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Pairings

Pairings | Champagne & sparkling

Fizzwatch 2013 (UPDATED): my pick of the best offers on champagne and sparkling wine

Fizzwatch 2013 (UPDATED): my pick of the best offers on champagne and sparkling wine

Keeping up with champagne and sparkling wine promotions is almost impossible in the run-up to Christmas so for the next 2 weeks I’ll be attempting to share with you who’s offering what in the way of discounts.

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.

Champagne Agrapart grand cru blanc de blancs ‘Terroirs’ extra brut

Champagne Agrapart grand cru blanc de blancs ‘Terroirs’ extra brut

We’ve got so used to thinking of champagne in terms of big brand names it’s easy to forget that it’s a subtle and complex wine, a fact of which I was reminded by a small tasting of Agrapart champagnes put on by the Bristol-based importer Vine Trail this week.

Why champagne offers are never as good as they seem

Why champagne offers are never as good as they seem

This morning I posted a round-up of what I think are the best champagne and sparkling wine offers at the moment but I don’t want you to get overly excited.

10 excuses to drink champagne this Christmas and New Year holiday

10 excuses to drink champagne this Christmas and New Year holiday

Given the amount of champagne that’s on special offer at the moment you’d think people would drink nothing else but most I suspect will just have a celebratory glass before Christmas lunch or to see in the new year.

Why growers' champagne is centre stage at Bubbledogs

Why growers' champagne is centre stage at Bubbledogs

The most hyped restaurant launch this year, Bubbledogs, which opened this week in London’s Fitzrovia has naturally focussed on the hot dogs but of equal significance, I reckon, are the ‘bubbles’ or champagnes that they serve.

Pairing Cheese and Champagne

Pairing Cheese and Champagne

Cheese and champagne might not sound like natural bedfellows but if you think about the pairing for a moment you immediately realise they have quite a thing going. Many canapés - like gougères and cheese straws - are made with cheese for example and go wonderfully well with champagne but what about individual cheeses?

Twitmatching #1 An A-Z of Twitter's best Champagne pairings!

Twitmatching #1 An A-Z of Twitter's best Champagne pairings!

I lobbed a question about unusual Champagne pairings into the Twittersphere yesterday and got the most amazing response. It prompted the idea of having a monthly Twitter matching session - Twitmatching - the results of which I’ll post on this site.

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 ...)

Sponsored feature: 3 top wine pairings with truffled mac'n'cheese

Sponsored feature: 3 top wine pairings with truffled mac'n'cheese

This has been one of the most popular food and wine pairings our team at Jascots has put together to date. Mac & cheese has taken the restaurant scene by storm and this month we cooked up a delectable version with three cheeses and a drizzling of truffle oil.

Christmas fizz under £15 (updated)

Christmas fizz under £15 (updated)

If you're looking for a sparkling wine or champagne for a party here's my pick of what's available under £15 in ascending order of price. I've deliberately picked that figure rather than £10 as I haven't found a champagne I really rate under the £10 mark.

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

Pairing champagne and summer food

Pairing champagne and summer food

How can champagne be used to create a summer tasting menu? Seafood is an obvious candidate but as food and wine writer Lucy Bridgers found at a Billecart-Salmon event at the Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar in London last year you need to choose your flavours carefully.

Endive, Stilton and walnut salad with blanc de blancs champagne

Endive, Stilton and walnut salad with blanc de blancs champagne

Champagne two weeks running? I know - it is a bit indulgent but I just couldn’t ignore last night’s extraordinary dinner at the Savoy to celebrate the trophy winners and launch of the first Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. Besides it is our 400th Match of the Week - equally something to celebrate.

Is there a scientific basis for wine and food pairing?

Is there a scientific basis for wine and food pairing?

