Pairings | Cheese
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.
Ask most people what the best wine is with cheese and most would choose a full-bodied red. But is it really the best pairing? It depends on the wine, it depends on the cheese and it depends on you. If you LOVE red wine with cheese nothing is going to put you off the experience.
Wine and cheese are well known bedfellows but if you’re a beginner it might seem daunting to decide exactly which wine to choose for which cheese. This guide will quickly help you to get started pairing wine and cheese like a pro.
An edited version of a very interesting article written for the Oxford Wine Company's magazine by cheese expert Juliet Harbutt, organiser of the Great British Cheese Festival and author of The World Encyclopaedia of Cheese.
We automatically think of matching wine and cheese or beer and cheese but there are many drinks that work just as well and can give a real ‘wow factor’ to your cheeseboard.
Beer blogger Steve Lamond has been matching beer and cheese for the past seven years and has compiled an invaluable guide on his blog Beers I’ve Known. Hare are his 5 all-time favourites which include some cracking combinations.
The best wine to pair with macaroni cheese, or macaroni and cheese as our friends across the pond have it, depends how fancy - and how cheesy - your mac and cheese is.
Since goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are such a great match it might seem redundant to think of anything else but despite its reputation for being . . . well . . . goaty, goats cheese is easy to pair with other wines.
I’d been aware that cheese was a good match for whisky but it was good to have the opportunity to try several different styles and cheeses at a tasting recently.
You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.
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:
This has been one of the most popular food and wine pairings our team at Jascots has put together to date. Mac & cheese has taken the restaurant scene by storm and this month we cooked up a delectable version with three cheeses and a drizzling of truffle oil.
I’ve recently had the chance to taste through a range of wines and beers with Cheshire - Appleby’s Cheshire to be exact - so the hits and misses are fresh in my mind. As you probably know it’s a British territorial cheese with a crumbly texture and mellow flavour but quite a firm bite.
You may well have given a fair amount of thought by now to what you’ll be drinking with your turkey or goose and have set treasured bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy aside for the main Christmas meal. But what about all the other occasions over the festive period which these days tends to stretch a good 10 days into the early New Year?
Even if you're not currently on the slopes you might want to take your chance to make one of the great ski-food classics, fondue, raclette or tartiflette.
I have to thank my colleague drinks writer, wine guru and good time pal Kate Hawkings for this week's pairing. Once she squealed excitedly about it on Twitter I knew I had to drop by her restaurant (Bellita) and give it a try.
Roquefort cheese is unusual in having such a frequently recommended wine match (Sauternes) that you may wonder if it’s worth drinking anything else but depending how you serve it there are a number of other options.
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
For many people coffee is a regular companion to food whether it’s breakfast or that great German institution of kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) - only the amount of caffeine they might consume holding them back.
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.
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.
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
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.
Having spent a few days in the Auvergne recently and eaten more than my fair share of Saint Nectaire cheese with a variety of wines, mostly natural, here’s what I think works best.
Given the immense popularity of gin the chances of you sitting in a bar downing a gin-based cocktail are pretty high. But at some point you're going to need something to eat so what kind of food can you pair with it?
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
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
Amontillado sherry has richer, nuttier flavours than a classic fino or manzanilla sherry and calls for different food matches. Think more in terms of cured meat, game and cheese than seafood and richer, meatier tapas.
Wheat beers are fabulously flexible when it comes to food matching - the beer world’s equivalent of a crisp white wine.
Sauvignon blanc is many people's favourite wine but what type of food pairs with it best?
It struck me as slightly ironic that the best example of a food offering I’ve seen at a consumer tasting recently was the Food Pairing Room at this weekend’s Whisky Show - whisky being the last drink that many people would think of pairing with food.
Many people say they don't like chardonnay but as anyone who has a taste for top white burgundy or other premium new world chardonnays will know it’s a spectacular food wine.
White rioja is tricky when it comes to wine pairing as it comes in such contrasting styles. There are the crisp fresh unoaked white riojas which behave much like a sauvignon blanc and much richer barrel-fermented ones which can tackle more intensely-flavoured fish and meat dishes
Sauternes is a famously luscious sweet wine from the Bordeaux region of France but what kind of food should you pair with it?
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.
