

What food to match with red Bordeaux

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?

Mushroom 'caviar' and Californian sparkling wine

Mushroom 'caviar' and Californian sparkling wine

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.

Which wine to drink with paella?

Which wine to drink with paella?

If you’re a bit hesitant about the idea of matching fish and red wine you might automatically think of pairing paella with a white wine. But I think it goes just as well with a rosé or a red.

9 great wine matches for duck

9 great wine matches for duck

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?

Celebrate your own Oktoberfest!

Celebrate your own Oktoberfest!

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.

What food to pair with mature Margaux

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.

Wines to pair with fennel

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.

Which wines pair best with raw food?

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.

What to drink with Turkish food

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"

Wine with chicken: red or white?

Wine with chicken: red or white?

Chicken can be served so many different ways you might wonder which type of wine makes the best pairing. The truth is there’s no single answer - it depends on your own personal taste and the way it’s cooked - but here's a simple guide:

Wine pairings for pumpkin pie

Wine pairings for pumpkin pie

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:

Wine and Indonesian food: which wine pairs best with Rijsttafel?

Wine and Indonesian food: which wine pairs best with Rijsttafel?

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.

Top wine matches for Cornish Blue

Top wine matches for Cornish Blue

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.

8 great drinks to match with mince pies

8 great drinks to match with mince pies

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

6 of the best matches for Brie

6 of the best matches for Brie

One of the world's most popular cheeses Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour. Try one of these top wine and other matches:

What to drink with venison and chocolate sauce

Being Easter it’s not surprising that there’s a focus on chocolate in the press today though I’m not sure how many of us would be bold enough to serve venison with chocolate sauce to our nearest and dearest as Mark Hix has done in the Independent today.

My tasting at the Wine & Culinary Forum, Barcelona

My tasting at the Wine & Culinary Forum, Barcelona

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

Raspberry and cherry beer jellies

Raspberry and cherry beer jellies

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.

How to pair wine with an authentic Indian meal

How to pair wine with an authentic Indian meal

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?

How to drink vodka like a Russian

How to drink vodka like a Russian

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.

Six of the best wines with a nut roast

Six of the best wines with a nut roast

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.

Roast lamb with a Douro red

Roast lamb with a Douro red

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.

John Dory poached in red wine with Daniel Rion Nuits-St-Georges

John Dory poached in red wine with Daniel Rion Nuits-St-Georges

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 impact does garlic have on wine pairing?

What impact does garlic have on wine pairing?

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.

The best food pairings for Pinotage

The best food pairings for Pinotage

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.

Some top food pairings for perry

Some top food pairings for perry

Real perry - as opposed to the often confected and artificially flavoured pear cider - has a different taste from cider. It’s more delicate, more fragrant, a better match for delicate ingredients like fish.

Can any wine stand up to Stinking Bishop?

Can any wine stand up to Stinking Bishop?

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?

5 great matches for IPA

5 great matches for IPA

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 . . .

What kind of food should you serve with fine wine?

What kind of food should you serve with fine wine?

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?

Banoffee martinis and other cocktail desserts

Banoffee martinis and other cocktail desserts

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?

What to drink with goose

What to drink with goose

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 choice of drink too.

Top wine pairings with goat cheese (chèvre)

Top wine pairings with goat cheese (chèvre)

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.

Chocolate and roasted Oolong tea

Chocolate and roasted Oolong tea

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.

British cheeses and cider

British cheeses and cider

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.

Rustle up a Red Nose Pudding!

Rustle up a Red Nose Pudding!

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.

What's the best wine to drink with Christmas pudding?

What's the best wine to drink with Christmas pudding?

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.

Best pairings with sticky toffee pudding

Best pairings with sticky toffee pudding

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?

Strawberries and elderflower cordial

Strawberries and elderflower cordial

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.

Cru classé Bordeaux and rack of lamb

Cru classé Bordeaux and rack of lamb

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.

So what IS a food-friendly wine?

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?

How to cook grouse

How to cook grouse

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.

Pairing wine and cheese with Max McCalman

Pairing wine and cheese with Max McCalman

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.

Pairing cheese and claret

Pairing cheese and claret

I’ve always had a bit of a problem finding cheese matches for claret. 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 . . .

Matching wine with Chinese food - time for a rethink?

