Pairings | 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.
The best wine to pair with appetizers and hors d'oeuvres rather depends on whether they precede a meal, as is traditional, or, as is the way now, actually ARE the meal. We all seem to enjoy grazing these days.
There’s one wine that’s invariably recommended as a pairing for duck and that is Pinot Noir but of course duck, like any other meat, can be cooked in different ways. How does that affect the wine match?
Should you drink wine or beer with pizza? No rights or wrongs, obviously but here are a few thoughts which might encourage you to experiment.
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?
You may already have your own favourite wine pairing for turkey but if you're looking for inspiration here are some wines that I think go with turkey best.
I wouldn’t have thought of proferring wine pairings for garlic cheesy bread had I not stumbled across the fact that it was the most re-pinned image on Pinterest.
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?
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.
Few people now throw up their hands in horror at the idea of matching red wine with fish. But how many realise just how often you can pair the two?
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.
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
Although it seems similar in style to Brie, Camembert is a trickier cheese to pair with a slightly funky edge that can clash with many wines, particularly reds.
Monkfish (or lotte, as the French call it) is a meaty fish that is often roasted so pairs equally well with red wine as with white. In fact a lightly chilled red wine would generally be my preferred match, particularly if it’s wrapped in pancetta or bacon
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.
If you're serving a ham or gammon as a roast this Christmas you need a more substantial wine with it than when you serve ham as a cold cut. Which one depends on the glaze.
For those unfamiliar with the delicacy a scotch egg is a whole egg wrapped in sausagemeat, then coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Traditionally the egg would have been hard boiled but more recently the fashion has been to serve them soft and even runny like this version from the Opera Tavern. And in some cases - presumably in a vain attempt to make them more healthy - they’re now baked which is wrong on every level.
One of the world's most popular cheeses, Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour so you need to adapt the wine - or other drink - you choose to pair with it to how mature the cheese is.
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.
Italian wines with olive oil-based dishes, Bordeaux with butter-based ones. Sound like a no-brainer? Well, yes, if you happen to be in either region: you obviously drink the local wine with the local food. But just think for a moment about today’s top international restaurants.
You may be unconvinced about the wisdom of incorporating chilli into achocolate cheesecake, let alone accompanying it with Merlot but bear with me!
Those of you who visit the site regularly will know that I’m a great advocate of drinking white wine with cheese and a bit of a sceptic about how well red wine pairs with it.
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.
South African reds are on a roll right now but few are better value than this elegant Bordeaux style red from Majestic.
Tomorrow the annual Fairtrade Fortnight starts in the UK. I wish I could get more enthusiastic about Fairtrade wine but so many of them are underwhelming. Happily this wine which is made in South Africa is an exception: not mindblowing - you wouldn’t expect that for £5 - but a more than decent bottle for the price.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
A recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai opened my eyes anew to the possibilities involved in drinking wine with Chinese food. Many of the conclusions we have painstakingly arrived at in the west turn out to be less obvious when tried out in situ.
I’ve thought for a while that Scandinavian food is on the way up so am not surprised to find another new cookbook on the subject from Trina Hahnemann who Telegraph cookery writer Xanthe Clay dubs ‘Denmark’s answer to Nigella’ in the paper today.
A fair bit gets written - including by yours truly - about pairing wine with turkey but what type of drinks go best with the Christmas ham?
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.
This week is British Cheese Week - and, by the looks of it, the start of autumn proper - so what better time to rustle up a macaroni cheese (or mac and cheese as they call it in the US)?
Q I am the best man at a wedding and agreed to provide the wine for the head table. The couple is serving a soy, ginger salmon and chicken dish (i assume you get a choice). Any thoughts?
Wine writer Stuart Walton casts a sceptical eye over accepted wisdom:
An elegant main course recipe* from one of my favourite food writers Sue Lawrence's A Cook’s Tour of Scotland that would be a great option for a haggis-free Burns' Night supper.
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
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.
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.
If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.
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 . . .
Few these days dispute that red wine goes with fish - it’s just a question of which wine and how the fish is cooked. Most would accept ‘meaty' steak lookalikes like grilled or spiced tuna or salmon work with Pinot Noir but would hesitate to take it much further than that but last week I found a couple of surprisingly good fish matches at one of my favourite new wine bars 28-50.
A bit of a departure with the turkey this Christmas - a magnum of Chivite Coleccion 125 from Navarra we unearthed in a cellar sort-out the other day. It's based on Tempranillo with a proportion of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon - I'm not sure what the percentages were that year - but was probably at the optimum moment for drinking - the fruit still bright but super-smooth and beautifully in balance.
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)
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.
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
The first thing to bear in mind about Thanksgiving - and for that matter Christmas - is that it’s as much about mood as food. Who you’re inviting, what age they are and how big your party is are factors every bit as important as what you’re eating.
Before we finally plunge into winter here's a late autumn supper menu from my book Food, Wine and Friends that combines the best of autumn’s produce with a couple of convenience products.
Here's a barbecue I've dug out of the archives - a middle-eastern inspired BBQ from my book Food, Wine and Friends.
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.
Only a merchant with a pedigree like Berry Bros & Rudd could consider an £8.45 bottle a ‘house wine’ but if your usual fare is classed growth claret I guess it is.
Everyone knows that artichokes are one of the most difficult ingredients to match with wine - especially with red wine. Only last weekend we struggled to find a pairing at the food matching forum I was taking part in.
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.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem finding cheese matches for red Bordeaux. Cheddar is often suggested but I find mature versions have too much ‘bite'. Stilton slays it and so do most washed rind cheeses, oozy Camemberts and Bries . . .
OK, this is one of the most classic wine pairings in the world but none the worse for that.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week, revisiting some of the winemakers we haven’t seen for a while. They included Domaine de l’Arjolle, one of the first wineries we bought from when we bought a holiday home down here in the early 1990s.
It’s easy to be so cocky about a wine pairing that you cease to leave your mind open to other possibilities. So duck has always led me to burgundy (or other pinot noir) rather than Bordeaux. But last week’s spectacular meal with Château Le Puy at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught convinced me that mature Bordeaux can be just as delicious an option.