Pairings | B
Crab is one of the most delicious kinds of shellfish and the perfect foil for a crisp white wine. But there are other crab dishes that pair better with a fuller-bodied white or even a red.
If you're looking for food pairings for chardonnay, you're in luck! Whatever the style it's a fantastic food wine.
Talking about wine matches for risotto is a bit like talking about wine with pasta - it’s depends on the other ingredients you use, not the rice.
If you’re looking for the ideal food pairing for cabernet sauvignon you don’t have to look very far. Almost any red meat, especially served rare, is going to do the trick.
Just as pasta pairings are all about the sauce, ravioli are all about the filling so you need to take account of what that’s based on and any accompanying sauce. Seafood is obviously going to need a different style of wine from a meaty filling like ox cheek
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.
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.
Asking which wine to pair with salad is a bit like asking about what wine to match with meat or fish. There's no single answer. It depends on the vegetables you use, what other ingredients it contains and what type of dressing you use.
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.
Viognier (pronounced vee-on-yee-ay) is a rich, exotically fruity white wine, sometimes achieving quite high levels of alcohol so what are the ideal foods to pair with it?
It’s true that lamb is one of the most wine-friendly of meats, as at home with red Bordeaux and Rioja as it is with the fruitier wines of the new world. But if you’re looking for a spot-on wine pairing it’s worth thinking just how - and for how long - you’re going to cook it.
Malbec has become so popular it may have become one of your favourite red wines but what are the best kind of dishes to pair with it?
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
Today is International Grenache Day, a celebration of a grape which is (often anonymously) responsible for some of the most generous and appealing reds in the wine world.
Now that winter is firmly upon us it's time to head for the kitchen and knock up a rich beef stew or casserole and leave it simmering for hours.
Sauvignon blanc is many people's favourite wine but what type of food pairs with it best?
Natasha Hughes re-orders her hit list of wine matches for pinot following her visit to the International Pinot Noir Celebration.
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.
It might surprise you to hear it - and maybe you’ve never tried it - but a serious red wine is a really good match for a burger. Not a Maccy D, maybe but a big lush gourmet burger. And why not?
You may not be familiar with Carmenère but it's a delicious red at this chilly time of year.
Although there are obviously differences between the two types of beer, dark stouts and porters tend to pair with similar types of food. Here are my top matches ...
Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.
Whenever anyone talks about foods that are difficult to match with wine, asparagus always comes up but I reckon the problem is overstated.
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.
Cheese and wine is a notorious minefield but is it any easier when the cheese is cooked? See my suggestions to match Mark Hix's delicious recipes in the Independent today:
US-based wine writer and educator David Furer reports on an epic tasting in the homeland of American barbeque, Austin, Texas pairing a selection of international and home-grown reds with different meats.
It’s tough to say what the best wine matches for lamb are - it’s served so many different ways and there are so many wines (mainly red) that work but here are my five favourites.
Roast beef has the virtue of being one of the easiest dishes to match with wine. You can really drink any medium- to full-bodied red you enjoy. There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, which might affect the style of wine you choose.
Provence rosé has a particular character. It’s much crisper and drier than most rosés on the market, more like a white wine than a rosé - though within this style there are variations between the lighter, less expensive wines or ‘vins de soif’ and the more structured ones, which the local refer to as ‘vins de gastronomie’.
Meatballs are essentially comfort food so you don’t want to drink anything too fancy with them but you do need something equally delicious - usually red in my book
Vermentino is incredibly versatile - a brilliant wine pairing for anything fishy, herby or citrussy and a great wine for spring and summer drinking.
Cabernet franc can be the most food-friendly of wines, as good with fish and veggies as it is with meat but as I pointed out in a recent Guardian column it comes in several styles.
Last night we opened a bottle of 2005 Nugan Estate McLaren Parish Vineyard Shiraz - a typically big lush Aussie red at a hefty 15% ABV.
As with many other pairings the best match for steak pie depends how you cook it and whether the sauce includes beer, stock or wine
Barbera is a versatile red that will happily partner pretty well any meaty dish you throw at it. It is more robust and typically drunk younger than its Piedmontese counterparts Barolo and Barbaresco.
None of you, I’m sure, can have failed to notice just how many different bottles of rosé are now available on the average supermarket shelf. From being purely a summer wine there are now rosés for almost every type of food and occasion and rosé pairings to match.
Like many popular dishes chilli con carne has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey.
The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.
Given that whisky is generally considered the most appropriate match for haggis I thought it would be interesting to check out what Britain’s top whisky experts have to recommend for Burns Night:
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?
One of the best hot weather dishes, this piquant dish of cold poached or roast veal with a tuna, anchovy and caper mayonnaise invariably pops up on menus at this time of year. But what to pair with it?
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.
Wheat beers are fabulously flexible when it comes to food matching - the beer world’s equivalent of a crisp white wine.
Fennel is one of the handful of vegetables that can influence a main course pairing - almost always for the better. Its aniseed flavour seems to have a pronounced affinity with many wines, especially whites. Here are some suggested matches with recipes that two British chefs have published this weekend - Gordon Ramsay in the Times and Skye Gyngell in the Independent on Sunday.
Syrah and shiraz, as you may know, are the same grape variety but quite different in character. Syrah, especially from the Northern Rhône, tends to be savoury, shiraz from Australia, far more sweet-fruited. Here I’m concentrating on food pairings for syrah. Read this post if you’re looking for matches for shiraz though there is obviously some overlap.
Like any other red South Africa's Pinotage comes in different styles - some lighter and fruitier than others. When you're matching it with food you take a cue from the sort of ingredients and dishes that go with its two ancestors - Pinot Noir and Cinsault.
The good news if you’re planning an Easter feast around lamb is that practically any medium to full-bodied red wine you enjoy will be delicious with it. But there are a few variables to take into account that might enhance the pairing
Beef Wellington is real treat and deserves an equally indulgent wine to set it off. It is however less robustly flavoured than a steak or rib roast of beef with other key ingredients such as mushrooms and pastry which offset the flavour of the meat. For me that tends to indicate pinot rather than cabernet but take your pick
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
Lucy Bridgers reports on an elegant dinner matching different vintages of Domaine de l’Arlot burgundy with a seasonal spring menu
You might be surprised to learn that rhubarb is a great ingredient to pair with wine. Generally dessert wines have to be sweeter than the dessert they accompany and rhubarb has a natural tartness that makes that easier to achieve especially when it’s served with wine-friendly cream as in a rhubarb fool, pannacotta or a creamy rice pudding.
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.
You’ll always find people argue about shepherd’s pie but in my view it should be made with lamb rather than beef (that’s cottage pie) and with very little, if any tomato - apart from maybe a dash of ketchup for sweetness.
People carp about food and beer pairings, griping that they're just made up pretentions that have no right being associated with something as inclusive and democratic as beer, writes Stephen Beaumont
Last night we had a fun five course wine and food matching dinner at Rockfish Grill in Bristol which showed the range of wines you can match with fish. Here’s a few thoughts about how we approached it for those of you who are organising a similar event.
