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Food villains - 9 awkward customers that could kill your wine
This weekend I’ve been down at my favourite food festival in Dartmouth where I’ve been giving a number of wine talks. One of them was a forum on food and wine matching with wine writer and TV presenter Susy Atkins and former sommelier and wine supplier Tim McLoughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice.
We’d discussed the talk beforehand and came up with 9 foods that in our experience could be tricky matches for wine and suggested some wines to pair with them. Here’s how they worked:
Eggs - it’s generally runny yolks that are the problem but scrambled egg can be tricky too. The solution - one we all agreed on - is a dry sparkling wine. Champagne if you feel like splashing out - Cava or a crémant if you don’t. (Prosecco is a touch sweet in my opinion)
Grillled artichokes in oil - not as bad as boiled artichokes, especially with a vinaigrette but still a bit of a villain. We tried an inexpensive zesty Chilean sauvignon blanc which I thought worked rather well and an aromatic Traminer from north-east Italy I thought was delicious but was less convinced by as a match.
Avocado - we were going to feature asparagus but couldn’t get our hands on any went for a stightly less tricky customer, avocado, again with the sauvignon and traminer. Most preferred the latter but I found it too perfumed for avocado. A drier Italian white like a pinot grigio or Verdicchio or - if it’s served as a guacamole - a margarita for me.
Smoked kipper - Does anyone drink wine with kippers? Normally I’d go for a cup of tea but Susy’s suggestion of a fino sherry was spot on.
Pickled anchovies - the hardest of the ingredients, I thought. Again quite a few liked the traminer but I’d have gone for a drier white like a Muscadet or Vinho Verde. Or, frankly much better, a well chilled pilsner.
Marinated chicken with chilli sauce from the South Devon farm - not as tricky as it might have been. The marinade was quite mild and there was no accompanying dip. I really liked it with a new aromatic medium-sweet English Schönburger called Mena Hweg from Devon producer Knightor which is only 7.5%. Even better with a Vietnamese or Thai-style chicken salad.
Bucklers cheddar - we were originally going to serve one of those super-stinky cheeses like Stinking Bishop but couldn’t find one so went for this strong cheddar and a blue (below) instead. Surprisingly it went rather well with an Alsace gewurztraminer - my normal preference would have been for an oak-aged chardonnay or a strong ale. (Bordeaux also works well but with slightly milder more mellow cheddars.)
Devon Blue - Blue cheeses generally work best with sweet wines. This wasn’t as powerfully veined as some blues but quite punchy and salty, so also worked well with the gewurztraminer. Monbazillac would have been another good pairing
Lindt Mint chocolate - this, we thought, would be the real killer but actually worked really well with Tim’s suggestion of a recioto, a delicious sweet version of Valpolicella. The other options we tried, PX sherry and dark rum, knocked out the mint flavour of the chocolate which some might regard as a positive but if you're into mint chocolate wouldn't be so good.
You may also find this earlier post interesting The 10 trickiest foods to match with wine
Many thanks to Browns Hotel who did a grand job of preparing the foods in an easy ‘one bite’ format for people to taste and to William Atkins for serving them so charmingly.
Photo © Deborah Benbrook - Fotolia.com
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