Matching wine with Chinese food - time for a rethink?

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.

Six of the best pairings for a burger

Six of the best pairings for a burger

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?

Dry wines with fresh fruit

Dry wines with fresh fruit

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.

Red wine and peaches

Red wine and peaches

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.

Les-Baux-de-Provence and civet de sanglier (wild boar stew)

Les-Baux-de-Provence and civet de sanglier (wild boar stew)

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.

Game terrine and London dry gin

Game terrine and London dry gin

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.

A Valentine's dinner for lazy lovers

A Valentine's dinner for lazy lovers

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.

The best match for caviar - vodka or champagne?

The best match for caviar - vodka or champagne?

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 ...)

Craft beer and BBQ

Craft beer and BBQ

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.

The best food pairings for Pinot Noir

The best food pairings for Pinot Noir

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.

Six of the best matches for cheddar cheese

Six of the best matches for cheddar cheese

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.

Raspberry beer with chocolate and raspberries

Raspberry beer with chocolate and raspberries

If you’re looking for something really original to impress your Valentine next weekend try this fabulous pairing.

Kylie Kwong's roasted beef fillet with Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot

Kylie Kwong's roasted beef fillet with Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot

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 and marc de Bourgogne

Epoisses and marc de Bourgogne

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)

Apricot pancakes and apricot (or peach) beer

Apricot pancakes and apricot (or peach) beer

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 and orange wine

Apple tart and orange wine

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.

Pairing wine and Indian seafood

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

How beer and food matching is moving centre stage

How beer and food matching is moving centre stage

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.

Can Can chicken

Can Can chicken

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.

Must grouse wine matches be classic?

Must grouse wine matches be classic?

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.

The best wine matches for Caerphilly

The best wine matches for Caerphilly

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 . . .

The best wine matches for seabass

The best wine matches for seabass

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?

Six of the best wine matches for glazed ham

Six of the best wine matches for glazed ham

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.

6 versatile wine pairings for a Chinese New Year feast

6 versatile wine pairings for a Chinese New Year feast

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.

5 good matches for roast pork belly

5 good matches for roast pork belly

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 . . .

5 of the best food pairings for Australian Shiraz

5 of the best food pairings for Australian Shiraz

Shiraz, like every other wine, varies in style depending on its price, age and region of origin but you can be pretty sure when it comes to matching Australian shiraz we’re talking about a full-bodied red.

10 food pairings for peaty whiskies

10 food pairings for peaty whiskies

Following my trip to Islay a while ago I drew up some pairings for its extraordinary peaty whiskies. I’m not a great one for whisky dinners but I like the idea of serving tapa-sized dishes with a dram.

Chicken and vegetable tagine with southern French rosé

Chicken and vegetable tagine with southern French rosé

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.

Bakewell tart and Liefmans Kriek

Bakewell tart and Liefmans Kriek

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.

Dark, sticky Christmas cake with prunes and Guinness

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.

Pairing Pinot Noir and lamb

Pairing Pinot Noir and lamb

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.

A Krug champagne lunch at Murano: a perfect 10

A Krug champagne lunch at Murano: a perfect 10

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.

Andhra Curry-leaf Chicken

Andhra Curry-leaf Chicken

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.

Wine and lamb: my 5 favourite pairings

Wine and lamb: my 5 favourite pairings

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.

Which whisky pairs best with haggis?

Which whisky pairs best with haggis?

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:

Which food to pair with South African chenin blanc

Which food to pair with South African chenin blanc

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

What to drink with an omelette (or frittata)

What to drink with an omelette (or frittata)

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.

What to drink with chicken wings (and your other Superbowl snacks)

What to drink with chicken wings (and your other Superbowl snacks)

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).

The best wine matches for a Chinese stir-fry

The best wine matches for a Chinese stir-fry

With Chinese New Year being celebrated next week the shelves are full of stir-fries so what are the best wine pairings?

The best pairings for amontillado and palo cortado sherry

The best pairings for amontillado and palo cortado sherry

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.

8 great wine (and other) matches for roast chicken

8 great wine (and other) matches for roast chicken

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.

Wild boar and Monty's French Red

Wild boar and Monty's French Red

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

Smoked herring roes on toast and oyster stout

Smoked herring roes on toast and oyster stout

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.