Caerphilly - or, to be more precise - Gorwydd Caerphilly which is made by my friends Trethowan Brothers - is probably the cheese I know best. And there’s one absolutely outstanding match for it . . .
The best wine to pair with macaroni cheese, or mac'n'cheese as our friends across the pond have it, depends how fancy - and how cheesy - your mac and cheese is.
When I scoured the website for existing pairings with mencia I was amazed how many dishes I’d suggested it with. It really is an incredibly versatile food wine.
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.
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?
One of the main events at the Dartmouth Food Festival this weekend was a dinner at Mitch Tonks Seahorse restaurant cooked by London chef Mark Hix. The unusual factor though was that every dish was matched with a cocktail.
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
Advertising feature: As one of Spain’s most highly regarded red wines you want to pair Ribera del Duero with food that will fully show it off but as it comes at a number of different price points and styles what type of ingredients and dishes work best?
Advertisement feature Fish can be cooked so many different ways these days that you may wonder what kind of wine you should pair with it.
While summer isn’t a time one feels drawn to hearty stews Moroccan tagines are a different matter. Exotic and aromatic, they somehow suit the heat and not being particularly spicy are relatively simple to match with wine.
Should you drink the same sort of full-bodied red wine with steak tartare - raw chopped beef - as you would with a grilled steak?
There’s no doubt about it, trifle is tricky. If it includes booze already do you serve more on the side? And what kind of booze should that be?
More and more people have been drinking orange or amber wine but what’s the best kind of food to pair with it?
Pear cider - also known as perry - has a different taste from apple cider. It’s generally lighter, drier and more fragrant, a better match for delicate ingredients like fish.
For many of us Sunday roasts aren’t a weekly occurrence any more but that makes them even more of a treat - worthy of a good bottle of wine. But which should it be?
All countries like to boast that their signature grape variety goes with practically everything but in the case of Hungary’s furmint it’s true.
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?
If I had to sum up the best food pairing for albarino in one word it would be seafood. Which makes sense considering where it comes from on the coast of Galicia in the Rias Baixas region of northern Spain.
Winemakers like to tell you that their wines go with everything but in the case of Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s best known white wine, it’s true.
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?
If you're wondering what wines you should buy for Easter weekend here's quick guide to what I think are the best Easter wine pairings.
Eating corn on the cob is one of the pleasures of high summer especially now there are so many different ways to cook it. But if you love corn or sweetcorn what wine should you pair with it?
One of the most distinctive styles of white wine, dry rieslings from the Clare and Eden Valley in south Australia have a distinctive limey twist that makes them a particularly good match for Asian and Asian-inspired food.
That pinot grigio is many people's favourite white wine should come as no surprise - it’s a refreshing, versatile wine that pairs really well with light, summery food and ever-popular Italian staples such as pasta and risotto.
If you’re wondering what type of wine to serve with moussaka the obvious answer is a Greek red. The dry, dark-fruited character of the country’s indigenous grapes suits the dish perfectly.
A lot of people still think that wine isn’t a good match with spicy food but our final session of What Food, What Wine? judging this week suggested that there’s no reason for winelovers to throw in the towel. The success (or otherwise) of the pairings did however depend on the heat of the curries and how ‘wet’ or dry they were.
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.
We all know a beer goes down well with a ploughmans and that it’s a great drink to wash down a barbecue but here are 10 more unusual pairings which should liven up your summer drinking.
With Chinese new year coming up this weekend you may be planning a trip to a Chinese restaurant or planning a Chinese meal at home. But which wine to serve?
If you haven’t already made your plans for New Year’s Eve why not invite over a few friends and treat them to a beer dinner instead of one based on wine? It’s a great way to open their eyes to the great range of artisanal beers that are now available.
Should it be wine or beer - or even a cocktail? Last year I asked the Twitter community what their favourite barbecue bevvy was and this is what they came up with . . .
You may find family and friends resistant to the idea of putting beer on the Easter table (though some will be secretly pleased) but stick to your guns.
You may well know what you’re going to drink with the turkey by now but here are some ideas for what to match with your Christmas starters, paired with recipes from some of Britain’s favourite chefs and cookery writers.
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall proclaims firmly in The Guardian today that he won’t be serving turkey for lunch on Christmas Day so if he’s going to break with tradition why shouldn’t you? Bring on the beer!
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.
It’s hard to avoid the obvious on St Paddy’s Day. Guinness, Bailey’s and Irish whiskey are the usual suspects but if none of these appeals here are the sort of wines that will work with classic Irish fare.
Mark Hix, a great forager himself, concentrates on recipes you can make from the hedgerow this week in The Independent (now is a good time to go to his new restaurant, I suggest . . . ) so I’m thinking a little outside the box as to what to pair with them. Country wines, made with hedgerow fruits, seem the perfect answer. I don’t know why we don’t see more of them.
The Bordeaux wine region produces a multitude of top class red wines that these days tend to be blends of four main grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Artichokes have the reputation of being a wine-killer but as with most of these diktats the problem is over-played. True, artichokes can make even dry whites taste oddly sweet but that doesn’t account for the different ways in which they are cooked and how they are served.
I’ve written before about pairing wine with Chinese food - and so have some of my contributors but here’s a slightly different way of going about it that may help you decide which bottle to choose and make your pairings more successful. It involves deciding which flavours are predominant in a dish or selection of dishes.
Although I regularly recommend wines to pair with barbecue - most recently in my Guardian column - I’m actually an equal fan of beer. In fact I think many types of barbecue work better with it.
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
Inspired by the British Kebab awards Zeren Wilson wonders what the perfect wine pairing is for a kebab and comes up with some surprising conclusions.
If culture and ‘terroir’ are a basis for deciding which drinks bestmatch a particular cuisine then beer must have a strong claim to bepaired with Scandinavian food.
Sometimes you go to a wine dinner with some trepidation wondering if the wine will stand up to the food but I was pretty optimistic that Domaine Long-Depaquit’s Chablis would survive at Nobu (the original Metropolitan hotel restaurant in London, not LA, sadly!)
Blogger Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth braces herself for a lunch featuring classic French dishes and Australian wine. Was she convinced? Read on . . .
I was reminded about my trip to Priorat almost exactly two years ago by my recent visit to the Roussillon which has a similar terroir. And I think the wines would go with similar kinds of food. These were my suggested pairings at the time . . .
A report on the fascinating food and wine matching workshop that was held at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon last month which showed that you can find a pinot pairing for almost any kind of lamb dish.
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.
The perfect match for lamb is red wine, right? Well, mostly but not always as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in the Guardian this weekend and my own recent experience have demonstrated
Mark Hix may have been knocking back the tequila on his recent trip to Mexico but if you’re not made of such stern stuff try my alternative suggestions for his Mexican-inspired recipes in the Independent today.