Lucy Bridgers reports on an elegant dinner matching different vintages of Domaine de l’Arlot burgundy with a seasonal spring menu
I’ve been a bit of a sceptic in the past about pairing food with whisky. Not that there aren’t some great combinations but I find it hard to sustain for more than one dish.
Whenever anyone talks about foods that are difficult to match with wine, asparagus always comes up but I reckon the problem is overstated.
Manzanilla, as you probably know, is a fino sherry made in the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda rather than in the cities of Jerez or Puerto de Santa Maria which gives it its characteristic salty tang.
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.
Tokaj or Tokaji Aszu from Hungary is one of the most historic and delicious dessert wines which now has it’s own dedicated day on December 10th but if you’re looking for the ideal food pairing you can take it much further than the dessert course.
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 how mature the cheese is.
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.
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list.
There was once no point in thinking about wine in the context of cauliflower. It was a vegetable. It was bland - except arguably in cauliflower cheese - but now it’s roasted, fried, spiced and partnered by other exotic and flavourful ingredients.
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.
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
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.
It’s the time of year to look back and review the best food and wine matches of 2011. Some were comfortingly familiar, some a total surprise to me. What they had in common was that the combination was more than the sum of the parts. The drink - in most cases wine - made the food taste more delicious, the food just made the wine sing. I hope you enjoy something similar in 2012.
No visit to Tuscany is complete without a glass of Vin Santo or ‘holy wine’, a (usually) sweet wine that is served at the end of the meal, almost always with hard little ‘cantucci’ biscuits.
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?
This week I was at Heathcotes Brasserie in Preston, Lancashire for a wine dinner for which I’d had to devise the wine matches. Paul Heathcote, the chef, is an old sparring partner and obviously thought he’d put me on the spot by coming up with some challenging dishes.
I don’t think I ever go to a sherry tasting without coming away renewed in my conviction about what a marvellous match it is for food and the one I attended yesterday was no exception. It was organised by the enterprising Les Caves de Pyrne who are importing for the first time into the UK some rare sherries from Emilio Hidalgo and took place at Dehesa, the sister (if that’s the appropriate word) restaurant of the better known Salt Yard.
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
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?
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 ...
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.
One of the reasons people most appreciate independent wine merchants is that they can talk to them about the kind of wine that will suit the meals or occasions they're planning.
If you're planning a special meal for Valentine's Day you may be wondering which wine to pair with your menu. I've picked some favourite Valentine's Day foods and suggested some matches that should work well with them.
With southern hemisphere wines from the 2016 vintage having been on the shelves for a few months now the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau has become less significant but you may still want to crack open a bottle today.
Cognac pairs with chocolate, we all know but what about cheese? Surprisingly there are some standout matches as I discovered when I chaired the cheese workshop at the 2014 International Cognac Summit in France a couple of years ago.
I’ve done a fair few cheese and wine tastings in my time but none quite as challenging as the one I did at the RAW natural wine fair last year matching natural wine with unpasteurised cheese.
An archived article, first published in 2008, about how great cheddar is made and the difference between Keen's and Montgomery
The question I’m often asked at this time of year is what makes the perfect Christmas cheeseboard. It’s as difficult a question as what makes the perfect Christmas lunch.
When you think how well apples go with cheese it’s amazing that cider isn’t the automatic go-to for a cheese board but as we discovered at Cheese School* earlier this month some work better than others with particular styles of cheese.
An archive post from a fascinating tasting with maître fromager, educator and author Max McCalman, one of the US's foremost cheese experts, back in 2009.
I was wondering which cheeses to suggest putting together for a Burns' Night cheeseboard and luckily thought to ask Patricia Michelson of London's famous La Fromagerie who came up with this brilliant selection.
Today my son Will and I did an artisan cheese and craft beer tasting at the Great British Beer Festival to promote our new book An Appetite for Ale (due out at the end of September. Hint.) It seemed to go down well so I thought it might be something you’d enjoy trying at home with your friends.
The cheese ball is an American party food classic. It's a little retro, but retro food is fun, and a cheese ball is the kind of thing you can easily posh up and adapt to use your favourite cheeses, herbs, and seasonings.
Those of you who are lucky enough to live in Oz have the enticing prospect of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival coming up next month - a two week extravaganza of feasts, workshops and tastings with some of the country's top foodies and wine experts.
