Pairings | Sauvignon blanc
As with other grape varieties sauvignon blanc varies markedly from one part of the world to the other - from the crisp minerally wines of the Loire to the exuberant grassy herbaceous sauvignons of New Zealand's Marlborough region.
If you’re a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc fan you’re going to love this month’s prize - a 12 bottle case of the 2012 vintage of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc worth over £200 at UK retail prices. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED BUT DON'T WORRY - THERE'LL BE ANOTHER ONE SOON!
As those of you who read my column in the Guardian will know I’m not a huge fan of Sauvignon Blanc but this is a wine I’m more than happy to make an exception for.
I’ve been tasting a lot of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc this week but was also reminded how well it goes with Asian food at Peter Gordon’s new restaurant Kopapa.
Despite the freak flurries of snow and sub arctic temperatures last week spring has officially arrived and with it longer daylight hours and a switch to lighter eating. For me there’s no combination that reflects the season better than goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, one of the great classic food and wine pairings.
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.
If you’re a Sauvignon Blanc fan but are looking for something a little different try this deliciously fresh, elegant Chilean Sauvignon.
Having spent my first two days in South Africa in regions that specialise in Sauvignon Blanc (Elgin and Constantia) it won’t greatly surprise you I’ve been drinking a fair bit of it. The greater surprise, as someone who has become Sauvignon-weary is how much I’ve been enjoying it.
As I’m off to New Zealand in January I’m trying to get up to speed with what’s going on over there so I leapt at the opportunity to attend a vertical from one of Marlborough’s leading producers Dog Point.
What on earth do you do when you have a line-up of some of the best wines in the world in front of you? Do you attempt to match them or reflect more the mood, the company and the time of year? Or, given that they're indisputably the hero of the occasion, do you just go with the sort of food the kitchen does well anyway?
It’s always a bit hairy doing a live food and wine pairing if you haven’t had a chance to have a run-through first - and even if you have some variable, usually the food, invariably changes.
Last week I caught up with Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte which I visited a couple of years ago when the winery was nominated Wine Tourism Champion by the Great Wine Capitals of the World (you can find my Decanter article on the experience here).
Given that I’m not a massive sauvignon fan it might surprise you that it features as my match of the week for the second successive week but it’s a question of quality. With the right dish good sauvignon is a joy.
On Saturday, as I mentioned in my blog, I was at a food and wine festival in Constantia, where we wandered round the impossibly beautiful Buitenverwachting estate sipping wine and grazing on upmarket canapés devised by a selection of the area's best local chefs. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon ....
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.
I know I’ve highlighted crab as a match for a number of different wines but it really is a great dish to pick if you’re drinking a serious white. This time however the wine was far from stellar: the basic house Sauvignon at Culinaria in Bristol where I was doing a photo shoot for our next book.
You’re probably expecting me to recommend a Mother’s Day fizz but I’m going to suggest a great red to pour for the Sunday lunch you’re going to (I hope) treat her to instead. Especially if you’re having roast lamb.
Whenever anyone talks about foods that are difficult to match with wine, asparagus always comes up but I reckon the problem is overstated.
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.
Forget for the moment my often-advocated match of chilled red wine with salmon, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a wild fish it deserves one of your best whites. Here are my suggested matches for Mark Hix’ recipes in the Independent today:
Peashoots exemplify the delicate flavours of spring as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall persuasively argues in the Guardian today. How do you find a wine that won’t overwhelm them?
An edited version of a very interesting article written for the Oxford Wine Company's magazine by cheese expert Juliet Harbutt, organiser of the Great British Cheese Festival and author of The World Encyclopaedia of Cheese.
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?
If there’s one dish more difficult to pair with wine than already tricky tomatoes it’s gazpacho, the chilled Spanish summer soup that includes raw onion and peppers as well. So what wine should you match with it?
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.
For most people the New Zealand winery Cloudy Bay is synonymous with sauvignon blanc but their range now extends to sparkling, sweet and red wines, a message underlined by a dinner at Hix Mayfair (in Brown’s Hotel) the other day.
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.
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:
With the Thai New Year celebrations coming up you may well be planning to eat in a Thai restaurant or host a Thai meal at home. But which drinks are the best to serve?
Scallops are some of the most delicious seafood around and some of the most flattering to a serious white wine. There’s one grape variety that will almost always see you right but also some other options
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.
South African wine is in a good place at the moment - better quality than ever and terrifically good value as this bargain underlines.
Tuna’s a versatile summer ingredient that you can use in salads or on the barbecue. Quick and easy to cook, like salmon a conductor of many different flavours it's also a meaty fish which adapts just as well to a red as to a white.
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.