For most people the New Zealand winery Cloudy Bay is synonymous with sauvignon blanc but their range now extends to sparkling, sweet and red wines, a message underlined by a dinner at Hix Mayfair (in Brown’s Hotel) the other day.
If you’re celebrating July 4th this week and haven’t yet made up your mind what to drink here are some last minute suggestions.
My first Match of the Week of the New Year is a classic but none the worse for that: an award-winning South African Bordeaux blend with a slow roast leg of lamb flavoured with garlic and rosemary.
It’s not often these days that I hit on a totally new discovery but this combination at the newly opened Pitt Cue Co, a southern American-style ribshack is the business.
The other night I went back to one of my favourite restaurants Ransome’s Dock, a friendly neighbourhood restaurant in Battersea that has great food and an even more stellar wine list, put together with detailed and well-written tasting notes by chef/proprietor Martin Lam. (You can download it from the site)
Did I want to go on a truffle trip to Spain at the end of January? Balmy Barbados seemed like a better option but since that wasn’t on the cards and the enquiry came from an old friend I said yes. The 2 day visit - the annual Viñas del Vero ‘Days of Wine and Truffles’ in Somontano would include an outdoor picnic in the foothills of the Pyrenees (eek), a truffle hunt and - the clincher - a multi-course truffle menu by one of the region’s most talented chefs followed by a gastronomic brunch. “Bring the Gaviscon”. my friend sagely advised.
It’s easy to get stuck in the trap of thinking red wine is the only accompaniment for meat, especially red meat but in these days of multi-cultural eating that’s not necessarily true. And a good case in point is a Thai beef salad with its zingy, hot/sour flavours which influence the match much more than the beef does.
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.
Although the blossom is out it still feels a bit nippy at night so here's a light lunch to enjoy with a couple of friends that has a touch of spring about it but still includes a warming stew.
I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):
Some unusual steak recipes from Jason Atherton (then of Maze, now of Pollen Street Social) that prove you don't always need to drink red with beef.
I've been looking forward to beer writer Melissa Cole's new book The Beer Kitchen since I heard about it a few months ago. As I expected it's packed not only with delicious recipes but some great suggestions for the type of beers to use in and pair with each dish (see the Cook and Pair suggestions below)
This report on a steak and wine tasting I did at Hawksmoor Spitalfields back in 2007 is now over 10 years old but the advice still holds good. It's quite a long read though so for more concise steak and wine matching advice head to The Best Wine Pairings for Steak.
There are very few occasions on which sausages don't appeal but what’s the best pairing for them?
Pigs and Pinot is a well established combination that is the focus of an annual celebration at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg and after reminding myself of the combination last week at Daniel Boulud’s new London outpost Bar Boulud I can see why.
I agonised over whether this should be the standout pairing from this marvellous Lebanese meal at Arabica last week but it won by just a whisker.
Just as last week’s match of the week was a classic - so is this week’s: the main course we had at Oliver Peyton’s National Gallery Café at a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Circle of Wine Writers.
If you’re lighting a few fireworks for the kids (or yourselves, of course . . . ) tonight and hanging round in the cold you’ll need some warming food and a good chilli hits the spot perfectly
Last night we went round to some new friends and they made the most delicious home-made burgers.
It should really come as no surprise that a beef stew made with red burgundy should pair with red burgundy but when you think about it it’s not a given. A rich stew cooked for hours in red wine accompanied with a light red burgundy doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven even if the cooking wine involved is burgundy.
After the tradition-bound cooking of the Christmas period (from which the family will never let you deviate . . .) it’s good to branch out a bit with your New Year’s Eve meal and also pick some dishes that will allow you to drink some serious wines. Note you need to start the beef two days in advance.
As I mentioned in my last post our last lunch of the Oregon trip was at Cristom where sales director (no less!) John D'Anna cooked us a great meal. Here's how he did it and - where I have a link to them - the recipes he used. Try it!
Here's a barbecue I've dug out of the archives - a middle-eastern inspired BBQ from my book Food, Wine and Friends.
I was interested to read in the Telegraph this weekend that Ken Hom is planning to move from his French base in Cahors to spend more time in Italy and Thailand.
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 first met winemaker Wilhelm Coetzee back in 2006 when he was working for Flagstone. He's now working at Durbanville Hills and this is his favourite 'braii' recipe.
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook - perfect for this time of year.
Maybe I've got a bit overexcited with all the sun this week but the barbecue season doesn't seem that far away so it was good to find Dan Vaux-Nobes' 101 BBQ and Grill recipes arriving through my letterbox.
I’ll be doing a major round-up on my trip to Provence next week buthere are a few more thoughts on matching rosé and food, an update of mylast overview
I have to admit I accepted Leonid Shutov’s invitation to taste vodka with some trepidation having heard tales of the hangovers that some of my colleagues had suffered as a result of their visits to his Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard.
Although there’s still plenty of the rich, lush style of Shiraz we’ve come to associate with Australia there’s more than one style as I discovered on my recent trip. If you like more restrained, even funky syrahs, Australian producers can deliver. Unsurprisingly many of them are organic or biodynamic and made with a minimum of sulphur. Most are from cooler vineyards. Take your pick . . .
Beaujolais - by which I mean red Beaujolais - is the most French of wines, the perfect wine pairing for a picnic or bistro meal.
The flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - and this is why it is so popular - are powerful and aromatic: citrus, gooseberry and passionfruit in spades. So you if you're looking for a food match need big flavours on your plate to stand up to it.
We Brits don't need much encouragement to eat pies. But which is the better match - wine or beer?
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.
We had a celebration dinner with old friends the other night at my favourite local restaurant Culinaria so cracked open a bottle of La Réserve de Léoville Barton 2004*, a St Julien and the second wine of Léoville Barton. It really was quite lovely - rich, plummy, velvety - at its peak but with a few more years to go. It was everything you want from red Bordeaux (unless you have bottomless pockets)
Celebrations come thick and fast at this time of the year - first Burns' Night, and now Chinese New Year and Australia Day. Since both fall on the same day this year I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone (terrible expression but you know what I mean) and mark the Year of the Ox with a beef recipe matched with an Australian wine.
If you’re going to or hosting a Burns’ Night dinner tonight and want to create a bit of a stir, crack open a bottle of Westmalle Dubbel, a classic Belgian Trappist ale that is still made by monks at the monastery of Westmalle. You could of course drink a Scottish beer - there are plenty of good ones - but haggis to my mind needs a bit of roundness, sweetness and strength, qualities you find more often in Belgian than British beers.
My match of the week has to include Gladstone Pinot Noir from Wairarapa in New Zealand which featured in two unexpectedly good pairings at two different restaurants.
You might think dumplings were humble fare, not best suited to show off a great wine but as last week’s tasting lunch at Bob Bob Ricard proved, that’s not necessarily the case.
