Top pairings | What food to match with red Bordeaux

Top pairings

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?

Red Bordeaux is generally blended from cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot with an occasional dash of malbec or petit verdot. Merlot usually predominates these days even on the so-called ‘left bank’ resulting in softer, fruitier, less tannic wines than would have been the case 20 years ago.

As I pointed out in my Guardian column this week inexpensive Bordeaux is actually quite light and easy drinking while some more modern styles of Saint-Emilion, say, are quite full-bodied. So it depends on the price bracket you’re talking about.

Inexpensive ‘everyday drinking’ red Bordeaux - what was once referred to as a ‘lunchtime claret’

Charcuterie, especially paté and terrines. Cold roast beef. Cold game pies. Simple grilled meat like a steak frites or sausage with chips, haricot beans or lentils. Shepherd’s pie and its French equivalent hachis parmentier*. Goat and sheep cheeses, mild brie and camembert

Classic ‘left bank’ cabernet-dominated Bordeaux such as Margaux - the sort you might take to a dinner party

Grilled and roast lamb with garlic and rosemary. Roast beef, veal and venison. Steak pies. Beef daubes, ox cheek and other stews cooked in red wine. Hard British territorial cheeses such as Cheshire and red Leicester and French Mimolette. Bacon and eggs (oddly) - see this match of the week.

Riper, full-bodied Merlot-dominated bordeaux

Steak, especially richer steak dishes such as tournedos rossini. Posh burgers. Japanese-style steak dishes. Roast duck - even Chinese-style crispy duck pancakes. Christmas turkey. Macaroni cheese and macaronnade (a pasta bake with meat). Cheddar

Older vintages of Bordeaux where the primary fruit has faded

Similar to my recommendations for 'classic' Bordeaux above. Just go easy on the gravy or jus and on the accompanying vegetables. Lighter, less intense stews such as blanquette de veau. Also good with game birds such as duck, partridge and pheasant and with dishes that include mushrooms and truffles. Hard sheep cheeses

First and second growths if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on them

Simply cooked roast and grilled meat, especially lamb. Hot game pies and pithiviers. Jugged hare. Grouse. Aged parmesan.

Good general accompaniments for red bordeaux are rich potato purées (mash) and gratin dauphinoise, mushrooms and truffles and green beans with garlic.

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