I went to a really interesting seminar last week on matching champagne with food. It was based on the chemical compounds flavourist Danny Hodrien of F & F projects had identified in Mumm champagnes using gas chromatography, solid phase micro-extraction and mass spectrometry (No, I don’t know what they are either). Based on those findings Iain Graham, the executive chef at the Caprice had devised a range of canapes that incorporated the flavours rather than seeking to complement them

Pairing rosé champagne and dim sum

Pairing rosé champagne and dim sum

Is rosé champagne a good match with dim sum? Our roving correspondent Lucy Bridgers retains admirable control of her critical faculties while being plied with successive vintages of Bollinger's Grande Année . . .

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 . . .

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.

Wagyu beef sliders and Lanson Extra Age champagne

Wagyu beef sliders and Lanson Extra Age champagne

Steak isn’t the first ingredient you might think of pairing with champagne but if it’s ground wagyu beef, served in a bun with a quality glass of fizz in a glitzy Park Lane restaurant you might just have to force yourself.

Sparkling wine and spicy snacks

Sparkling wine and spicy snacks

The idea of drinking sparkling wine with Indian street food might seem crazy but it’s a really good pairing as I was reminded last night when I dined at Masala Zone just off Carnaby Street with Warren Edwardes, the CEO of a company called Wine for Spice.

Fried sprats and grower champagne

Fried sprats and grower champagne

A reminder this week of just what a perfect match champagne and fried fish is - with a twist. The fish was one of the cheapest of catches, the humble sprat.

Crab paté and (bargain) champagne

Crab paté and (bargain) champagne

One of the products I regularly have in the fridge is Tesco’s Orkney Crab paté, not least because it’s so low in calories (85 calories per 38g serving) it’s even compatible with the 5:2 diet*.

Scrambled eggs and sparkling wine

Scrambled eggs and sparkling wine

If your New Year breakfast today includes eggs, especially brunch-type dishes such as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or eggs benedict there’s no better partner than Champagne or other dry sparkling wine.

Three things I’ve learnt this weekend

Three things I’ve learnt this weekend

This weekend I’ve been away at Mawgan Porth in north Cornwall attending a champagne dinner (yes, tough) and chilling out by a beautiful beach. Actually the best thing has been just having 24 hours to draw breath in the hectic run-up to Christmas. And three things have particularly struck me:

Sausage rolls and champagne

Sausage rolls and champagne

The idea of drinking champagne with fast food might seem outrageous but you have to believe me it works!

Coconova Sparkling Brut

Coconova Sparkling Brut

In general I use the drink of the week slot to feature a wine - or other drink - that’s really impressed me but occasionally it’s all about the right wine for the moment.

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!)

Hot dogs and champagne

Hot dogs and champagne

One of the under-appreciated qualities of champagne is how well it goes with fast food. Like fish and chips, fried chicken, popcorn and . . . er . . . hot dogs. Or so the clever founders of Bubbledogs discovered and found themselves with a smash hit on their hands.

English sparkling wine and fresh crab sandwiches

English sparkling wine and fresh crab sandwiches

Looking out of the window this wet bank holiday morning it’s hard to credit that we produce wine successfully in this country but we most certainly do. Especially sparkling wine which many pundits reckon is beginning to rival Champagne in quality.

Dim sum and Champagne

Dim sum and Champagne

A very Western approach to Chinese food, admittedly, but if you're celebrating Chinese New Year today with a dim sum lunch you'll find that Champagne - or other sparkling wine - makes a perfect pairing.

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.

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.

Lobster macaroni cheese and Ruinart champagne

Lobster macaroni cheese and Ruinart champagne

When I flicked through the pictures I’d taken of the wines I’d drunk over Christmas and the New Year I realised there was a LOT of champagne. Partly because I’d been given or shared some rather nice bottles but equally because champagne goes with practically everything from oysters to shepherds pie (as the novelist Jeffrey Archer famously established).

Matching wine and single origin chocolate

Matching wine and single origin chocolate

One of the innovations at the Marks & Spencer wine tasting this week was a chocolate and wine tasting based on a Single Origin Tasting Box designed to help consumers explore chocolate pairings with different wines.

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?