Piggie burger and Pinot Noir

Piggie burger and Pinot Noir

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.

Pickled herrings with lager and akvavit

Pickled herrings with lager and akvavit

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).

Perry and a Ploughman's

Perry and a Ploughman's

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.

Palais Royal and Roquefort

Palais Royal and Roquefort

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.

10 year old tawny with bitter chocolate and malt tart with salted caramel ice cream

10 year old tawny with bitter chocolate and malt tart with salted caramel ice cream

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.

Chocolate and cherry roulade

Chocolate and cherry roulade

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.

10 tips for cold weather drinking

10 tips for cold weather drinking

With temperatures falling well below freezing this weekend it’s a timely reminder that matching drinks is not just about flavour but temperature and alcohol levels too.

My 5 top wine and steak pairing tips

My 5 top wine and steak pairing tips

Steak is the ideal foil for a good red but is there a perfect match? You could simply say the one you most enjoy but it also depends on the cut and the way you cook it.

Which wines to drink on St Patrick's Day

Which wines to drink on St Patrick's Day

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.

Wines to match different pasta sauces

Wines to match different pasta sauces

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

What food to pair with Vin Santo?

What food to pair with Vin Santo?

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.

6 perfect pairings for pumpkin pie

6 perfect pairings for pumpkin pie

if you're planning to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving here are some great wine and other pairings to serve with it.

5 wine and beer pairings for shepherd’s pie

5 wine and beer pairings for shepherd’s pie

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.

10 good wine pairings with paté

10 good wine pairings with paté

And by paté I’m thinking of 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.

Mackerel pasty and Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2006

Mackerel pasty and Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2006

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.

Lambs sweetbreads with girolles and Louis Roederer Rich Champagne

Lambs sweetbreads with girolles and Louis Roederer Rich Champagne

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!)

Elderflower fritters and Moscato d'Asti

Elderflower fritters and Moscato d'Asti

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.

Crayfish and Crab Cocktail with Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling

Crayfish and Crab Cocktail with Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling

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!)

Wine and game matching revisited

Wine and game matching revisited

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.

A Champagne (or sparkling wine) tasting and Russian-style smoked salmon and 'caviar' feast

A Champagne (or sparkling wine) tasting and Russian-style smoked salmon and 'caviar' feast

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.

Which wines pair best with steak

Which wines pair best with steak

Quite an old article from the archives (first published in Decanter in 2007) but the advice still holds good, I reckon. Although I had a fantastic bottle of 2008 Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir with a T-bone rather than a fillet the other day. But that would taste good with anything.

Which wine (or beer) to pair with roast beef

Which wine (or beer) to pair with roast beef

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.

What to drink with Coronation chicken?

What to drink with Coronation chicken?

Coronation chicken has been given a new lease of life by the Diamond Jubilee celebrations but what wine - or beer - should you pair with it?

6 of the best pairings for chilli con carne

6 of the best pairings for chilli con carne

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.

The best wine pairings with Caesar salad

The best wine pairings with Caesar salad

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.

The best wine pairings for vitello tonnato (veal with tuna and anchovy mayonnaise)

The best wine pairings for vitello tonnato (veal with tuna and anchovy mayonnaise)

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 drink with it?

15 Easter wine pairings to learn by heart

15 Easter wine pairings to learn by heart

As with my previous ‘learn by heart’ posts this is simply a quick way to remember great food and wine pairings at a busy time of year. There are of course other possibilities to which the links will guide you.

Smoked trout and a Tricycle

Smoked trout and a Tricycle

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.

Roast turkey and Chivite Coleccion 125 reserva 2001

Roast turkey and Chivite Coleccion 125 reserva 2001

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.

Roast turkey and 2009 Beaujolais

Roast turkey and 2009 Beaujolais

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.

Raspberry cranachan and Black Tokyo Horizon

Raspberry cranachan and Black Tokyo Horizon

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.

Pork scratchings and Nyetimber 2006

Pork scratchings and Nyetimber 2006

This may be a mystifying pairing to those of you who don't live in the UK but bear with me ....

Guacamole, salsa and a citrussy pale ale

Guacamole, salsa and a citrussy pale ale

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.

Brown shrimps and cucumber with Corail Ros 2010

Brown shrimps and cucumber with Corail Ros 2010

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.