The weather has been so absurdly autumnal this week that I cooked a substantial stew for friends on Saturday night, an intensely flavoured braise of beef short ribs (or pot au feu as our local butcher describes them) with plenty of lush, red wine (a Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley in Chile which is part of the Waitrose own label range).
One of the tricky decisions to make when you’re serving a rich, winey stew is whether to go for a wine of equal weight or a lighter medium-bodied wine as a refreshing contrast.
One of the questions I get asked most often is what to drink with a treasured bottle and this week’s match of the week provides the answer it it’s a red.
For some reason I always think of beef with nebbiolo and other wines like Bordeaux and rioja with lamb but this combination at one of Bristol’s best restaurants Bulrush the other night was stunning.
Q I am going to a dinner where we take our own wine. The starter is slices of smoked pheasant with partridge pate, followed by fillet of venison then a dessert of profiteroles with lemon cream + chocolate sauce. then a savoury of rabbit and tarragon terrine. You may now realise my problem! Any suggestions?
What happened to days 2 and 3 you may be asking and indeed that’s what I’m asking myself. We swept through Eastern Washington as fast as a tornado, barely pausing to sleep, never mind write.
I made this simple, classic French one-pot meal down in the Languedoc in April last year - proof that a stew hits the spot at what can still be a chilly time of year.
Barbecue no longer automatically means burgers and ribs as Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co's new book Chasing Smoke amply demonstrates. This is a gorgeous way of grilling and serving lamb chops
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 . . .
One of the world’s most underrated grapes yet capable of making some of its most delicious dry whites, Sémillon isn’t on the radar for many. So if you get hold of a bottle what should you pair with it?
Although I make my living writing about how food can enhance wine - and vice versa - I would never want to be dogmatic about it and freely admit that there are occasions when it matters less than others.
This week’s match is a predictive one rather than one I’ve recently experienced as I’ve been invited to a Burn’s Night dinner tomorrow night by the quirky Brewdog brewery and don’t yet know what the outcome will be.
OK, this is one of the most classic wine pairings in the world but none the worse for that.
Apologies for returning once again to the subject of crab but it is one of my favourite summer foods and this was the outstanding match of last week.
Last week was a particularly indulgent one for dining out so it was a tough call coming up with my match of the week but I think it has to be the Côte du Boeuf I had at Racine with a stellar bottle of Ridge’s 1999 Monte Bello
Steak and red wine sounds too obvious a pairing to highlight but sometimes it hits the spot so perfectly it’s worth being reminded there’s nothing better you can eat with a good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (unless you’re a vegetarian, obviously . . .)
As is often the way Christmas wasn’t a time for any startling food and wine discoveries, rather for celebrating favourite combinations but I realise I forgot to mention one pairing just before Christmas at Angelus restaurant in Lancaster Gate.
Although I’ve visited posh St James’s wine club 67 Pall Mall several times for tastings I hadn't ever had lunch there until last week. I don’t know quite what I expected - perhaps the sort of roast and overcooked veg you’d find in a gentleman’s club but certainly not a rare burger in an airy brioche bun with perfectly cooked onion rings on the side.
One of the highlights of my trip to Australia a couple of years ago to celebrate the World’s 50 Best restaurant awards was lunch at one of their best known cookery writers Lyndey Milan’s in Sydney
This menu was created as part of a series of pieces I wrote for Sainsbury's magazine. The idea was to invite your friends round for a wine tasting then all have a slap-up meal afterwards. This meal was based on a tasting of South American reds from Argentina and Chile but it would be just as fun to base it round Malbec (Malbec being the perfect wine for a steak).
After the wild winds and lashing rain we’ve endured in the UK this week my drink of the week really had to be a full-bodied red and what better choice than a Malbec?
I have to confess I found it pretty hard to concentrate on the finer nuances of the food and wine combinations at the recent Cinnamon Club dinner. But when the speaker is the discursive Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon and you're sitting next to him that's no great surprise. Before the meal had even started we were into Kierkegaard and a vigorous discussion of terroir in the bar below over our glasses of Vin Gris de Cigare (a typically unorthodox full-bodied rosé based on Grenache, Cinsault and Roussanne).
Turkish food is not traditionally accompanied by wine. And although the Turks do have a wine industry not much of it makes its way over here. But here are some thoughts on possible pairings for Mark Hix's Turkish inspired recipes in the Independent this weekend"
Wine writer Stuart Walton casts a sceptical eye over accepted wisdom:
If you like a bit of a project make Richard Turner's beef rendang this weekend - one of his favourite recipes, he tells me, from his brilliant new book PRIME.
With July 4th falling on a Saturday chances are you’re going to be thinking barbecue this weekend. Here’s an authentic Texan style BBQ recipe from “Slow Fire, The Beginners Guide To Barbecue” by Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ.
If you want to serve something a little different at your Christmas party try these delicious crisp little Dutch meatballs from our guest contributor Bianca Ford of Sip with Supper (@sipwithsupper on Twitter).
I make a point of not going to Vinexpo, the biennial wine fair in Bordeaux (too hectic, too noisy) but it does mean you miss out on the occasional treat like the gala dinner that was held at Château Mouton Rothschild to celebrate the opening of their new chai.
Last night was my first in a two week trip of Australia - an informal dinner with Vasse Felix at a Chinese restaurant in Perth (Grand Palace).
I’m aware that there’s a Francophile bias to this site but there are recipes where I automatically turn to the New World. The spicy lamb dish I picked up the other night from my local restaurant and takeaway Culinaria is one of them - a hottish tagine-style dish of spiced lamb, aubergines, chickpeas & merguez sausage which was almost on the verge of being a curry.
This week I’m on a wine trip in South Africa (so posting may be slightly more spasmodic). There have been many great matches already but two interesting ones have involved Semillon a grape the country is beginning to handle very impressively.
This may sound an unlikely combination but bear with me.
Yesterday we had the family round for lunch and served a 2002 Douro red from Portugal with the main course of spice-crusted roast lamb with garlic and rosemary, roast potatoes (my youngest son managed to put away 15 but remains, annoyingly, as skinny as a rake) and in-season purple sprouting broccoli.
With four days in Edinburgh and three at the Ballymaloe Food & Drink Litfest in Co Cork this weekend I’ve been overwhelmed with good food and drink matches but as I haven’t singled out a dessert for a while I’m making Tom Kitchin’s Rhubarb cheesecake my hero dish this week.
I’ve been researching a big feature on perry over the last few days sothat's what this week's pairing had to be. And by that I don’t meanwhat is popularly called pear cider but a cider-like drink that is madewith real perry pears.
Last week I went on a flying visit to Tuscany to take part in the olive oil harvest and had the rare treat of being able to sample oil that has just been pressed. As you can see from the picture, it’s an incredible colour - literally deep olive green and has the most fantastic grassy flavour.