The best wine pairings for eggs benedict

The best wine pairings for eggs benedict

The ideal wine choice for eggs benedict - that unctuous dish of poached eggs and ham topped with buttery hollandaise sauce - is likely to be dictacted as much by when you eat it as the dish itself.

Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée Brut 2009

Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée Brut 2009

The problem with practically every food and drink having its own day or week now is that it’s all too easy to miss one. Which is how I come to be doing my bit for English Wine Week with less than 48 hours to go before it finishes tomorrow.

Sea urchins, beurre blanc and Ruinart Champagne

Sea urchins, beurre blanc and Ruinart Champagne

When luxury foods are discussed there's always an omission. An ingredient that I personally think is one of the most delicious in the world - sea urchins.

How to throw a hot dog party

How to throw a hot dog party

Given the runaway success of Big Apple Hot Dogs and Bubbledogs - London’s smash hit champagne and hot dog restaurant, it can only be a matter of time before you can pick up a dog on your local high street. But in the meantime you can throw your own hot dog party in if you follow these tips from my book Sausage and Mash

Soft cheese and onion spread and a natural sparkling Vouvray

Soft cheese and onion spread and a natural sparkling Vouvray

This week’s pairing is a short (and I imagine welcome) respite from Christmas fare - a wine we enjoyed with a number of small dishes yesterday lunchtime at a natural wine bar, Toast in East Dulwich.

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 . . .

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ....

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.

Lobster with lichen and Torello Special Edition Cava

Lobster with lichen and Torello Special Edition Cava

I went to the most extraordinary wine pairing dinner last week at Elena Arzak’s Ametsa in London, sponsored by the Consejo Regulador for Cava

Fruit kebabs and Moët Ice Imperial

Fruit kebabs and Moët Ice Imperial

A combination I came across at the launch of Moët’s new Ice Imperial Champagne last week - a Champagne that’s designed to be served over ice (yes, that’s right - with the ice actually in it)

Wine of the week: Graham Beck brut rosé

Wine of the week: Graham Beck brut rosé

I know a lot of you are going to be looking for a well-priced sparkling wine for Mother's Day this weekend and this is the perfect bottle

Domaine Pfister Cremant d’Alsace

Domaine Pfister Cremant d’Alsace

We get so used to thinking of champagne as the ultimate fizz that it’s easy to overlook the many excellent sparkling wines that are made in other areas.

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.

Which wines and beers to pair with asparagus

Which wines and beers to pair with asparagus

This month I asked my fellow Tweeters to tackle the subject of wine with asparagus - supposed to be a tricky combination, but as @cuvee_corner put it “Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the difficulty.” (It isn't just you. There are plenty of options!)

Which wine to drink with a galette des rois?

Which wine to drink with a galette des rois?

Although Christmas might feel firmly over many people will still be celebrating Twelfth Night this week. In France they mark the occasion with a Galette des Rois - a round cake filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with a golden paper crown.

What to eat with your favourite wines this Christmas

What to eat with your favourite wines this Christmas

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.

Apricot tart and Louis Roederer Carte Blanche

Apricot tart and Louis Roederer Carte Blanche

After two days in the Jura and 24 hours in Champagne it was harder than usual to come up with just one match this week* but I’m going for this combination of apricot tart and Louis Roederer’s demi-sec champagne Carte Blanche because it’s one you can reasonably easily replicate at home.

Wine of the week: BX Crémant de Bordeaux

Wine of the week: BX Crémant de Bordeaux

As I've pointed out on more than one occasion pink champers is pretty pricey so if you’re looking for something a little more affordable this sparkling Bordeaux rosé I’ve just discovered in Aldi’s Spring Wine Festival should hit the spot

Le Chiassaie 2013 vino spumante

Le Chiassaie 2013 vino spumante

You have to feel sympathy for Italian sparkling wine producers who don’t happen to make prosecco (except possibly those from Franciacorta who manage to charge much the same as champagne).