An alternative Burns Night supper for six

An alternative Burns Night supper for six

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...)

Mount Rozier Merlot 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa

Mount Rozier Merlot 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa

South African wine is in a good place at the moment - better quality than ever and terrifically good value as this bargain underlines.

Oktoberfest Chicken

Oktoberfest Chicken

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.

Josceline Dimbleby's Crispy Pigeon Pie

Josceline Dimbleby's Crispy Pigeon Pie

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.

Gizzi's Thai Roast Duck & Watermelon Salad

Gizzi's Thai Roast Duck & Watermelon Salad

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.

Top food pairings with Barbera

Top food pairings with Barbera

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.

Some top beer and wine pairings for Cheshire cheese

Some top beer and wine pairings for Cheshire cheese

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.

Matching fish soup

Matching fish soup

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.

Eight great drink pairings for sushi

Eight great drink pairings for sushi

You might think sushi would be tricky to match with wine but surprisingly that’s not the case. And there are other drinks that work too . . .

 Some great food pairings for tequila

Some great food pairings for tequila

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

Seared cod with red wine sauce and Premier Cru Santenay

Seared cod with red wine sauce and Premier Cru Santenay

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.

Savoury pancakes and sparkling cider

Savoury pancakes and sparkling cider

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.

Roast suckling pig and amber ale

Roast suckling pig and amber ale

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.

Rabbit (or chicken) with spring vegetables and Viognier

Rabbit (or chicken) with spring vegetables and Viognier

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.

Lapin au vin and Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir

Lapin au vin and Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir

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)

Hawksmoor hot dog and Seven Barrels Red Rye IPA

Hawksmoor hot dog and Seven Barrels Red Rye IPA

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)

Guineafowl with cherries and Beaujolais

Guineafowl with cherries and Beaujolais

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.

Chicken pot pie and perry

Chicken pot pie and perry

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.

Calves' liver and Marcillac

Calves' liver and Marcillac

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.

Butternut squash and barrel-fermented Chardonnay

Butternut squash and barrel-fermented Chardonnay

Even if you're not a fan of the blockbuster style of Chardonnay still favoured by many producers you have to admit it meets its match in butternut squash. Why? Because the rich sweetness of the squash kicks the sometimes over-exuberant tropical fruit and vanilla-scented oak into touch and magically transforms them into an elegant, refreshing glassful.

Bacon, egg and claret

Bacon, egg and claret

You might think the idea of eating bacon and egg with good claret is sacrilege but bear with me.

Joseph Drouhin Rully rouge 2012

Joseph Drouhin Rully rouge 2012

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?

More pairings with Indian 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.

Porc à la moutarde

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.

Matching food and wine at Le Gavroche

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.

Pairing cognac and cheese

Pairing cognac and cheese

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, Little Wilbraham: not your average country pub

The Hole in the Wall, Little Wilbraham: not your average country pub

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

Twice-baked goats' cheese soufflés

Twice-baked goats' cheese soufflés

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 . . .

Simon Hopkinson's Oysters Rockefeller

Simon Hopkinson's Oysters Rockefeller

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.

Lobster thermidor baked potatoes

Lobster thermidor baked potatoes

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 . . .

What Food, What Wine? Indian: which type of wine pairs best with a curry

What Food, What Wine? Indian: which type of wine pairs best with a curry

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.

What miracle berries do to your palate

What miracle berries do to your palate

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 best food matches with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The best food matches with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

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 need big flavours on your plate to stand up to it.

A zany day in Alsace

A zany day in Alsace

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.

Turkish coffee cake and espresso

Turkish coffee cake and espresso

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.

Spiced parsnip soup with Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted

Spiced parsnip soup with Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted

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

Smoked haddock and apple salad with New Zealand Riesling

Smoked haddock and apple salad with New Zealand Riesling

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.

Sea bass carpaccio and Grüner Veltliner

Sea bass carpaccio and Grüner Veltliner

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.

Roast venison with tapenade and a modern Spanish red

Roast venison with tapenade and a modern Spanish red

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.

Provençal-style fish soup and Picpoul de Pinet

Provençal-style fish soup and Picpoul de Pinet

We’re down in the Languedoc for a few days and ended up at one of our favourite fish restaurant Le Glacier at Marseillan.