The thing you need to ask yourself when you’re wondering which wine - or other drink - to match with Mexican food is what kind of Mexican. Authentic Mexican or Tex Mex?
If you’re a fan of sauvignon blanc you’re going to love this fresh, aromatic Sicilian white from one of the island's best known wineries, Planeta.
Mangoes are in the news for all the wrong reasons this week with the EU having implemented a ban* on the much-prized Alphonso mangoes, frequently referred to as the ‘king of fruit’.
A lot of chefs - particularly male chefs - don't really get salads, making them either an afterthought or wildly, elaborately fussy. Mark Hix of the Independent is an exception - his are always simple but imaginative, reflecting the season perfectly. Here are my matches for his recipes in the Independent this weekend.
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
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.
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.
If you haven't yet worked out what to drink tomorrow (which is February 14th, if you need reminding!) here are a few suggestions to match popular Valentine's Day foods.
As we head into the second half of August here are my top pairings for one of my favourite summer foods, prawns - or shrimp as they’re known over the pond.
Summer is the perfect time of year to eat crab so why not try out your wine pairing skills and work out which wines you'd match with these eight different crab dishes. My own suggestions below . . .
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.
Although we wine writers like to think we might be able to encourage you to be more adventurous in your wine choices this Christmas the truth is you’re probably going to stick to the wines you're familiar with.
I wouldn’t have thought of proferring wine pairings for garlic cheesy bread had I not stumbled across the fact that it was the most repinned image on Pinterest. Exceeding even sparkly toes!
This week is National Pie Week in the UK - not that we Brits need much encouragement to eat pies. But which is the better match - wine or beer?
Smoked salmon is most commonly associated with champagne but in fact it goes with many other wines as well as with beer, whisky and vodka.
Hot on the heels of its best ever medal tally in the International Wine Challenge, English wine is under the spotlight again this week which has been designated English Wine Week. It was sparkling wines that did particularly well in the Challenge but I have a soft spot for a variety called Bacchus, a white wine with a refreshing, sappy hedgerow freshness, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc. Camel Valley in Cornwall makes a particularly good version.
Mark Hix may have been knocking back the tequila on his recent trip to Mexico but if you’re not made of such stern stuff try my alternative suggestions for his Mexican-inspired recipes in the Independent today.
I’m not quite sure whether it’s a blessing or a curse to be able to access the English papers so easily on-line these days. It makes it hard to resist the temptation to have a peek and therefore harder to cut off.
Chefs' recipes are often complicated but you couldn't ask for a simpler, more summery dish than this fabulous fish recipe from Nathan Outlaw's Fish Kitchen*.
A stunning recipe from Bruce Poole's cookbook Bruce's Cookbook that shows barbeques don't have to be all about burgers and ribs.
Sunday marked not only the start of the Chinese New Year but the Vietnamese New Year celebrations too - known as Tet. As in China there are certain foods which are traditional to the occasion such as pickled vegetables and candied fruits, none of which are particularly wine-friendly but in general I find Vietnamese food, with its milder heat and fragrant herbal flavours easier to match than Thai (although I haven’t had such extensive experience of doing so).
The 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:
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.
Roquefort cheese is unusual in having such a frequently recommended wine match (Sauternes) that you may wonder if it’s worth drinking anything else but depending how you serve it there are a number of other options.
Now that we're back into months with an 'r' in them it's time to enjoy oysters again. But what’s the best wine - or beer - to pair with them?
The perfect match for lamb is red wine, right? Well, mostly but not always as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in the Guardian this weekend and my own recent experience have demonstrated
The idea of doing a post on wine matches with brussels sprouts might strike you as a tad over the top - after all who eats sprouts on their own? (Answer: me. Whenever I get the chance.)
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?
Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year so if you’re vegetarian yourself or cooking for one here are some perfect pairings for some delicious festive recipes from the web.
Although you rarely match a wine to vegetables such as peas or beans they do have an influence on pairings. Peas have a natural sweetness, broad beans an earthiness and runner beans a herbaceous flavour that can affect the style of wine you choose. Here are my suggestions to go with the four recipes in Mark Hix’s column in the Independent today.
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.
One of the advantages of BYO is that you can have a stab at matching your wine to the menu. Particularly when you know exactly what each course will be. But sometimes the description is a bit vague as in Saturday’s ‘layered salad’ at the Montpelier Basement supper club in Bristol.*
Apologies for returning once again to the subject of crab but it is one of my favourite summer foods and this was the outstanding match of last week.
The 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.
Only a merchant with a pedigree like Berry Bros & Rudd could consider an £8.45 bottle a ‘house wine’ but if your usual fare is classed growth claret I guess it is.