With all the fuss about oysters and Guinness and boiled bacon and cabbage you may overlook what must be one of the best ways of celebrating St Patrick’s Day: an Irish cheeseboard.
If you’re a fellow cheese fan I hope you’ll forgive me blowing my own trumpet and pointing you to my latest book Fiona Beckett’s Cheese Course. Actually I don’t feel too bad about it because at least half its appeal is its quite gorgeous photography (by Richard Jung) and I can’t claim credit for that!
Chef Shaun Kenworthy reports on what he believes to be a unique tasting of Indian wine and Indian cheese.
Pairing cheese and wine was once a no-brainer. In that post-rationing era when the British were just rediscovering wine, and had no idea what to drink it with, cheese and wine evenings provided an answer. Cubes of Cheddar on cocktail sticks made the vin rouge taste a little nicer, and were a useful way of soaking up the alcohol.
Cheese is possibly not the first ingredient that comes to mind in terms of a Valentine’s Night celebration but think again and you realise there's no shortage of suitable candidates.
Cheese and champagne might not sound like natural bedfellows but if you think about the pairing for a moment you immediately realise they have quite a thing going. Many canapés - like gougères and cheese straws - are made with cheese for example and go wonderfully well with champagne but what about individual cheeses?
Despite my passion for cheese I’ve long been a believer that you don’t need to lay on a massive cheese board to enjoy it. You can just as easily (and more cheaply) serve a cheese plate.
Those of you who've looked up my recommendations on cheese before will have picked up that I'm not a big fan of large cheeseboards. Especially with red wine. But at Christmas people tend to expect them so how do you create as harmonious as match as possible?
I’ve always had a bit of a problem finding cheese matches for claret. 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 . . .
Yesterday I visited my local deli* which had - as it often does - a visiting producer handing out samples. In this case it was a Shropshire producer called Moydens which makes a delicious gooey blue called Wrekin Blue.
As with most cheeses the ideal pairing for cheddar depends how mature it is. A mild to medium block cheddar is going to be a lot easier to match (and in most cheeselovers’ eyes a lot less interesting) than a tangy cloth-bound cheddar of 18 months or more.
While I can usually find a great match for an individual cheese or for a careful selection it’s always a struggle to find a wine - particularly a red - that will take on all-comers. But I was reminded this weekend just how good a candidate mature Zinfandel is for this job. We found a bin end of Ridge’s Geyserville 2000 on the wine list of one of our favourite local restaurants at such a good price that we couldn’t resist it.
Last night I went back to The Greenhouse for the first time since its revamp, for dinner with its owner Marlon Abela and his head wine buyer Jean-Marc Heurlière.
If you're hosting a Hallowe'en supper tonight and wondering what to put on the cheeseboard, here are a few suggestions.
It’s still not widely recognised that white wines have the capacity to age, particularly wines that are noted for their freshness and bright acidity so it was fascinating to try a range of older wines from the Centre-Loire yesterday with a range of different cheeses.
It’s not only Roquefort and Sauternes that pair well together, other sheeps cheeses and sweet wines match well too as I discovered at the Evening of Cheese event I hosted at The Butlers Arms in Sutton Coldfield on Sunday
Cheese is so inextricably linked in my mind with beer and wine I sometimes forget there are other delicious pairings out there but coffee? Well, actually yes.
Last week I hosted a tasting for Wines of Rioja at Cambridge Wine Merchants. You never know quite how these things are going to work out on the day but happily most of the matches were spot on.
If you’re making a dish as simple as fondue you need to use top quality cheese. Emmental and Gruyère are traditional but once you’ve got the hang of it you can play around with other alternatives.
Whenever I see a producer is about to pair their best wine with cheese my heart sinks, particularly if the cheese is ripe and the wine red. But on this occasion - a tasting and lunch at the Quality Chop House - it worked.
A couple of years ago I went to a chutney-making demonstration and tasting. No, not at the WI - it was held by the family owned company Tracklements at leading London cheesemonger La Fromagerie which has recently expanded its empire into the neighbouring shop and now has a fancy new tasting room.
Given that it’s the run-up to Christmas I’ve been tasting (yes, tasting, not drinking!) a lot of port recently so have had some indulgent bottles to hand when the cheese comes out.