Pigeon 'tagine' with Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle 1994

Pigeon 'tagine' with Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle 1994

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.

Pear frangipane tart with Pacherenc du Vic Bilh

Pear frangipane tart with Pacherenc du Vic Bilh

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'.

Oyster rarebit and Guinness

Oyster rarebit and Guinness

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.

'Meat fruit' with Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Larmes Célestes 2004

'Meat fruit' with Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Larmes Célestes 2004

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.

Grüner Veltliner and salt cod

Grüner Veltliner and salt cod

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.

Gladstone Pinot Noir and hare royale

Gladstone Pinot Noir and hare royale

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.

Fish curry and Gruner Veltliner

Fish curry and Gruner Veltliner

Last week I hosted a tasting for Bristol-based spice company The Spicery in which we explored a number of different wine pairings for different styles of curry - including an Indian Shiraz!

Cold sesame noodles and weissbier

Cold sesame noodles and weissbier

Thanks to my friend Signe Johansen of Scandilicious I finally got to Koya in Frith Street the other day - London’s food bloggers most popular noodle haunt and the winner of last year’s Observer Food Monthly’s Best Cheap Eats award.

Cicheti and an Aperol Spritz

Cicheti and an Aperol Spritz

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.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and Thierry Puzelat Pinot Noir

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and Thierry Puzelat Pinot Noir

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).

Cheese fondue and Chasselas

Cheese fondue and Chasselas

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.

Fragola Spezieria Liquore alle Fragoline, Bepi Tosolini

Fragola Spezieria Liquore alle Fragoline, Bepi Tosolini

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.

Which wine to match with Dover sole?

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.

A classic English meal with a perfectly matched French wine

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.

Sybil Kapoor's apple and blackberry meringue

Sybil Kapoor's apple and blackberry meringue

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."

Mushroom and Mustard soup

Mushroom and Mustard soup

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.

Espresso and Hazelnut Cake and Fairtrade Coffee

Espresso and Hazelnut Cake and Fairtrade Coffee

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.

Apricot brandy pancakes

Apricot brandy pancakes

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.

Pairing Errazuriz wines at Pollen Street Social

Pairing Errazuriz wines at Pollen Street Social

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.

What wine (and other drinks) to pair with poke

What wine (and other drinks) to pair with poke

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).

What to pair with Camembert: 5 great drink matches

What to pair with Camembert: 5 great drink matches

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.

Which wine pairs best with salad?

Which wine pairs best with salad?

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.

Six of the best matches for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Six of the best matches for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’re looking for the ideal food pairing for a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (or any other full-bodied cabernet) you don’t have to look very far. Almost any red meat, especially served rare, is going to do the trick.

Four favourite wine matches for coq au vin

Four favourite wine matches for coq au vin

Today (May 29th) is bizarrely National Coq au Vin day (who on earth decides these things?) and here, on cue, are four of my favourite wine pairings for this classic French dish.

6 of the best matches for fish and chips

6 of the best matches for fish and chips

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?

Wild boar with cherry sauce and Karam Corpus Christi

Wild boar with cherry sauce and Karam Corpus Christi

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)

Velouté of asparagus with Grüner Veltliner

Velouté of asparagus with Grüner Veltliner

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*

Tuna tartare with wasabi aioli and Prager Grüner Veltliner

Tuna tartare with wasabi aioli and Prager Grüner Veltliner

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.

Thai beef salad and off-dry Riesling

Thai beef salad and off-dry Riesling

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.

Sweetbreads, morels and madeira

Sweetbreads, morels and madeira

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

Sushi and Genmaicha (Japanese green tea with roasted rice)

Sushi and Genmaicha (Japanese green tea with roasted rice)

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.

Smoked duck and blood orange salad with Chilean Gewürztraminer

Smoked duck and blood orange salad with Chilean Gewürztraminer

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.

Roast pigeon and Salice Salentino

Roast pigeon and Salice Salentino

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.

Plaice with clams, girolles and mash with FMC Chenin

Plaice with clams, girolles and mash with FMC Chenin

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.

Pecan pie and Kingston Black apple aperitif

Pecan pie and Kingston Black apple aperitif

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).

