Pairings | Sauce

The best wine pairing for steak

The best wine pairing for steak

Steak is the ideal foil for a good red but is there a best red wine for steak? You could simply say it’s the one you most enjoy but it also depends on the cut and the way you cook it.

Which foods pair best with Merlot?

Which foods pair best with Merlot?

Merlot has one of the widest ranges of styles of any red wine from the light, quaffable merlots of the Veneto to the grandest of Bordeaux. Obviously one type of food doesn’t go with them all but merlot is your flexible friend when it comes to wine pairing, smoother, rounder and less tannic than cabernet sauvignon with which, of course, it is often blended.

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

A re-run of an old post following a visit to Alsace, updating my recommendations on the best pairings for the region's dry and off-dry white wines.

More pairings with Indian food

I spent an interesting evening this week at one of London’s leading Indian restaurants Benares. It was organised jointly by a wine events company called The Wine Nose and SOPEXA, the promotional arm of the French food and wine industry.

 The best food pairings with white burgundy

The best food pairings with white burgundy

White burgundy includes a multitude of wines from generic bourgogne blanc to the grandeur of a Bâtard-Montrachet or Corton-Charlemagne. But it’s the affordable wines that I’m focussing on in this post. What type of food do they pair with best?

Which food to pair with South African chenin blanc

Which food to pair with South African chenin blanc

You might think it odd to pick out South African Chenin rather than Chenin Blanc in general but I do think the wines are distinctive, particularly when it comes to the crisper styles which are much zestier than they tend to be in the Loire

Top wine pairings with scallops

Top wine pairings with scallops

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

5  Reasons to try The Fresh Sauce Co

5 Reasons to try The Fresh Sauce Co

In the first of our 5 reasons food posts Mark Robinson and Victoria Monaghan of The Fresh Sauce Co explain how their chilled sauces can turn basic ingredients into a restaurant quality meal (see my comment below on the one I've tried)

Barbecued Chicken with Yellow Mustard Sauce

Barbecued Chicken with Yellow Mustard Sauce

If you fancy a proper US-style barbecue this weekend try this brilliantly easy recipe from chef Brad McDonald's book Deep South: New Southern Cooking

An alternative Burns Night supper for six

An alternative Burns Night supper for six

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...)

Normandy cider and creamy sauces

Normandy cider and creamy sauces

Our final port of call on our recent French trip was a modest family run restaurant at Bourneville called Risle-Seine, a few minutes off the autoroute between Le Havre and Rouen (and therefore ideally placed for a last minute lunch before catching the ferry). It has no great pretensions but does what it does really well: simple classic country food served with decent, well-priced wines - and cider, we discovered this time.

Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce

Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce

A really robust pasta dish from my book Cooking with Wine - perfect for cold weather eating. The wine gives a richer, more warming flavour than the usual tomato-based sauce.

Doughnuts and hot chocolate sauce

Doughnuts and hot chocolate sauce

If you like churros you're going to LOVE this recipe for doughnuts with chocolate sauce from chef Nieves Barragan's new book Sabor*: Flavours from a Spanish Kitchen.

Warm smoked eel with carrots, marjoram and apple sauce

Smoked eel is not so difficult to find but most retailers sell it vacuum packed*: the problem with this technique, whilst keeping the fish admirably, is that it tends to express the oil from the meat. It is worth drying the fillets on kitchen paper before slicing. Most people don’t peel young baby carrots: I prefer to because I like to see them look smooth and glossy but I see the point of those who don’t.

Essential steak sauce

From my cookbook Steak - now sadly out of print - a homemade alternative to demi-glace, a foolproof steak sauce that you can use on its own or as a basis for another dish such as bavette aux échalotes

A match for pan-fried steak in a creamy mustard sauce

Q Could you make a suggestion for a pan-fried flank steak with a mustard/cream sauce consisting of shallots, white wine, chicken stock, cream, and Dijon mustard?

Hake with cream and anchovy sauce and cava

Hake with cream and anchovy sauce and cava

It’s a pretty safe bet that if you have a wine-based sauce that an accompanying glass of the same type of wine will pair well with it so I was confident of ordering a glass of cava to go with a hake dish cooked with a cream, cava and anchovy sauce last week.

Wild boar with cherry sauce and Karam Corpus Christi

Wild boar with cherry sauce and Karam Corpus Christi

It’s almost impossible to pick out one pairing from last week’s trip to the Lebanon but if I’m forced to it has to be a dish of wild boar with cherry sauce I ate with Habib Karam the owner of Karam winery (and - extraordinarily - the airline pilot who flew us to Beirut)

White fish in cream sauce and Alsace Riesling

White fish in cream sauce and Alsace Riesling

It’s hard to pick out the best match from my trip to Alsace last week but I think it has to go to this classic combination you find in every traditional restaurant.

Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings and tamarind whiskey sour

Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings and tamarind whiskey sour

It might seem perverse to pick out a cocktail match during a week of drinking stellar wines in Oregon wine country but I’m saving my new thoughts on wine pairing with Pinot Noir for a more wide-ranging piece. And this is a great cocktail pairing

Chicken with peanut sauce and Faugères rosé

Chicken with peanut sauce and Faugères rosé

We liked Larcen, the restaurant that was the inspiration for two of the Clever Food Ideas last week, so much that we managed to fit in another visit before we left France. I had the plat du jour (dish of the day) - a brilliant combination of chicken in a rich peanut sauce and a 2007 Faugères rosé from H Bouchard called Abbaye Sylva Plana.

Beef fillet in red wine and soya sauce

Beef fillet in red wine and soya sauce

In our final extract from Cape Wine Braai Masters we feature a recipe intended for Gemsbok from Michael Bucholz, winemaker for the Obikwa range but as antelope are a bit thin on the ground in the UK I've adapted it for beef fillet.

Toulouse sausage and prawn dumplings with sweet chilli sauce and Thierry Puzelat gamay

Toulouse sausage and prawn dumplings with sweet chilli sauce and Thierry Puzelat gamay

A pretty wild combination this week at a lovely wine bar, Magnum, we went to in Toulouse on Saturday night. The owner Jérôme’s wife, who originally came from Réunion, had made Chinese-style dumplings with the local Toulouse sausage and prawns served with a sweet chili sauce. Not the kind of thing I would normally go for but he sold it so persuasively we had to give it a go and it was fantastic.

Pasta with Stilton and onion sauce and a new wave Spanish red

Pasta with Stilton and onion sauce and a new wave Spanish red

When I’m not writing about food and wine matching I’m writing a book - and a blog - about budget eating called The Frugal Cook. So this week’s match is a chance discovery with a scratch supper I knocked up last night (for which you can find the recipe on the blog)

How cream can help a fine wine match

How cream can help a fine wine match

It’s become fashionable these days to vilify butter and cream but if you want your wine to shine bring them into play. There’s almost nothing better than a rich creamy sauce to show off a fine white burgundy and whisking a little butter into a red wine sauce will set your Bordeaux off a treat.

Seared cod with red wine sauce and Premier Cru Santenay

Seared cod with red wine sauce and Premier Cru Santenay

There’s still a bit of resistance to drinking red wine with fish, let alone with a white fish like cod but last week I had the perfect dish to combine with a good red burgundy.

Margaux and Turkish chicken with walnut sauce

Margaux and Turkish chicken with walnut sauce

There’s nothing I love more than a surprise when it comes to food and wine pairing and I would not in a million years have predicted that a pukka Bordeaux would go with this exotic Turkish dish.

Gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce and Barbera d'Asti

Gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce and Barbera d'Asti

A surprisingly good pairing I came across in a local Italian restaurant on Saturday night. The (admirably light) home-made gnocchi were dressed with a fresh tomato sauce with basil which I would have thought would have been overwhelmed by the firm, well-structured 13.5% Barbera the boys had ordered with it - a Ca’ del Matt 2002. (For preference I’d have drunk a dry Italian white such as a Soave.) But it was spot on - even better than it was with my main course of slow roast pork belly.

Salmon in pastry with currants and ginger

Salmon in pastry with currants and ginger

This is one of my favourite recipes ever - made famous by the late, great George Perry-Smith and faithfully reproduced by one of his most talented protegés Stephen Markwick.

Why Pinot Gris hits the spot with spicy food

Why Pinot Gris hits the spot with spicy food

You may think tasting wine sounds arduous but a major wine and food tasting, I assure you, is a much greater assault on the system as I was reminded the other day when Victoria Moore of The Guardian and I ran 14 Pinot Gris through their paces with foods that ranged from smoked eel to chicken tikka masala. Neither of us was able to eat much for several days.

The best food matches for Amarone

The best food matches for Amarone

A recent lunch* and discussion hosted by Masi at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner gave a revealing glimpse of what the best food pairings for amarone might be.

Five-spice smoked tofu nuggets

Five-spice smoked tofu nuggets

Tofu has never been my favourite ingredient to be honest but these brilliant smoked tofu 'nuggets' from my friend Elly Curshen's book Let's Eat are positively addictive.

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.

Yoghurt-baked fish with walnut-herb crumbs

Yoghurt-baked fish with walnut-herb crumbs

This recipe came from a fascinating dinner at which chef Greg Malouf cooked a selection of Iranian dishes from his book Saraban which he wrote with his former wife Lucy with whom he still collaborates. This unusual and simple fish dish in yoghurt particularly appealed to me and I thought it would to you too.