Marylebone High Street in central London has become a mecca for foodies in the last few years but the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly Patricia Michelson’s La Fromagerie, a glorious jumble of a shop that sells everything from cheese (obviously) to chocolate, via honeys and herbal infusions.
We tend to get stuck in a bit of a groove when it comes to serving cheese, picking five or six and serving them on a big cheeseboard but if you’re serious about trying to find a good wine match that isn’t the best strategy.
Hard sheep’s cheeses are the winelover’s friend.
I spend a lot of my time trying to discourage people from drinking their favourite red wine with a cheeseboard because it's so often a disappointment but every now and again you come across a red wine and cheese combination that really works.
A classic starter from the ‘70’s but one that our customers seem to enjoy every bit as much today. This version originally came from a book called Take Twelve Cooks and was one of Pru Leith’s recipes. However Stephen Bull attributes it to Peter Kromberg of Le Soufflé at the Intercontinental who was also featured in the book . . .
After last week's Muscat pairing my match of the week oddly involves Muscat again, this time a sweet Muscat Petits Grains from South Africa with the romantic name of Heaven-on-Earth. The grapes are apparently dried on a bed of straw and rooibos tea, a flavour I couldn't really pick up in the wine but it was very attractive nonetheless with an lovely quince and apricot flavour.
Last week I had the greatest cheese and wine tasting I’ve ever experienced conducted by France’s most famous affineur Bernard Antony who supplies cheese to most of France’s top chefs. You’ll have to wait till the article comes out in Decanter in a couple of months’ time for the full details but here’s a star match to whet your appetite.
I’ve always been a bit of a cheese fiend so it’s great to collaborate this month with one of my favourite cheeses Reblochon, a French cheese that’s used to make the wickedly decadent après-ski dish tartiflette. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
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.
As those of you who follow me on Twitter (as winematcher) will know I’ve been in New York this week and have a huge number of interesting wine and other matches to tell you about but the most unexpectedly successful - and therefore my pairing of the week - was a match of macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling.
When I flicked through the pictures I’d taken of the wines I’d drunk over Christmas and the New Year I realised there was a LOT of champagne. Partly because I’d been given or shared some rather nice bottles but equally because champagne goes with practically everything from oysters to shepherds pie (as the novelist Jeffrey Archer famously established).
I don’t often pair red wine with cheese, let alone make it my match of the week but the Italian cheeseboard I had the other day at Bocca di Lupo in Soho proved a great pairing for a highly unusual Provencal red
As those of you who are familiar with this site will know I’ve got issues about drinking red wine with cheese. It may seem an obvious partnership but all too often it seems a warring one.
You know that port goes with Stilton, right? Well, here’s another good variation on the pair-sweet-wines-with-blue-cheese rule: a glass of Vin Santo and a creamy Gorgonzola.
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)?
Despite the freak flurries of snow and sub arctic temperatures last week spring has officially arrived and with it longer daylight hours and a switch to lighter eating. For me there’s no combination that reflects the season better than goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, one of the great classic food and wine pairings.
I was beginning to think we’d managed to skip winter this year before last week’s icy blasts and snow came as a timely reminder we’ve got a good few weeks to go yet. So there’s still time to enjoy one of winter’s great favourites - a Swiss cheese fondue.
I suppose I shouldn’t say this coming from the West Country but I often forget about cider when I’m thinking about cheese pairings. Not that I don’t enjoy it but there always seem more complex drinks with a wider range of flavours to experiment with.
It’s been a very cheesy few days this past week - and I mean that in the sense of being cheese-focussed rather than corny.
This is the kind of recipe (or rather idea) that I used to put on my old blog The Frugal Cook. But as I’ve given up on it (I know - I shouldn’t have done) I’m posting it here.
Despite the fact that white and sweet wines go just as well with cheese as red wine the idea persists that red is the better pairing
This is one of the many enticing recipes in The Orchard Cook, a beautifully illustrated book I was sent by photographer and food writer Stuart Ovenden and which provides inspiring ideas as to what to do with autumnal fruits such as apples, pears and quince.
We Brits don’t have a long tradition of washed-rind cheeses but we have a true champion in the aptly named Stinking Bishop, which shot to worldwide fame when it was featured in the Wallace & Gromit film. But can any wine (or other drink) stand up to it?