Lamb with coriander and the Garage Wine Company's Cabernet/Carignan

Lamb with coriander and the Garage Wine Company's Cabernet/Carignan

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.

Gorwydd Caerphilly and white burgundy

Gorwydd Caerphilly and white burgundy

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).

Double IPA and pork belly

Double IPA and pork belly

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.

Chilli con carne and American brown ale

Chilli con carne and American brown ale

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

Braised saltmarsh lamb at Langford Fivehead

Braised saltmarsh lamb at Langford Fivehead

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

Summer ideas for cheese plates

Summer ideas for cheese plates

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.

Wines to match Angela Hartnett's Easter menu

If you’re trying to get ahead for Easter here are some suggestions to match Angela Hartnett’s menu in the Daily Telegraph today.

Pairing wine with Szechuan (or Sichuan) cuisine

Pairing wine with Szechuan (or Sichuan) cuisine

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.

Does craft beer suit posh food?

Does craft beer suit posh food?

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?

Cheese and cider matching revisited

Cheese and cider matching revisited

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.

A beer dinner in the heart of Paris shows how the French are taking to craft beer

A beer dinner in the heart of Paris shows how the French are taking to craft beer

Lotte Peplow sees American craft brewers persuade the French that wine is not the only thing to drink with a meal ....

Thomasina Miers' Mole Amarillo

Thomasina Miers' Mole Amarillo

To celebrate Day of the Dead - or maybe even Bonfire Night - here's a fabulous warming spicy Mexican stew for 10 from Thomasina Miers' Wahaca: Mexican food at Home.

Barbecued Chicken with Yellow Mustard Sauce

Barbecued Chicken with Yellow Mustard Sauce

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

Can any wine survive a Vindaloo?

Can any wine survive a Vindaloo?

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?

The best wine - and other - pairings for leeks

The best wine - and other - pairings for leeks

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 ... )

The 4 best wine pairings for a classic Pancake Day pancake

The 4 best wine pairings for a classic Pancake Day pancake

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?

Good wine pairings for Saint-Nectaire

Good wine pairings for Saint-Nectaire

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.

5 great beer pairings for roast turkey

5 great beer pairings for roast turkey

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.

When food and wine matching doesn't matter

When food and wine matching doesn't matter

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.

Steak tartare and Côteaux du Languedoc

Steak tartare and Côteaux du Languedoc

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.

Steak pie and strong ale

Steak pie and strong ale

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).

Slow roast pork belly with a ‘Gardener’s Old Fashioned’

Slow roast pork belly with a ‘Gardener’s Old Fashioned’

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.

San Pellegrino and seafood

San Pellegrino and seafood

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.

Roast duck and Bull's Blood

Roast duck and Bull's Blood

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.

Montlouis Sec and crab

Montlouis Sec and crab

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).

Mackerel en escabeche with manzanilla sherry

Mackerel en escabeche with manzanilla sherry

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.

Kibbeh and Domaine des Tourelles red

Kibbeh and Domaine des Tourelles red

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.

Jasnières, Gorwydd Caerphilly and apple, pear and ginger jelly

Jasnières, Gorwydd Caerphilly and apple, pear and ginger jelly

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.

Cahors and duck 'parmentier'

Cahors and duck 'parmentier'

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.

Braised brill with truffles and La Rocca Soave

Braised brill with truffles and La Rocca Soave

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.

Boiled Ballycotton lobster and premier cru Chablis

Boiled Ballycotton lobster and premier cru Chablis

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.

Artichoke barigoule and grüner veltliner

Artichoke barigoule and grüner veltliner

So maybe Austria’s signature grape grüner veltliner is the perfect pairing for tricky-to-match artichokes?

6 easy cocktails to make for Valentine’s Day

6 easy cocktails to make for Valentine’s Day

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 . . .

The Exquisite Collection Gavi 2012 and 3 other Aldi bargains

The Exquisite Collection Gavi 2012 and 3 other Aldi bargains

If you’re after an inexpensive white to take you through the summer you need look no further than this smart Gavi from Aldi which they’re selling for the ridiculously low price of £4.99. £4.99! In fact I’d be hard-pushed to think of any Italian white that’s better value at under a fiver.

Beer and food pairing at Meantime

Beer and food pairing at Meantime

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.

A challenging game menu

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?