Wine of the week: El Bombero Gran Reserva 2009 Carinena

Wine of the week: El Bombero Gran Reserva 2009 Carinena

If I saw this wine on a supermarket shelf I wouldn’t pick it up. There’s the name for a start, which sounds like something a marketing department has invented

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.

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.

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.

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.

What to drink with peashoots?

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?

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 . . .

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.

Matching wine and tapas

Matching wine and tapas

Lucy Bridgers selflessly devotes herself to finding the perfect pairing for tapas on a tapas crawl through some of London's leading tapas bars

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 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.

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).

Top wines to drink with turkey

Top wines to drink with turkey

If you were eating it entirely on its own roast turkey would be one of the easiest ingredients in the world to match. You could drink your favourite white, red, ros or even sparkling wine with it and it would work fine.

The 5 best wine (and best cocktail) pairings for garlic cheesy bread

The 5 best wine (and best cocktail) pairings for garlic cheesy bread

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!

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?

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.

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:

4 good wines to pair with fish pie

4 good wines to pair with fish pie

Whether it's topped with mashed potato or pastry fish pie is a relatively straightforward dish to match but some wines work better than others.

A surprisingly good pairing for air-dried ham

A surprisingly good pairing for air-dried ham

Think of an air-dried ham such as serrano and you probably think of tapas and therefore fino or manzanilla sherry. But I’ve experienced two recent wine matches which opened my eyes to another option that even those on a diet could enjoy!

Steak tartare and Beaujolais

Steak tartare and Beaujolais

This was a wine pairing I hadn’t thought of putting together before but once experienced last week at Racine it seemed supremely logical.

Seville orange soufflé and Primo Franco prosecco

Seville orange soufflé and Primo Franco prosecco

You may be used to drinking prosecco as an aperitif, maybe even with a nibble of parma ham or some other cichetti but last week was the first time I’ve been to a dinner where prosecco featured right throughout the meal.

Dom Pérignon rosé 2002 and sweet shrimp

Dom Pérignon rosé 2002 and sweet shrimp

I was in two minds about making this my match of the week because I’m not sure that the new DP vintage rosé - like many great wines - doesn’t taste better on its own.

What to drink with Heston’s Diamond Jubilee picnic

What to drink with Heston’s Diamond Jubilee picnic

Heston Blumenthal’s Jubilee picnic hamper was unveiled yesterday - to be served at Buckingham Palace before an open-air concert on June 4th. The picnic is being funded by Waitrose who must be pleased as punch to have the Palace’s endorsement in this video. The guests will also apparently be given vouchers for a glass of Moët or a bottle of Cobra beer (the other sponsors of the event).

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.

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Natural Brut 2013

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Natural Brut 2013

I don’t often pick a wine you can’t buy in the UK for my wine of the week but as it’s Canada Day I’m making an exception. (Plus there are regular Canadian visitors to the site who may be able to get their hands on it. Lucky them!)

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.

Wines to match wild salmon

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:

The ultimate strawberry tartlets

The ultimate strawberry tartlets

Before home-grown strawberries disappear totally from the shops, a re-run of what I reckon is the ultimate strawberry tart recipe from Orlando Murrin's irresistible book, A Table in the Tarn and which he used to serve at his French guest house Le Manoir de Raynaudes.

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.

Chocolate violet eclairs

Chocolate violet eclairs

The perfect recipe for Mother's Day this Sunday from Sybil Kapoor's lovely Simply Baking book for the National Trust. In fact you might giver her a copy of that as well . . .

The tough task of pairing white truffles

The tough task of pairing white truffles

Frankly if you can afford white truffles (currently selling at about 2500 euros per kilo) you probably already have a substantial cellar to pick from but just so you don’t in any way detract from the pleasure of eating your investment let me tell you what the Piedmontese do.

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.

Truffled egg toast and Bianco di Custoza

Truffled egg toast and Bianco di Custoza

I was sure I was going to be featuring the splendidly retro Brown Windsor Soup and Madeira as my match of the week this week - a combination suggested by Ben Austin of number1wino for the underground supper club I went to on Friday - but sadly I left the Madeira at home by mistake. (Ben, who went the following night, said it was a treat.)