It’s unusual for me to have two consecutive beer pairings as my match of the week but not surprising given that this week’s comes from an excellent beer dinner at The Bull, Highgate to mark the launch of Canadian beer and food expert Stephen Beaumont’s Beer and Food Companion
I’ve been enthusiastically cooking from Sami Tamimi’s and Tara Wigley's new book Falastin this past couple of weeks and made their recipe for koftas with tahini, potato and onion over the weekend during a Zoom cooking session with a couple of pals in Bristol.
I've been in Paris for the last few days so this week's pairing had to be from here. There are so many possibilities but as I haven't written about a meat match for a while I'm going to pick the braised beef cheek and vegetables we had with a quirky wine called KM31 from the Roussillon.
Given that it’s been in the mid-30s in the Cape Winelands recently it’s not surprising the local prefer their beef cold rather than hot but that also requires a change of thinking - from full-bodied to lighter reds.
I’ve just had a sneak preview of a very lush new B & B Langford Fivehead which opens next week (March 1st) in the Somerset Levels just outside Taunton. The building dates back to 1453 and is owned and run by former BBC Good Food editor Orlando Murrin and his partner Peter Steggall
I’m not normally someone who craves a ‘dirty burger’ but when I was sent a couple in a meat delivery from my mate Northern Irish butcher Pete Hannan I thought I’d go the full hog with it.
When you’re roasting lamb you’re almost spoilt for choice. Almost any red you enjoy will go with this most wine-friendly of dishes but my pick of Thierry Puzelat’s quirky KO In Cot we Trust (2005) proved a winner
I still remember my visit to the great Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s biggest beer festival. Mysteriously it’s not held in October at all - or rather it doesn’t start in October but in September - kicking off next weekend.
With Hallowe'en just a few days away here's a sophisticated supper for those of you who don't have to go out trick or treating . . .
I’m surprised there aren’t more wine brands and labels dedicated to Hallowe’en but yesterday I found a perfect one at the Majestic press tasting.
When I read Mark Hix recipes in The Independent today they were so challenging that I nearly gave up but as everyone else seems to be writing about asparagus today and I’ve done a lot on asparagus recently there was no other option . . .
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.
We tend to think of barbecue as American but of course many cuisines involve dishes that are cooked over coals such as these delicious kebabs from Selin Kiazim's fabulous book Oklava.
One of the most beautiful and original books that has been published recently is Romy Gill's On the Himalayan Trail which focusses on the food of Kashmir and Ladakh. Here's her recipe for lamb harissa which - surely a bonus for meateaters - is commonly garnished with a sheekh kebab. I also like the idea it's a brunch dish!
This is just one of the amazing pies in Calum Franklin's The Pie Room which will happily give you projects to work through all winter (just as well in the circumstances!). He says it's for 'wintry days when the roads are blocked and you are snowed in' but I'd be perfectly happy to have it on a grey October or November day. However one can't argue with Calum's conclusion that it's 'rich, decadent and best followed by a nap on the couch'.
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.
Why has no-one had the genius idea of putting beef bourguignon into a pie before? Here's the recipe courtesy of the brilliant Ginger Pig Meat Book which I reviewed here.
There’s still a couple of weeks more to enjoy the British asparagus season so here’s an interesting beer pairing to try as a change fromwine. Belgian witbier or bière blanche like Hoegaarden is just perfect with green asparagus, especially when served with goats’ cheese.
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.
There’s a distinct nip in the air this week that makes makes me suddenly feel much less like eating summery food. Last night we went round to friends and shared some absolutely awesome steak pies they’d brought back from a butcher called Murray Mitchell in St Andrews in Scotland (they will send them by mail order in the UK apparently if you ring them on 01334 474465).
The other day I won a selection of Pieminister pies in a raffle and as my husband was away rather sneakily found myself scoffing them for supper (until guilt set in and I put the rest in the freezer). As I also had some beers to taste from a new Marks and Spencer range I decided to pick one to partner with each pie and the combination that really impressed me was their London Porter with the Pieminister ‘Moo and Blue’ (aka steak and Stilton).
About the last thing you'd expect at the launch of a new burger joint is to be served a £59 bottle of wine. But then Danny Meyer, more famous for his New York fine dining spots, is no ordinary restaurateur.
I found myself back in an old haunt last week - Peter Gordon’s The Providores in London’s Marylebone High Street. As the bar was crowded we went up to the restaurant and treated ourselves to the à la carte*
This time of year is full of pre-Christmas get-togethers which means a higher than usual number of meals out and an above average number of interesting wine pairings.
This great pairing arose as a result of a new interest my husband has in natural wines. Actually no-one has come up with a watertight definition of ‘natural’ but it’s generally agreed that the vines are treated organically and/or biodynamically and the wines made with as little sulphur and chemical additives as possible (in some cases none).
A student gathering is not the first place you’d think of finding a good wine pairing or, indeed, a drinkable wine at all but the talk I gave last week at the University of Bristol Wine Circle produced some great combinations.
We all know that roast lamb is a great pairing with red wines but the assumption is often that it’s prepared in a classic French way so it was interesting to note over the weekend that if you give it a middle-eastern spin exactly the same applies
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!)
Now here’s an unexpected match. I would be wary of pairing a Beaujolais - even a Morgon - with something as sweet as a lamb tagine with dried fruits thinking it would make the wine taste slightly sharp but the combination worked perfectly.
This, I think, was the standout pairing from our Honey & Co wine club on Sunday and a great illustration of the difference a dish can make to the way a wine tastes.
A cabernet would have been the last wine I would have thought of drinking with a curry but as happens from time to time you come across an unexpected wine match that really works.
One of the most striking things I’ve noticed during my few days in Rome this past week is how white wine seems a better match for the local food than red does. Even with red meat like lamb? Strangely, yes.
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.
Those of you who have read my report yesterday on the 20th anniversary of Charlie Trotter’s will know I’ve spent the last few days in Chicago eating some quite amazing food. But occasionally you need a change from all that gourmet fare and I found it in that great Chicago institution Gibsons steakhouse where they serve something called a ‘Gold Coast Slider’.
Faggots, which are basically a rather gamey British meatball made with pork belly and offal, are a bit of an acquired taste along the lines of the French sausage andouillette but well made, as they are when supplied by our local butcher, they can be very tasty. They need to be accompanied by onion gravy which normally leads one in the direction of a robust ale but the other night we had them with a bottle of Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan 2006 which actually worked very well.
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!)
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.)
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*.
It’s been so hot over the last couple of days here in the Languedoc I haven’t felt much like cooking so we raided the very good local traiteur (takeaway) in Murviel yesterday for our weekend’s eating. The highlight was some beautifully cooked rare roast veal with herbs - in the style of Italian porchetta.
Last week I was in Galicia (for three days. Without my suitcase. Thankyou Easyjet) visiting the denominations of Valdeorras and Bierzo where the star red grape is Mencia. (For years I got them confused periodically thinking the grape was Bierzo and the region Mencia but I’ve finally got it straight.)
My match of the week for last week has to come from the sublime WIMPS lunch I had at the Ledbury which members can read about here. It was hard to decide which the best pairing was but I think the calf’s kidney and 1998 Gilles Barge Côte Rôtie just shaved it.