Porc à la moutarde

This typically Burgundian dish of pork with a wine, cream and mustard-based sauce is quick, easy and versatile. You could equally well use it for chicken.

Celeriac, leek, chestnut and cranberry pies

Celeriac, leek, chestnut and cranberry pies

If you're vegetarian - or catering for one - you expect more than the Christmas sides while everyone else tucks into the turkey. This delicious pie from Rachel Demuth of Demuths Cookery School in Bath fits the bill perfectly.

Glazed bacon ribs and Meursault

Glazed bacon ribs and Meursault

What do you pair with a classic Irish dish of bacon and cabbage? Guinness might the traditional answer but when the bacon is celebrated northern Ireland butcher Peter Hannan’s amazing French trimmed dry cured bacon rack, glazed and cooked on the barbecue and served with an outrageously creamy parsley sauce then something a little more extravagant is called for.

Crayfish and Crab Cocktail with Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling

Crayfish and Crab Cocktail with Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling

I have to admit there's an element of nepotism about this pairing which I enjoyed the other day at my son’s award-winning steakhouse Hawksmoor where we were shooting new photography for the site (an exciting development about which more news shortly!)

Cold sesame noodles and weissbier

Cold sesame noodles and weissbier

Thanks to my friend Signe Johansen of Scandilicious I finally got to Koya in Frith Street the other day - London’s food bloggers most popular noodle haunt and the winner of last year’s Observer Food Monthly’s Best Cheap Eats award.

Wine and pepper

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.

Salt cod with ciambotta di peperoni and 2004 Argentiera, Bolgheri Superiore

Salt cod with ciambotta di peperoni and 2004 Argentiera, Bolgheri Superiore

Another interesting insight on pairing red wine and fish in Tuscany this week. We were served lightly salted cod with a rich tomato and pepper stew called ciambotta at Tenuta Argentiera which proved a perfect match for the mature 2004 vintage.

Pulled pork roll and a smoked Belgian-style pale ale

Pulled pork roll and a smoked Belgian-style pale ale

As those of you who follow our Facebook page may have spotted I was in France last week so you might expect a pairing with a wine from Languedoc. But no: the outstanding match, as with the previous week, was with a beer - and a rather unusual one at that . . .

Chablis and Jambon à la Chablisienne

Chablis and Jambon à la Chablisienne

I’m in Chablis for a couple of days this week and last night enjoyed one of the classic local pairings: a basic Chablis and a dish of Jambon à la Chablisienne - thick slices of ham in a cream, tomato and white wine sauce. This version also had a touch of tarragon which cut the richness of the sauce. It contained all the elements that kicks a young Chablis into touch - saltiness (of the ham), acidity (the tomato) and richness (the cream), a perfect counterfoil to Chablis’ own crispness.

Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with smashed cucumber

Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with smashed cucumber

A simple but spectacular Japanese-style dish from Diana Henry's marvellous new book A Change of Appetite which I've also reviewed on the site here.

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?

Pike and crayfish pithivier with white burgundy

Pike and crayfish pithivier with white burgundy

If you’re looking for a match for a serious white burgundy you couldn’t do better than this elaborate pike and crayfish pie or tourte de brochet, bisque écrevisse as they billed it at the Château de Montreuil last week.

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!)

Lamb with coriander and the Garage Wine Company's Cabernet/Carignan

Lamb with coriander and the Garage Wine Company's Cabernet/Carignan

This is possibly the most off-the-wall pairing I encountered on my recent Chilean trip and for that reason the most exciting - both on account of the food and the wine.

Junmai sake with cheung fun, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms

Junmai sake with cheung fun, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms

It’s partly because not enough restaurants offer the option but I don’t drink sake often enough in Asian restaurants. (And yes, I know Asian is an imprecise term but that’s how many describe the food they offer)

Citrus fizz and Mexican food

Citrus fizz and Mexican food

If you’re not drinking for whatever reason - because you’re driving, pregnant or just taking a break - it’s sometimes difficult to find something that makes a good match for what you’re eating. Soft drinks can be sweet and sugary. Water sometimes too plain.

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.

 Pulled pork and pinot

Pulled pork and pinot

The problem about discovering your match of the week at someone’s else's house is that you can’t really take a photo of the food if you don’t know them that well.

 Hake with pork dumplings and Côtes du Rhône

Hake with pork dumplings and Côtes du Rhône

I suspect most of you know that you can drink red wine with fish these days but you may well stick to lighter reds like pinot noir. But this week’s match of the week proves you can drink a more full-bodied red if the food is robust enough.

Cauliflower popcorn and a Seedlip and pineapple cocktail

Cauliflower popcorn and a Seedlip and pineapple cocktail

Most pairings focus on alcoholic drinks but it’s equally intriguing to see how a similar synergy can be achieved with an alcohol-free one.

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