It’s the time of year to look back and review the best food and wine matches of 2011. Some were comfortingly familiar, some a total surprise to me. What they had in common was that the combination was more than the sum of the parts. The drink - in most cases wine - made the food taste more delicious, the food just made the wine sing. I hope you enjoy something similar in 2012.
Apple tarts are one of the most flattering desserts to match with sweet wines but what do you drink with other apple-based desserts?
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
I was interested to read in the Telegraph this weekend that Ken Hom is planning to move from his French base in Cahors to spend more time in Italy and Thailand.
Scallops are normally a sure-fire match for chardonnay so it was quite a challenge to think of some alternatives for Skye Gyngell’s inventive recipes in the Independent on Sunday today.
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.
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.
One of the more endearing aspects of the current British food scene is the number of festivals devoted to a single food. I’d heard of oyster festivals, crab festivals and cheese festivals but I’d never come across a scallop festival before.
For the next 10 days I’m going to be visiting the vineyards of Oregon and Washington State so the site will turn into more of a blog. Our first day yesterday included lunch at Chateau Ste Michelle, by far Washington’s largest wine producer.
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook - perfect for this time of year.
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!
A recipe from a charming and inventive cookbook this week - blogger Rejina Sabur-Cross's Gastrogeek. I've picked it because I love dips - who doesn't? - but also because of the amazing-looking crackers.
A show-stopping lemon meringue pie with a fashionable twist from Will Torrent's Patisserie at Home - a great book if you aspire to cook like a pastry chef (but don't be daunted. The instructions are particularly clear.)
I always think it's hard to improve on macaroni cheese but adding crab, which my mate Fiona Sims has done in her brilliant new The Boat Cookbook, is an inspired touch.
Finding a special occasion vegetarian dish is tough if you're not a veggie yourself but try this show-stopping recipe from Sabrina Ghayour's Persiana which won best new cookbook at this week's Observer Food Monthly awards.
This brilliant storecupboard dip was taught to me by my friend cookery writer Trish Deseine who rustled it up in no time when I was staying with her recently.
I’ve written before about pairing wine with Chinese food - and so have some of my contributors but here’s a slightly different way of going about it that may help you decide which bottle to choose and make your pairings more successful. It involves deciding which flavours are predominant in a dish or selection of dishes.
If you’re celebrating July 4th this weekend and haven’t yet made up your mind what to drink here are some last minute suggestions.
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.
“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.
With Chinese new year coming up this weekend you may be planning a trip to a Chinese restaurant or planning a Chinese meal at home. But which wine to serve?
The most useful clue to the kind of wine that works with cheesecake is to think of the toppings and flavourings that are used in cheesecake recipes rather than the base.
If culture and ‘terroir’ are a basis for deciding which drinks bestmatch a particular cuisine then beer must have a strong claim to bepaired with Scandinavian food.
Although not the problem they're generally made out to be tomatoes do have an influence on a wine pairing.
Freshly caught grilled sardines are a treat at this time of year but how easy is it fo find a wine that will go with them? Look to the French and Portuguese for inspiration!
With Chinese New Year being celebrated next week the shelves are full of stir-fries so what are the best wine pairings?
Artichokes have the reputation of being a wine-killer but as with most of these diktats the problem is over-played. True, artichokes can make even dry whites taste oddly sweet but that doesn’t account for the different ways in which they are cooked and how they are served.
Judging by my Instagram feed practically everyone is eating avocado toast at least once a day but what do you drink with it?
You may well know what you’re going to drink with the turkey by now but here are some ideas for what to match with your Christmas starters, paired with recipes from some of Britain’s favourite chefs and cookery writers.
It’s still not widely recognised that white wines have the capacity to age, particularly wines that are noted for their freshness and bright acidity so it was fascinating to try a range of older wines from the Centre-Loire yesterday with a range of different cheeses.
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.
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.
I think I’ve found the perfect match for Sancerre - and the perfect Sancerre to drink with them!
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.
Despite the sun it's been unseasonably cold recently so here's a light lunch to enjoy with a couple of friends that has a touch of spring about it but still includes a warming stew.
As I mentioned in my last post our last lunch of the Oregon trip was at Cristom where sales director (no less!) John D'Anna cooked us a great meal. Here's how he did it and - where I have a link to them - the recipes he used. Try it!
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.
While we may not be enjoying quite the temperatures they have in Greece this time of year is still a good excuse for summery food so try this simple meal for 4 that was inspired by a trip to Greece a few years ago.
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.
In London the trend was started by Rowley Leigh and picked up on by Paul Merrony of the Giaconda Dining Room*. The return of hors d’oeuvres, that tasty little selection of small dishes that preceded tapas but which had fallen from favour along with many other elements of French bistro cuisine.