About the most unlikely wine match you could imagine - a delicate fish with a 19 year old red wine - but it worked! Which shows you can always be surprised by food and wine pairing.
Last Friday I attended the Soil Association annual Organic Awards lunch at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol. The menu was based on the winning ingredients which in the case of the main course was Langley Chase organic mutton served with chard and spelt risotto.
Coming home to the UK after 10 days in the Caribbean was a bit of a shock to the system especially when we were snowed in on Friday so I leapt at a neighbour’s invitation to come round for a hearty beef stew.
If you think of lamb you almost certainly think of red wine but in a white wine producing region like Rueda white is the normal go to.
You’d think a rich winey sauce or jus would be the easiest thing to match with red wine but that isn’t necessarily the case as it tends to compete with it.
With this unseasonably hot weather why not look to Greece for inspiration when you're entertaining. Here's a simple meal for 4 that was inspired by a trip to Greece a few years ago.
I was going to recommend a rosé this week having got the misguided impression from the heatwave last weekend that summer was on its way. But today in my home town of Bristol it’s cold, windy and about to rain so I think malbec is more the order of the day.
Now that malbec has become the Rioja de nos jours there are so many brands on the market that it’s hard to choose which to buy.
I had a conversation on Twitter before Christmas with Elly from The Durham Brewery about whether there was a perfect beer for Christmas pudding.
The dilemma for us wine writers is when to recommend a wine we're really excited about. Do we save it up for a round-up of the best wines we’ve tasted in that category or tell you about it straight away on the basis that every other journo will be pushing it too?
This was recommended by the manager at my local Oddbins in Bristol and I really love it.
What bottle should you take to dinner with friends? It’s a tricky one. You want something that doesn’t break the bank but will impress. Cheap bordeaux and burgundy are dodgy. Barefoot and Blossom Hill brand you as a cheapskate
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?
If you're not one for hearts and flowers but still feel like cooking up a special meal for Valentine's night this recipe from Will Beckett, Huw Gott and Richard Turner's Hawksmoor at Home* would fit the bill perfectly.
If you want to ring the changes on your Sunday roast try this delicious recipe from Diana Henry's brilliant new book From the Oven to the Table.
Syllabub - a velvety-smooth concoction of sweet wine and cream - is one of the great English desserts, dating from the 16th century. At this time of year I like to make it with orange rather than lemon, topped with an irresistibly crunchy mixture of orange zest and sugar.
So many cookbooks these days have similar dishes that it's great to come across one that includes recipes you won't find elsewhere. That's absolutely the case with Eat Share Love a collection of recipes and stories from the home cooks of Bristol's 91 language communities collated by food writer and campaigner Kalpna Woolf.
Scandinavian food is becoming increasingly popular but what type of wine should you drink with it? Lucy Bridgers reports on how German wine fares.
One of the most enjoyable food and wine matches I’ve experienced was also the most serendipitous. The family were away, I was working on a book and staggered down half way through the evening to find the fridge virtually bare except for a half bottle of Krug, a half-empty packet of the kids’ fish fingers and some frozen spinach. Ten minutes later, the spinach well anointed with butter, the fish fingers grilled and the Krug poured I had the perfect supper.
If you've bough a bottle of English wine to celebrate St George's Day or English Wine Week you may be wondering what sort of food suits it best.
Or 'what wine should I drink with hachis parmentier?' - the French answer to shepherd's and cottage pie.
If you've been following the new alternative lifestyle programme Château Monty on Channel 4 you’ll know that ‘Monty’ is wine writer Monty Waldin who set out to make his own biodynamic wine in the Roussillon down in the far corner of south-west France
Last week I was travelling back through France again and encountered a number of interesting matches but the one that worked best for me was in a modern bistro by the covered market in Besançon called La Table des Halles.
This was a wine pairing I hadn’t thought of putting together before but once experienced last week at Racine it seemed supremely logical.
'Hmmm, steak and red wine - nothing particularly original about that' you might be thinking but bear with, as they say.
I was overwhelmed with good wine pairings last week but given that quite a few were similar to ones I’ve written about before I’m making this my star match.
Although you can drink wine with a burger I’m coming to the conclusion that beer and cocktails are a lot more fun and, particularly with the modern American-style ales, have the sweetness to deal with the multiple flavours of today’s adventurous toppings.
I know I’ve highlighted crab as a match for a number of different wines but it really is a great dish to pick if you’re drinking a serious white. This time however the wine was far from stellar: the basic house Sauvignon at Culinaria in Bristol where I was doing a photo shoot for our next book.
What to drink with a treasured old bottle of wine is one of the most frequent questions I get asked and the answer I usually give is ‘keep it simple’
I’ve got a bit obsessed with Virgin Marys (alcohol-free Bloody Marys) over the last few days.
Normally my matches of the week are quite specific - a dish and a drink - but it’s always great to find a wine that sails through everything on the table as this gorgeous grenache did at London’s latest barbecue restaurant Temper last week.
Last week we were down at our house in Languedoc mainly cooking from home* and raiding the cellar for wines we thought needed drinking up - at least that was our excuse!
Manzanilla sherry never fails to surprise me with its versatility but you don't often come across a combination as good as the one I had last week at Lido restaurant in Bristol.
I’ve always thought of riesling as a better match for the fresh flavours of south-east Asian-inspired food than curry but a visit to the Lahore Kebab House proved otherwise this week.
I can’t pretend to be wholly impartial about this wine match which comes from Foxlow, the latest restaurant from my son Will and his business partner Huw Gott (who also own Hawksmoor).
One of the questions I regularly get asked is what to drink with a special bottle. The general expectation is that I’ll suggest a meal of Michelin-starred quality but as this match of the week shows a rustic dish will do very nicely.
Spaghetti and meatballs is a really rich pasta dish you need to wash down with a refreshing red - preferably Italian.
Continuing the exotic vibe of last week’s pairing the standout combination this week was a Georgian Saperavi with Welsh Wagyu beef!
Last week was a bumper week for wine pairing but setting aside the matches with older vintages of Pazo Senorans albarino at El Celler de Can Roca which were so mind-blowing they deserve a longer post, this is the one that stood out.
Our prize this month couldn't be better for our lucky winner - a whole box of lamb joints to enjoy over the Easter break.
Making a cocktail doesn’t have to involve the skills of a bartender, a battery of equipment and a shelf full of obscure bottles. You can make a simple cocktail for your beloved with as little as two ingredients - so long as they’re red or pink . . .
One of the most captivating wine books I’ve read is Nina Caplan’s The Wandering Vine which explores the footprint the Romans left on the wine growing areas of Europe. Part wine guide, part travelogue, part personal journey and exploration of her Jewish roots, Caplan traces the interest in wine she derived from her late father.
So here’s a special for Malbec World Day - maybe a bit of a cheat as it also includes some Touriga Nacional but I quite like Malbec in a blend.