What to drink at a wedding . . .

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?

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

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

An unusually complicated recipe for this site but one which should be absolutely worth the effort. It comes from Phil Howard's fantastic The Square: The Cookbook volume 1 which I suspect is already well-thumbed in many restaurant kitchens.

Pomegranate Eton Mess

Pomegranate Eton Mess

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!

Oktoberfest potato salad

Oktoberfest potato salad

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.

Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with smashed cucumber

Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with smashed cucumber

A simple but spectacular Japanese-style dish from Diana Henry's marvellous new book A Change of Appetite which I've also reviewed on the site here.

Why mineral waters taste different

Why mineral waters taste different

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.

Is red wine a good match for chocolate?

Is red wine a good match for chocolate?

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.

Is cider more food-friendly than wine?

Is cider more food-friendly than wine?

Susanna Forbes of Drink Britain reports on a vigorously fought contest over dinner at The Thatchers Arms near Colchester last month

Witbier and asparagus

Witbier and asparagus

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.

What food to pair with coffee

What food to pair with coffee

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.

The best wine pairings with cheese fondue, raclette and tartiflette

The best wine pairings with cheese fondue, raclette and tartiflette

Before we finally step into spring you might want to take your chance to make one of the great ski-food classics, fondue, raclette or tartiflette.

Six of the best wine (and other) pairings with chicken pie

Six of the best wine (and other) pairings with chicken pie

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?

Six food pairings for gin that might surprise you

Six food pairings for gin that might surprise you

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?

Food pairings for wheat beer II - hefeweizen, dunkelweizen and other German-style wheat beers

Food pairings for wheat beer II - hefeweizen, dunkelweizen and other German-style wheat beers

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 and Cheese: my 5 favourite pairings

Beer and Cheese: my 5 favourite pairings

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.

White fish in cream sauce and Alsace Riesling

White fish in cream sauce and Alsace Riesling

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.

West African pork and peanut stew with Heartland Dolcetto & Lagrein

West African pork and peanut stew with Heartland Dolcetto & Lagrein

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.

Tunworth cheese and Hubert Lignier Charmes Chambertin

Tunworth cheese and Hubert Lignier Charmes Chambertin

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.

Seared tuna with sesame and 2013 Elephant Hill Syrah

Seared tuna with sesame and 2013 Elephant Hill Syrah

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.

Runaway American Brown Ale and chicken poutine

Runaway American Brown Ale and chicken poutine

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.

Root beer and fried chicken and waffles

Root beer and fried chicken and waffles

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.

Rheinhessen silvaner and penne with tomatoes and peppers

Rheinhessen silvaner and penne with tomatoes and peppers

I must confess I’ve never associated German wines with pasta dishes especially ones based on summer vegetables like tomatoes and peppers but then I haven’t come across many genuinely dry German wines in Italian restaurants before.

Rabbit ballotine with Domaine Lucci Wildman Pinot Noir

Rabbit ballotine with Domaine Lucci Wildman Pinot Noir

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*.

Pork pie and pale ale

Pork pie and pale ale

Today, being St George’s Day, what other pairing could I offer you but a classic British dish with a classic British beer?

Maroilles and premier cru Chablis

Maroilles and premier cru Chablis

Visitors to this website will be used to my recommending white wine with cheese by now but I didn’t anticipate how good this particular combination would be.

Lobster burger and Kumeu River Chardonnay

Lobster burger and Kumeu River Chardonnay

I’m conscious there’s a marked French bias in the pairings on this site so I’m going to go not for the excellent Alsace riesling and choucroute combo I had last week - or the many amazing wine matches at the Szechuan dinner which I’ve written up here but a very flashy lobster ‘burger’ and chardonnay I had at the Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard

Kedgeree and Western Australia Semillon

Kedgeree and Western Australia Semillon

I realised the other day that there’s a marked French bias to this site. Partly because I spend a fair bit of time in France but also, I have to admit, because I do enjoy drinking French wine. So here, in an attempt to redress the balance and to celebrate Australia Day is an unusual but highly successful Aussie pairing.

Gruyère and 20 year old tawny port

Gruyère and 20 year old tawny port

Port and cheese is one of those combinations that hardly needs questioning but there are some variants on the theme that still have the ability to surprise as I discovered when I worked my way through a selection of Taylor's ports and Paxton & Whitfield cheeses the other day.

