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.
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.
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.
Last week I was given a couple of slices of gorgeous game terrine by Stephen Markwick of Culinaria with whom I’ve been writing a book (of which more news soon). We had it for lunch and the only wine I had open wasn’t up to the intensity of the spicing (which was dominated by allspice) and the accompanying damson chutney.
A classic match for this time of year but no less enjoyable for that.
The Spanish are more adventurous than us when it comes to matching sherry and food. I remember drinking a dry oloroso with roast partridge a few years back in Jerez. But what else could you pair with it?
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?
Even if not well-hung, as it rarely is these days, pheasant has a stronger flavour than other feathered game such as partridge or duck. And older, tougher birds are often braised or pot-roasted which calls for a more robust wine match still.
The most successful wine pairing from a tasting I hosted on behalf of Touraine wines the other day was not the expected sauvignon and goats cheese or even fish and chips but a rich gamey dish of venison with a robust Cot, the name by which Malbec is known in the Loire.
Rioja - and by that I mean red rioja - is one of the UK's best-loved wines and one of the easiest ones to match with food too.
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.
The food of Piedmont in north-west Italy is as highly regarded as its wines so it makes sense to make the local dishes your first choice if you’re looking for a match for a bottle of Barolo or Barbaresco.
If you’d asked me a week ago whether I thought it was a good idea to cook grouse in a tandoor oven and then to serve it with a full-bodied red I’d have said no, and no. Which shows how you can continually be surprised by this food and wine pairing lark.
A robust, winey stew from Rebecca Seal's mouthwatering new book, The Islands of Greece which immediately makes you want to jump on a plane and fly off there. Top tip about cooking rabbit too.
I always like to respond promptly if someone draws attention to a wine match that’s not available on the site so thanks, Nigel B of Hong Kong for pointing out there was nothing on Brunello di Montalcino.
There’s a lot of talk about how the wines of a region tend to match its food but that seems truer of Tuscany than almost anywhere else.
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.
As you can imagine I’ve been drinking a fair amount of pinot noir in New Zealand this week (it’s a hard life). In general Kiwis pair it with lamb for obvious reasons but the most striking match I came across was with a venison tartare at the North Canterbury forage, a fabulous event I’ll be writing more about in due course
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.
Signe Johansen recently competed in - and won - a food bloggers challenge to come up with the perfect dish for a Casillero del Diablo Chilean Cabernet. Here’s how she went about it. (You can find the recipe for the winning dish, Pigeon breast and chocolate mole with redcurrants and parmesan mash here.)
Having spent five days in Germany this week I’ve been thinking a lot about riesling and food. And my conclusion is that the heavy focus on Chinese, Thai and Indian food may be doing German wine a disservice
An elegant main course recipe* from one of my favourite food writers Sue Lawrence's A Cook’s Tour of Scotland that would be a great option for a haggis-free Burns' Night supper.
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.
Scandinavian food is becoming increasingly popular but what type of wine should you drink with it? Lucy Bridgers reports on how German wine fares.
I’ve been a bit of a sceptic in the past about pairing food with whisky. Not that there aren’t some great combinations but I find it hard to sustain for more than one dish.
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.
This week’s match is a blast from the past - a visit to the historic Rules restaurant in London’s Covent Garden where we tucked into the kind of food you’d have eaten 50 years ago - if not 100.
I was lucky enough to dine in a Cambridge college, Peterhouse, last week and even more fortunate to drink a 1982 Chateau Talbot.
It was a tough call coming up with a single wine pairing last week - there were so many good ones but I’m going for this combination because it’s such a cool serving suggestion.
This isn’t the first time I’ve singled out pinot noir as a good pairing for rabbit (see here for one back in 2011) but it’s good to be reminded what an adaptable wine a relatively modest red burgundy can be.
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).
Matching a rich dish like pigeon with wine is quite challenging, especially if you serve it with an intense jus like this one so should you go for something equally rich or a refreshing contrast?
We think of gin even less than whisky as a pairing for food but with the incredible popularity of gin these days - and the need for the many new entrants to the field to create a distinctive image for their brand that could be about to change.
I subjected myself to a somewhat daunting experience last Thursday trying to persuade a largely sceptical audience of journalists and bloggers of the virtues of natural wine. I think/hope I made some modest headway, helped by the fantastic feast laid on by chef Stevie Parle and his team at Dock Kitchen.
One of the most interesting things I noticed on my trip to Germany last week was how Germans drink riesling with red meat. I wouldn’t have thought it would work but was utterly convinced by this pairing of super-tender rare venison with an exotic spätlese (late picked) riesling.
I went to a very posh lunch at Fortnum & Mason last week (about which more to follow) which has to be the most festive place in London. If you’re in the vicinity this week make sure you check out their Christmas decorations department on the first floor. And don't miss the spectacularly expensive crackers! (I was told the £1000 boxes had already sold out.)
My match of the week is not in fact my match of the week which was some sublime sashimi and koshu at the Japanese embassy but as that pairing has featured before I’m going for my second best this week*.
Most of this past week has been spent in Paris where almost every wine match is a good one. There’s been a lot of Beaujolais - and other Gamay - drinking and a fair amount of crisp dry whites such as Aligoté - but the pairing I’m going to pick is a Syrah I didn’t know with a stonking great plateful of braised rabbit at the legendary Baratin.
Another week of brilliant pairings, another tough decision to make but I’m going for this combination at Delaire restaurant in Stellenbosch because it was such a great dish.
Rooting round the cellar (well, cupboard under the stairs) in France last week I stumbled across a bottle of 2003 Bonnes-Mares, a Grand Cru burgundy from Jean-Luc Aegerter I’d been sent as a sample about eight years ago and furtively stashed away until it was ready to drink.
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
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...)
How on earth can I pick a single wine of the week from my two week trip to New Zealand? The answer is I can’t so I’m chickening out and going for a beer
It’s always a treat to drink great old wines, especially when they’re on top form like this fabulous syrah from Californian producer Ojai in the Santa Maria valley.
This full-flavoured pinot noir from Worcestershire took me totally by surprise this week. I would never have guessed it was from the UK.
Everyone I know who’s into food has a soft spot for St John. True, it has/has had its ups and downs but It’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking it was when it opened 19 years ago. And how absolutely right its values still are in terms of serving great ingredients simply,