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
If you like the style of super-Tuscans but find the prices a bit steep the Tenuta Monteti wines, which are stocked by London merchant Lea & Sandeman, are for you.
If you’re someone who is sensitive to sulphur but not convinced by natural wines Earth’s Essence shiraz is for you.
I’m continually on the lookout for soft drinks that are not too sweet as I know there’s a big demand for them. This isn’t perfect - it’s still a fruit juice so quite high in sugar - but it is genuinely refreshing.
Instead of hurtling down south on the motorway as we used to do with the kids to minimise family squabbling, we’ve taken to a stately three day progression with frequent stop-offs to visit winemakers, eat or simply drive through France’s beautiful unspoilt countryside and blissfully traffic-free back roads.
Maybe Chinese restaurants are like buses. You don’t get any new openings for a while then several come along at once. So after Bo London the other day, it’s HKK, the latest project from the Hakkasan group.
What is it about the B-word at the moment? Every restaurateur and his dog seems to want to call themselves a brasserie, usually indicating the room is big and has red banquettes. But Brasserie Chavot would be better just called Chavot.
If you think you have the ultimate bolognese recipe, think again. Try this fantastic version from Tom Parker-Bowles book Let's Eat Meat. I love Tom's style of writing - do read the great introduction:
A warming wintry recipe from José Pizarro's Catalonia - the perfect dish to cook as the nights draw in.
I always think it's hard to improve on macaroni cheese but adding crab, which my mate Fiona Sims has done in her brilliant new The Boat Cookbook, is an inspired touch.
We get so used to thinking of red wine as the only pairing for beef that it’s good to be reminded there are other options. Especially when it comes to Japan’s fabled Wagyu beef which is all about subtle tastes and textures.
It’s not often you find a wine that sails through every dish you put in front of it but I’d say on the basis of Friday night’s Italian feast at Wild Artichokes in Kingsbridge that the Tenuta Tasca Buonora Etna Bianco 2017 would see you through almost any Italian meal.
This wasn’t the most innovative wine pairing I came across in the last 7 days but it was such a classic I couldn’t fail to make it my match of the week.
I had lunch for the first time for a while at Hix’s Oyster and Chop House in Farringdon last week where I ordered - appropriately enough - a chop. In this instance a veal chop with sage butter.
The great thing about going to old country pubs is that they tend to have wines you can’t find anywhere else - or certainly not at the price. Like the bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994 we found at the Nobody Inn in Doddiscombleigh in Devon at the weekend.
Showing off a mature bottle of red is usually a question of keeping it simple but it adds an extra dimension if you can serve the perfect cut.
This match, which I enjoyed at Plateau wine bar in Brighton last week, breaks a couple of wine pairing conventions. Firstly that you match red meat with a full bodied red. And secondly that you don’t drink red wine with asparagus.
As it was my first Easter in Greece - which was celebrated a month later than that of the western Christian church this year - what could I focus on but what to drink with a Greek Easter lunch?
The highlight of last week was my trip to Priorat so this week’s pairing has to be one of the wines I tasted. Oddly it wasn’t one of the wines I enjoyed most although it was in the upper echelons of what the region has to offer : a Vall Llach 2004, a blend of 65% Cariñena (old vine Carignan), 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Nero d’avola may not be a grape variety you’re familiar with but in a recent blind tasting of 25,000 consumers carried out by Majestic it proved by far the most popular choice
This may well be the most off-the-wall pairing I post this year: chardonnay with a lamb curry? Extraordinary - and this is why
I’m conscious I don’t post as many red wine pairings as I should partly because I tend to drink white wine more often, particularly at this time of year but this was a really spectacular match at a Visit Greece lunch at Above at Hide last week held to promote the Greek wine trails.
I’m increasingly impressed by the new generation of Spanish wines that are arriving on the shelves. The other day I had a fabulously crisp, zesty white called Godello from the up and coming region of Bierzo, in the region of Castilla y Leon in the north-west of Spain, not far from Galicia.
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.
I imagine you all know how well sake works with sashimi but it came as quite a surprise to me - wagyu aside - how well it could handle red meat and spice
One of the pleasures of the huge clearing and putting away operation at our new French home is the discovery of forgotten bottles. The other day it was a Marcillac from Domaine Laurens which went incredibly well with that night’s supper of seared calves’ liver.
Despite the razmatazz surrounding the launch of Dom Perignon 2003 and a serious amount of wine and truffle action to which I’ll devote more space shortly I’m picking a more modest match from last week - the delicious beetroot-cured salmon, capers and egg yolk and 2010 Godelia Godello I had at José Pizarro’s new London restaurant Pizarro.
It’s amazing how many different styles of eating you can pack into a week, particularly when you’re travelling. At the moment I’m in sunny Chile stuffing myself with seafood and sauvignon blanc so I'm finding it hard to remember that just six days ago I was in rain-ravaged Britain craving pies and stews.
Beef and chardonnay doesn’t sound like an obvious combo at first glance but it depends, as always, how the beef is cooked.
This has been one of the most difficult weeks ever to pick my match of the week but this, by a whisker, was it.
I’ve been thinking a fair bit about red wine and Indian food lately - of which more in due course - but wanted to flag up one pairing from my trip to India last week which definitely worked.
You might not immediately think of wine in the context of Moroccan food but in fact Morocco has been a significant wine producer since the days of the French protectorate. And they planted the same grape varieties - grenache, syrah and cinsault that thrive in the south of France.
One of the most intriguing things to find out about chefs is not what they cook in their restaurants but what they feed their family and friends. True, at St John one morphs into the other, but the lunch they held in London this week to celebrate the publication of Fergus Henderson’s new book The Complete Nose to Tail was one I’d have been more than proud to put on for my mates.
This is the kind of easy meal I like to make for friends. The soup can be made in advance (or buy one of the excellent ready made chilled soups there are nowadays and dress it up with some fresh herbs), the steak is finished in the oven and the dessert literally takes minutes.
Majorca produces serious wine? Go on, you’re kidding! No I’m not as it happens. This luxuriant red from Bodegues Macia Batle - surprisingly stocked by Marks & Spencer - is a great buy.
If you’re looking for a cheap all-purpose red after Christmas this old favourite from the Co-op should fit the bill.
I must confess a sentimental attachment to Gentilini who I visited on the beautiful island of Kefalonia back in 2001 when I was researching a feature on Greek food.(Kefalonia - or Cephalonia as it's sometimes spelt - is where the book and film Captain Corelli's Mandolin was set.)
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.
It was the savoury dishes that initially attracted me to Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter’s excellent Leon: Fast Vegetarian but this is a cracking dessert with in-season rhubarb.
If you're thinking of going in for our Le Creuset competition this month you may have been tempted by the rather gorgeous-looking cast iron square grill.
An elegant, quick roast from Fran Warde's New Bistro that makes the best of in-season rhubarb. You could even serve it on Valentine's night.
