Over the years we have repeated old fables, wives’ tales and that story that your granny used to tell, and we believed it to be the gospel truth. In some cases, it really was, but not everything you hear on the grapevine is in fact true.
For me the most notorious one I hear all the time is….
‘You should only pair white wine with fish and red with dark meat!’
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that this is incorrect. It is just that it doesn’t have to be this way and this way only. There are some superb versions of pairing really weird and wonderful combinations of food and drink. Take Indian curries for example, the grape variety Shiraz lends itself incredibly well to the heat and spices of your favourite Balti. Most would head straight for a cold pint of lager; I urge you to give the red wine a go next time you go out. You will be pleasantly surprised at how well it works.
So why do we pair food and wine?
A number of wines on the market are classed as ‘Food Wines’. This quite literally means they drink better with food. The style and grape varieties have certain characteristics that marry to specific flavours in food better than others might. You may find some wines are too heavy on your palate drunk without food and it instantly makes you think it isn’t for you. There is a high probability that you may enjoy it with a certain dish. Take a creamy, buttery oak aged Chardonnay for example. Drinking on its own is not always the most enjoyable experience, pair however, with a creamy pork dish, and hey presto.
Most people would drink Champagne on its own as an aperitif but many don’t know that it is also excellent with sea food. It all boils down to the way that the high acidity and bubbles in the Champagne break through the fattiness and greasy side of the nation’s favourite dish! Champagne and sparkling wine can elevate seafood dishes because of the crisp nature of the wine complementing the savory and mild sweet flavours of the seafood.
My top 5 food pairings with some amazing wines from House of Townend:
Braised Derbyshire Lamb, Garlic and Herbed Roast Potatoes, Glazed Honey Carrots, Yorkshire Pudding and lashings of Gravy goes perfect with our Rioja Vega Crianza. This particular wine can stand up to the fattiness in the lamb with its fruit driven Rioja vibes and soft oak ageing. A really superb wine for your money.
A top tier Thai Green Chicken Curry needs something with a little extra umpf from the floral side of wine. What better than a classic Gewürztraminer with its exotic flavours of mango, and lychee and a nose to rival a good rose garden! Our Dopff and Irion is one of my personal favorites in our selection.
Dust off the BBQ and polish those grills it is nearly time to get the coals fired up. That is to say if we have a proper summer… fingers crossed! Naturally when you are out cooking on the patio there is this lovely smell of smoke wafting around when the steaks get thrown on. A superb wine to accompany this for me would be Big Beltie Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich and ripe blackcurrant with a peppery smoky hit too. This one is not to be missed. It is superb value for money.
Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables is one of those all-time favourites in our house. The smell alone when it is cooking always gets a comment. I get the same sense from freshly mown grass, or the honeysuckle on a warm night. A Chenin Blanc would be my choice here because it is typically quite high in minerality with good tang! This balances well with the caramelised sweetness of the roasted vegetables. A bargain is our Mineralium Chenin Blanc or if you want to turn it up a notch the Avondale Estate Anima Chenin Blanc from South Africa is just awesome!
Lastly what meal would be complete without the sweet. I am not a massive chocolate fan. It is always bread and butter pudding and custard for me. A semillon dessert wine would hit the spot to finish off. Think honey! The Barossa Mistelle Semillon by Jo Irvine in Australia will turn anyone on to drinking dessert wine. A crowd-pleasing style that not many people would normally enjoy.
At the end of the day there are no rules when it comes to wine and food. But some things just work better than others. The right wine with dinner can change the whole experience. Make sure the next time you are hosting, leave a space on the shopping list for the perfect wine.
Regional Accounts Manager
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