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.

Roast turbot with wild mushrooms and white Minervois

Roast turbot with wild mushrooms and white Minervois

I spent last week in the Languedoc where we visit quite regularly so there weren’t many new food and wine discoveries to be made but I think the most thought-provoking match was a main course dish of roast turbot with girolles and a bottle of Château Cabezac 'Alice' 2008 from the Minervois I had at a restaurant in Agde called Le Bistrot d’Hervé.

Prosecco and panettone

Prosecco and panettone

The soft creamy fizz of Italy's famous sparkling wine Prosecco makes it a marvellous match for Italian panettone which is not too rich or too sweet to overwhelm it. I discovered the combination a couple of years ago when I tried the celebratory Easter dove-shaped Colomba Pasquale which is topped with crystallised sugar with a glass of Bisol’s elegant Cartizze Prosecco de Valdobbiadene which sells in the UK for roughly 16 a bottle (check out wine-searcher.com for stockists)

Prosecco and jelly

Prosecco and jelly

Is there a good match for jelly and ice-cream? A dessert wine can seem too heavy - and ice cream can strip out its sweetness - but prosecco is perfect, as I discovered at the weekend.

Fillet of beef with 2009 Pio Cesare Barolo

Fillet of beef with 2009 Pio Cesare Barolo

Beef and red wine is a blindingly obvious match but it gets more interesting once you think about the cut and the way that it's cooked.

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.

Chocolate terrine with Brachetto d'Acqui 2007

Chocolate terrine with Brachetto d'Acqui 2007

It’s a mystery to me why we need a Chocolate Week. Surely no-one (except aberrants like myself who have an inexplicable preference for potatoes) needs encouraging to eat chocolate. But there we have it and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy your favourite food in the country’s classiest chocolate shops over the next few days.

“A few glasses of wine and lots of rubbish food”

“A few glasses of wine and lots of rubbish food”

What to recommend as my match of the week in this astonishing week for British sport, and especially athletics? Well, what else but Jessica Ennis' post-event treat of “a few glasses of wine and lots of rubbish food”!

Wine of the week: Mas Sardana Cava Brut Nature

Wine of the week: Mas Sardana Cava Brut Nature

I seem to be spending a great deal of time at the moment trying to persuade my readers to drink cava which, pound for pound, is at least equal to if not better value than prosecco.

Cordoniu limited edition spring cava

Cordoniu limited edition spring cava

This recommendation might surprise you - I wouldn’t normally go for commercially produced cavas especially ones targetting women buying wine for their mums on Mother's Day but it’s an altogether successful bottling.

Strawberry tiramisu

This is a slight adaptation of a fantastic recipe from Italian cookery writer Valentina Harris which I first tasted on one of her cookery courses in Tuscany and included in my book Food, Wine and Friends.

Oysters and oyster stout

Oysters and oyster stout

I was at the opening of TV chef Mitch Tonks' new fish restaurant in Bristol last week, Rockfish Grill. Normally they serve you bubbly on these occasions and there was some - an appealing Prosecco - but what caught my eye was an oyster stout that Mitch and a mate who owns the Albert Inn at Bridgetown, near Totnes had brewed up between them.

Fritto misto + vino bianco

Fritto misto + vino bianco

One of the real treats of our trip to Venice is fritto misto which used to refer to the assorted small fish that were too small to be sold from the fishermens’ catch but nowadays takes all manner of shapes and forms including vegetables and polenta (usually to keep the price down).

Crespelle with wild asparagus and fonduta and extra dry prosecco

Crespelle with wild asparagus and fonduta and extra dry prosecco

I’ve spent the last 3 days in the Veneto at a prosecco festival called Vino in Villa (yup, alright for some, but if it’s any consolation the weather hasn’t been as good as it has in the UK)

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