This might not have been the best match of the week - that honour goes to the turbot and orange wine pairing I experienced at Ellory which I’ve already written up here - but it’s the one that’s easiest to replicate at home.
The other evening I had an interesting session with a few food bloggers matching Davidstow cheddar for which I’d been asked to come up with some drink pairings*. My task was to talk about the wine. The company’s Head Grader Mark Pitts-Tucker brought along a couple of Cornish ales - Sharp’s Doombar and St Austell Tribute.
Despite the emphasis that winemakers place on the different crus or terroirs of Chablis three factors seem to me to influence a food match more than any other for most of the Chablis you’ll taste - the age of the wine, the vintage and the degree of oak influence, if any.
This week’s pairing is a short (and I imagine welcome) respite from Christmas fare - a wine we enjoyed with a number of small dishes yesterday lunchtime at a natural wine bar, Toast in East Dulwich.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week and two bottles - both Syrah - have impressed me for very different reasons. One was an inexpensive but characterful Ressac Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah which we bought from the co-op at Florensac, Vinopolis, after eating at their showcase restaurant Bistrot d’Alex which I’ve mentioned on the site before. The other a much classier bottle called Clos du Fou (the 2004 vintage) from a local Faugères winemaker Château des Estanilles which bore comparison with a Côte Rôtie.
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook - perfect for this time of year.
This is the most interesting and original wine and cheese pairing of the four* I devised for my talks at the Bristol Wine and Food Fair over the weekend. I wanted to come up with a variation on the usual port and Stilton combo and this was it.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that most chefs would be pretty good at food and wine matching, not least French chefs. Well, you’d be wrong! I’m constantly shocked by the number of chefs who haven’t the faintest idea what wine goes best with their recipes or indeed, who drink wine at all. (Some of them possibly because they’ve, er hem, enjoyed it a bit too much in the past . . . )
Of all the things I eat at Jose Pizarro's lovely tapas bar José, the croquetas are my favourite. Here's a recipe for the spinach ones from his brilliant book Basque.
A lovely serving suggestion from Trine Hahnemann's inviting book Scandinavian Christmas. The preserved plums couldn't be simpler.
This match last week at 45 Jermyn St had EVERYTHING going for it starting with a decadent toasted cheese sandwich lavishly scattered with grated white truffle. What could be better? Well, actually a glass of very decent champagne (Louis Roederer Brut premier) with it - one of those matches made in heaven where the whole is better than the sum of the parts.
We’ve been feasting on figs from our neighbours' fig tree in Grau d’Agde down in the Languedoc this weekend - all the more satisfying as I gather that back home Waitrose is currently selling them at 99p each.
After a recent visit to the Jura I've rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
Epoisses has to be one of the most difficult cheeses to match, not least when it gets to the almost liquid stage shown in this photo (a stage too far IMHO)
Five inspiring ideas from my recent trip to Toronto for home or professional cooks.
The hardest cheeses to match are washed rind cheeses - those stinky, orange rinded ones like Epoisses - but last week I found a new pairing: a 3 year old cider brandy.
Visitors to this website will be used to my recommending white wine with cheese by now but I didn’t anticipate how good this particular combination would be.
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.
The news that Bristol was to stage its own food festival may have struck you as a bit of a yawn. After all every self-respecting city has a food festival these days, peppered with visiting celebrity chefs and food personalities.
So sophisticated is the South African food and drink scene now that you can expect to find suggested wine pairings at practically every restaurant you go to but some wine farms have made even more of a feature of their skill at combining the two - a fun way of learning the art of matching food and wine.
Two matches for the price of one this week - both killer pairings at our Christmas Cheese School* last week.
There were many great pairings to pick from in Chablis last week but the one I’m going for is a cheese I was relatively unfamiliar with: Soumaintrain
We rarely think of tawny port as a flexible pairing for food. We serve it with stilton, obviously and with hard cheeses like cheddar, with nuts and dried fruits and over Christmas with fruit cake and mince pies but that’s usually as far as it goes.
Last week we had one of our periodic Cheese Schools - an event where we explore the best artisanal British cheeses and pair different drinks with them. A regular feature is a beer vs wine ‘smackdown’ but I sneaked in this amazing Blenheim Superb dessert cider* from Once Upon a Tree with the pud.
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!
With the sun shining and the World Cup just a week away what could be better than a South African-style braai. Let alone one that involves a pie . . .
Having been on Islay for the jazz festival all weekend I've been thinking about nothing but whisky and jazz but there is as good a combination : Islay whisky and strong blue cheese
Port and cheese is one of those combinations that hardly needs questioning but there are some variants on the theme that still have the ability to surprise as I discovered when I worked my way through a selection of Taylor's ports and Paxton & Whitfield cheeses the other day.
Vermouth probably isn't the first thing you would think of pairing with cheese but this combination I enjoyed at our local wine bistro Flinty Red in Bristol the other night was just dazzling.
With the icy weather it’s been a week for staying duvet-wrapped indoors as much as possible so I haven’t encountered my usual range of stimulating food and wine matches but this was a top one, facilitated by my friends Todd and Jess of cheesemongers Trethowan's Dairy.
Cheese and wine is always a bit of a minefield so it’s good to find a partnership that works really well. This was one of six pairings laid on for the launch of the Bristol Wine and Food Fair which takes place next month (and at which I’m holding a number of Cheese and Wine Masterclasses, so do come along).
With the first serious snow of the season you may be craving après-ski food but lack the time, energy or ingredients to rustle up a fondue or tartiflette.
Malbec has got so popular it may have become one of your favourite red wines but what are the best kind of dishes to pair with it?
I know we always think in terms of wine and cheese but sometimes other drinks can be just as good, if not better. Like this week’s pairing of medium-dry cidre traditionnel and Camembert I came across at a simple roadside restaurant just north of Domfront in Normandy.
If I were to tell you I was seriously excited about the pairing of a supermarket sherry with a supermarket cheese you'd probably think I'd totally lost it - but hang on a moment.
The usual bombardment of hearts and flowers that heralds Valentine’s Day is bound to make anyone who doesn’t have a Valentine feel a bit out of it. But there’s no reason not to enjoy yourself . . .
Does the temperature at which you serve a dish affect the wine pairing? Matt Walls investigates:
If you've ever toyed with the idea of buying a wood-fired oven Genevieve Taylor's new book The Ultimate Wood Fired Oven Cookbook should persuade you. (And it didn't even cost a fortune. She built it herself!)
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 sharp-eyed among you will notice that my recommendations have changed since I posted this article earlier today. I've revised my opinion since retasting Cornish Blue which I found in my local deli - Arch House Deli.
Caerphilly - or, to be more precise - Gorwydd Caerphilly which is made by my mates Jess and Todd Trethowan of Trethowan's Dairy - is probably the cheese I know best. And there’s one absolutely outstanding match for it . . .
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 . . .
No Christmas would be complete without a slice of Stilton or its unpasteurised cousin Stitchelton. But what to drink with it? The usual answer is port - and that of course is classic - but here are some other drinks that make great pairings
The most hyped restaurant launch this year, Bubbledogs, which opened this week in London’s Fitzrovia has naturally focussed on the hot dogs but of equal significance, I reckon, are the ‘bubbles’ or champagnes that they serve.
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.
This recipe, the subject of my Match of the Week, was so delicious I've persuaded Christine Smallwood, whose lovely book An Appetite for Lombardy it comes from, to share it on the site.
Although you can find any kind of recipe online these days nothing beats a beautiful cookbook and the new Fern Verrow book by Herefordshire farmers Jane Scotter and Harry Astley is one you're definitely going to want to own.
Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year so if you’re vegetarian yourself or cooking for one here are some perfect pairings for some delicious festive recipes from the web.
Hot on the heels of its best ever medal tally in the International Wine Challenge, English wine is under the spotlight again this week which has been designated English Wine Week. It was sparkling wines that did particularly well in the Challenge but I have a soft spot for a variety called Bacchus, a white wine with a refreshing, sappy hedgerow freshness, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc. Camel Valley in Cornwall makes a particularly good version.
It’s a tribute to the sheer joie-de-vivre of the Irish that we regard St Patrick’s Day with much more enthusiasm than St George’s, St Andrew’s or St David’s Days (the patron saints for England, Scotland and Wales for those of you who aren’t into your saints). So your friends are going to be more than pleased to be invited to celebrate it with you.
Sometimes a good story is all it takes to make you buy a bottle and who could resist a beer that makes use of food waste - unused bread in the case of Toast?
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 ;-)
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
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.
If you fancy baking something easy for the family this weekend try this delicious savoury bread from Claire Thomson's just-published National Trust Family Cookbook.
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.
This weekend I’ve been down at my favourite food festival in Dartmouth where I’ve been giving a number of wine talks. One of them was a forum on food and wine matching with wine writer and TV presenter Susy Atkins and former sommelier and wine supplier Tim McLoughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice.
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.
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.
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?
How many of you will be putting beer on the table at Christmas? Not that many, I suspect, but if you can bring yourself to break with tradition you could be in for a treat. Most supermarkets now carry a sufficiently wide range for you to be able to serve a different beer with each course, should you be so minded. And here’s how to do it:
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.
While orange wines are becoming more common I’m still not sure most people know when and with what to drink them so here’s a pairing that worked really well from a dinner I hosted for Bar Buvette, one of my favourite Bristol haunts, last 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.
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.
The idea of matching a soup with a full-bodied south-western French red wine might seem bizarre but it proved a surprisingly good pairing.
It’s always a bit hairy doing a live food and wine pairing if you haven’t had a chance to have a run-through first - and even if you have some variable, usually the food, invariably changes.
I don't normally run commercial recipes but this comes from an enterprising new cookbook from a brewery I really like called Thornbridge with recipes from chef Richard Smith.
Of course it depends what type of IPA you're talking about. A relatively light style will lead you in a different direction from a huge, hoppy double IPA, but these I think would be my top five . . .
The book I’ve been looking forward to most so far this year has just started being serialised in the Guardian today. It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi who founded two exceptional London restaurants and is simply called Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. l love Ottolenghi's food - it’s so generous and big-flavoured, piled high on bright, colourful platters - you can't fail to be tempted by it. It also lends itself perfectly to entertaining for large numbers at home.
Moussaka cries out for a red but not too powerful a one otherwise the effect will be to add to the richness of the dish. (Cooked cheese, by the way, is much easier with red wine than uncooked cheese is).
This week's pairing is for all those of you who are having a dry January this month (although here’s why I’m not).
I've taken recently to combining my salad course and cheese course. Over the years, influenced by the time we've spent in France, we've picked up the habit of following our main course with a salad and nowadays I prefer - and it's cheaper - to eat one cheese at a time.
This is one of those rare weeks where I’ve come across four brilliant pairings that could have made the ‘match of the week’ slot but as it’s St Patrick’s Day tomorrow and I haven’t done a beer for a while I’ll go for the topical one.
I’m a bit obsessed with orange wine* at the moment. It seems to go with so many things not least blue cheese as this match with gorgonzola at Le Baratin in Paris underlined.
Signe Johansen recently competed in - and won - a food bloggers challenge to come up with the perfect dish for a Casillero del Diablo Chilean Cabernet. Here’s how she went about it. (You can find the recipe for the winning dish, Pigeon breast and chocolate mole with redcurrants and parmesan mash here.)
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'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):
I ordered this amazing soup at one of my favourite local Bristol restaurants Wallfish (now Wallfish & Wellbourne) and begged the recipe from the chef, Seldon Curry. It's tastes like the sweetest of oniony fondues and is soooo delicious.
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.
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.
This week is National Pie Week in the UK - not that we Brits need much encouragement to eat pies. But which is the better match - wine or beer?
I was sure I was going to be featuring the splendidly retro Brown Windsor Soup and Madeira as my match of the week this week - a combination suggested by Ben Austin of number1wino for the underground supper club I went to on Friday - but sadly I left the Madeira at home by mistake. (Ben, who went the following night, said it was a treat.)
The port and Stilton combo has become a bit of a cliché. Not that it doesn't work - it's hard to fault - but if you want to really impress your guests and take them out of their comfort zone, serve your stilton with a shot of sloe gin instead. It has much the same brambly flavour as a Late Bottled Vintage port but, despite being stronger, manages to taste lighter, fresher and less alcoholic.
With just over three weeks to Christmas - and even less time to order the Christmas wine if you haven’t already done so - it’s time for us laggards to focus on what we’re going to be drinking and that’s what I’m going to be doing this week.
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.
The English - and very delicious - way with pancakes is to serve them with granulated sugar and lemon (a dessert that pairs well with gently sparkling, sweet Asti or Moscato d’Asti). But an even better match is the French - or more specifically Breton - tradition of serving savoury pancakes with sparkling cider, a vastly underrated drink.
A slightly obscure pairing this week from the Lombardy region of Italy, the focus for an absolutely brilliant pop-up supper I went to at Wild Artichokes in Kingsbridge last Friday.
Although chardonnay is grown practically everywhere that grows grapes (with notable exceptions such as Bordeaux) it’s not a variety you may associate with Italy. But the country produces some fine examples and Isole e Olena’s Collezione Privata is one.
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)
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.
The last few days I’ve been eating and drinking my way around Piedmont - the perfect time of year as the region’s fabled white truffles are in season.
I’ve spent the last 3 days in the Veneto at a prosecco festival called Vino in Villa (yup, alright for some, but if it’s any consolation the weather hasn’t been as good as it has in the UK)
If anyone can make Aperol - the Venetian Campari drinkalike - fashionable it's Russell Norman of Polpo, Polpetto, Spuntino and now Da Polpo - four of the coolest (and smallest) restaurants in London. Admittedly bitters are not to everyone's taste - they are...well...bitter but I find Aperol fruitier and easier to drink than Campari. The traditional way to serve it as as an Aperol spritz topped up with Prosecco and a whoosh of soda water - the perfect way to recover when the Tube is at its hellish steamy worst.
I’ve been in Vienna for the past few days so couldn’t really avoid eating asparagus. Not that I wanted to. Austria’s white asparagus is one of the highlights of the spring and early summer so we grabbed any opportunity we could to wolf it.
After the excesses of the Christmas period I always reckon January drinking should be about quality rather than quantity with a small sip of something strong and flavourful being infinitely preferable to several glasses of something weak and bland.
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.
The mere idea of sprout juice may be enough to send the sprout-haters among you running for cover but I have to say I think Marks & Spencer is onto a winner here.
Today, if you weren’t aware, is the first day of Organic September, a month-long celebration of organic food and drink. So maybe a good opportunity to explore organic wine.
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.
A simple lunch of quiche from leftovers thrown together from the fridge turned into a feast with a glass of Claire and Fabien Chasselay's Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois, an organic Beaujolais from the excellent 2009 vintage.
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.
For those whose courgettes (zucchini) just won't stop producing here's the perfect way to use them from Tom Hunt's lovely book The Natural Cook.
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 . . .
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.
In London the trend was started by Rowley Leigh and picked up on by Paul Merrony of the Giaconda Dining Room*. The return of hors d’oeuvres, that tasty little selection of small dishes that preceded tapas but which had fallen from favour along with many other elements of French bistro cuisine.
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).
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.
This past week has reminded me yet again what a great match Italian whites are for food. Their lack of obvious character means they tend not to stand out in a tasting but they explode into life with a dish.
I came across this pairing at a dinner to launch the London Restaurant Festival. It was held at Nuno Mendes Loft Project, a permanent East London pop-up - if there is such a thing - where he normally hosts visiting chefs of a similarly experimental bent. Mendes is one of the most talented chefs in London at the moment and normally cooks at nearby Viajante in Bethnal Green which I reviewed here.
There’s only one pairing I could focus on this week given that I was in Piemonte and that is white truffles. What was the best match? Incredibly hard to say!
Even if you're not a fan of the blockbuster style of Chardonnay still favoured by many producers you have to admit it meets its match in butternut squash. Why? Because the rich sweetness of the squash kicks the sometimes over-exuberant tropical fruit and vanilla-scented oak into touch and magically transforms them into an elegant, refreshing glassful.
It’s not often that you come across a wine match that’s as successful as it’s unexpected but sommelier Ruth Spivey’s pairing of a fruity Monferrato chiaretto rosato (aka rosé) from Piedmont with a dish of burrata, pressed watermelon and pickled fennel at Arbutus the other night was spot on - and all the more impressive given that she hadn’t had a chance to taste the combination beforehand.
Last week I was in Piemonte exploring the world of vermouth with Roberto Bava of Cocchi. I discovered many startlingly good pairings about which more about in due course but the one I was most intrigued by was their Alta Langa sparkling wine with pizza, not a combination I would have expected at all.