As you'll see in the entertaining section today I've come up with the idea of throwing a hot dog party and here's a recipe for a basic chilli to go with it. You could of course use a more authentic recipe (without beans) but authenticity isn't the point of hot dogs. They're basically fun food.
This spring is seeing a bumper crop of new cookery books of which Catherine Phipps' Citrus is one of the most enticing ...
To mark National Curry Week here's an article I wrote for Decanter a while back about Indian food and wine matching at the Cinnamon Club which still contains some useful advice about wine and spice pairing:
Given that it's St David's Day here's a piece I wrote a few years ago on Welsh salt-marsh lamb - and why spring lamb isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Red wine is such an established go to with steak that it’s hard to consider anything else as a pairing but it struck me this week after a few days tasting rum with Philippines producer Don Papa (yes, it’s a hard life … ) that dark rum might also be an interesting match.
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.
I don’t that often order sake in a restaurant but when I do I wonder why I don’t drink it more often.
A good obscure pairing to kick off the week from the newly opened Vinoteca wine bar at Seymour Place.
One of the (many) charms of champagne is how well it goes with comfort food like a shrimp burger as I discovered at London’s famous seafood restaurant J Sheekey last week
Wine pairing is much more about the way you cook a dish and the sauce you serve with it than it is about the basic ingredient and so it proved with this week’s match at the recently opened Brackenbury.
As last week was Sherry Week and I’m a MASSIVE fan my match of the week clearly had to involve sherry. But which to choose? It was hard given the number of standout pairings at the sherry dinner my local tapas bar, Bar 44 in Clifton put on but I’m going for the sherry by which I was most blown away - a limited edition of Gonzalez Byass Alfonso oloroso, one of six rare casks that are being bottled by the bodega under the name ‘Vinos Finitos’ (finite wines)
Last week was a week for revisiting the classics. Oysters and Chablis, Fino and fried almonds (and excellent jamon croquetas at Paco Tapas) and this absolutely textbook match at Bar Boulud in Knightsbridge which recently reopened after last year’s devastating fire in its host hotel, the Mandarin Oriental.
There were two wine pairings in contention for my match of the week slot this week. The other being the excellent combination of mature cheddar with Washington State cabernet but that’s not rocket science and this was the more intriguing discovery.
It's funny how your attitude to food and wine matching changes when you visit a wine-producing area like the Languedoc which is where I've been for the past few days. You tend to drink the local wine because it's what the locals drink. It may not be the best match but it doesn't really matter, particularly at lunchtime when you want something light.
Last week I had lunch at my new favourite London hangout, the wine bar Terroirs which is run by a partnership including the quirky and original Caves de Pyrène. It's a place that you'll absolutely love if you're a Francophile: it feels just like a Parisien wine bar - without the surly service. The food is also cracking but as we'd resolved to kick off the new year by splitting a Vacherin Mont d'Or, as you can read on my cheese blog The Cheeselover, we didn't get a chance this time to sample chef Ed Wilson's robust bistro food.
In some cases it doesn’t matter what form an ingredient takes, if it’s present in a dish it dominates the match. So Claire Thomson of 5 o’clock apron’s innovative beef cheek and black rice arancini which she brought to a (very soggy) outdoor picnic last week hosted outside by wine importer Carte Blanche was just as good a pairing with a grenache as braised beef cheek would have been. In fact the dark nutty rice added an extra dimension which made it even more interesting.
Asparagus, it’s often said, is tough to match with wine, let alone a red, but this combination with a light, chilled Saumur Champigny at the re-opened Bell’s Diner in Bristol was a perfect pairing.
I know I talked about ox cheek a couple of weeks ago (with nero d’avola) but here it is again in an even better combination with Jumilla at a lunch hosted by wine importers Morgenrot at Bar 44 in Bristol.
Easter, like Christmas, is an occasion to feast with family and friends so we couldn’t mark it with a better prize than this fabulous meat box from prize-winning butcher Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
You may find the idea of making cocktails daunting but bar consultant Kate Hawkings says it's simply a question of stirring a couple of good ingredients in a glass. Here are four of her current favourites.
If you’re a fan of Spain’s fashionable white wine albarino you’ll almost certainly like its Portuguese cousin alvarinho which is made just over the border.
If you’re after a bright, fruity, sunshine-filled red to carry you through the dark, dreary days of winter you couldn't do better than this delicious Côtes du Rhône.
I don’t know about you but I’ve massively changed the way I shop for food this year. I still go to my favourite food shops in my home town of Bristol (we have some fantastic bakeries and I must go to my local greengrocer Reg the Veg at least three times a week) but like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been shopping more online too
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
We normally think of lunchboxes in terms of kids' packed lunches but James Ramsden has come up with this a brilliant book of imaginative dishes you can take to work. Called - appropriately enough - Love your Lunchbox.
I've been pouring over the pages of Ben Tish's lovely new book Sicilia - it has a really good selection of pasta recipes - and a friend and I decided to give this one a go. We didn't have whole almonds so we substituted ground almonds which made the sauce a bit gritty so follow Ben's recipe and don't make the same mistake!
No-one who hasn’t experienced a Greek Easter can imagine the scale of the feasting. Wine writer Ted Lelekas tells all about "the most lavish and important meal of the year".
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.
I’ve already suggested pinot noir as a good pairing for partridge so it was good to find the recommendation vindicated at lunch with Carolyn Martin of Creation Wines at 67 Pall Mall last week.
Last Thursday’s dinner to celebrate Decanter’s 2018 Man of the Year, Eduardo Chadwick of Viña Errazuriz was a treat - a line-up of the winery’s very best wines. It was obviously sound thinking to pair two of his top reds, the Don Maximiliano Founder’s Reserve 2014 and Kai 2005 with fillet of beef but I thought the more intriguing match was the first course of langoustine ravioli with their 2015 Las Pizarras chardonnay.
I wouldn’t have necessarily opened a bottle specifically to drink with Nigella’s crab mac’n’cheese but Biden had just won the presidency and it seemed like the right thing to do. And in fact it went brilliantly.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. Although I can’t imagine Christmas without port it seems crazy to deny ourselves the pleasure of drinking it at other times of year, doesn’t it? Well the clever people at Churchill’s have come up with the idea of an online port club which delivers a quarterly port pack of three of Churchill’s award-winning ports.
The quality of English and Welsh wines has increased immeasurably over the last few years which is reflected in the 245 medals they’ve picked up this year in the Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) awards which were judged this year by TV wine presenters Oz Clarke and Susie Barrie.
There are apparently only low stocks left of The Wine Society’s Exhibition Rioja Reserva 2017 which should encourage you to snap up a few bottles if you're a member.
One of the most interesting things that’s happening in wine at the moment is how big producers are pursuing new areas and old grape varieties and Planeta is no exception
There are so many interesting wines in Marks & Spencer’s new ‘Found’ range that it’s hard to single out the best, but as it’s Greek Easter this weekend I’m going for the two Greek ones.