Grilled sardines and - eeek! - Sir Cliff's Onda Nova Verdelho

Grilled sardines and - eeek! - Sir Cliff's Onda Nova Verdelho

As the best summer for a barbeque for some years it’s been a frustrating time for us flat-dwellers but when I was sent some fresh sardines* the other day I knew I was going to have to find some way to grill them outside if the flat wasn’t going to smell of fish for days.

Duck with figs and Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir

Duck with figs and Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir

I know duck and Pinot is a bit of a no-brainer but this was such a great dish and such a stellar wine that it's worth revisiting. (Coupled with the fact that some of you may be having duck for Christmas.)

Dark chocolate tart with 10 year old Tawny

Dark chocolate tart with 10 year old Tawny

One gets so used to partnering dark chocolate with sweet red wines, most notably port, that it’s easy to overlook other equally successful options. This was a brilliant combination I came across - somewhat improbably - at the game and Burgundy dinner I reported on last week.

Chicken caesar salad and blonde ale

Chicken caesar salad and blonde ale

It’s so automatic to think of a wine match these days that one sometimes overlooks the fact that a beer will work just as well, if not better. So it is with that great restaurant favourite, chicken caesar salad.

Cheeseburgers and cabernet

Cheeseburgers and cabernet

Last night we went round to some new friends and they made the most delicious home-made burgers.

Ceviche and pisco sour

Ceviche and pisco sour

I’ve been in Chile for the past week at the World’s Best Sommelier competition and have plenty to report about that but here’s a great non-wine match in the meantime - and a couple of tips about how to make an authentic Pisco Sour.

Carrot and basil-infused slugs and Saumur Blanc

Carrot and basil-infused slugs and Saumur Blanc

For the first time my match of the week is not one I’ve experienced myself but was reported by Ron Zimmerman of The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington on Twitter (where he tweets as Herbguy - and I tweet as winematcher)

 Vinsobres with wild boar stew and chestnut polenta

Vinsobres with wild boar stew and chestnut polenta

You’d expect a Southern Rhône red to go with wild boar but in fact it was the chestnut polenta that made the match with this former Côtes du Rhône ‘cru’ so successful

Valpolicella Ripasso 2013 Cantina Valpantena

Valpolicella Ripasso 2013 Cantina Valpantena

If you’re on holiday in the wilds of nowhere chances are your only shop - in the UK at least - is a Spar. I would at one point have said that spelled death to the chance of a decent bottle of wine but was recently sent a selection which really wasn’t half bad.

Delas Grignan-les-Adhemar 2013

Delas Grignan-les-Adhemar 2013

One of the problems about buying wine these days is that there’s just too much choice. But if I had to stick to just one wine this Christmas it would be this gutsy red from the Rhone.

Cider Find: Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider

Cider Find: Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider

A departure this week - a cider not a wine - and an American cider at that. I tasted it in Oddbins at the end of a wine tasting and was really blown away by it

 Wine of the week: Terre di Faiano Primitivo Salento 2015

Wine of the week: Terre di Faiano Primitivo Salento 2015

Today, if you weren’t aware, is the first day of Organic September, a month-long celebration of organic food and drink. So maybe a good opportunity to explore organic wine.

Why are beer drinkers so grumpy?

Why are beer drinkers so grumpy?

Whenever I write about beer in my Guardian column - which is not that often and in a minute you’ll see why - there’s a stream of snide and sarcastic comments. Far more than I ever get for wine

Top wine pairings at Texture

Texture is one of the few restaurants to showcase a sommelier, the star in this instance being Xavier Rousset who used to work at The Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. His two year partnership at Texture with his former colleague Agnar Sverrisson has just been acknowledged with a Michelin star. I’ve reviewed it for Decanter here but the pairings were so exceptional I thought I’d go into more detail about them.

A match for pan-fried steak in a creamy mustard sauce

Q Could you make a suggestion for a pan-fried flank steak with a mustard/cream sauce consisting of shallots, white wine, chicken stock, cream, and Dijon mustard?

Who’s pairing what? From bacon and beer to Earl Grey and lemon cake . . .

Who’s pairing what? From bacon and beer to Earl Grey and lemon cake . . .

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: