Posts in Category "Food and Wine Pairing"
Our Cheese and wine nights at Victoria Park, run with The Deli Downstairs, continue to be very popular. And the more we hold, the more killer matches we find. Here's a couple of belters.
No self-respecting Italian (well not those who attended our last Italian night) would dream of pairing Vin Santo with Taleggio. Geography gets in the way. But they match like a dream: the creme caramel aftertatste of our 2003 Orcia Vin Santo by Siminelli Santi (£32 for 50cl) merges beautifully with the nutty creaminess of the cheese.
Our 2001 Torcolato by Beate Bartolomeo (£24 for 50cl) is a mature sweet wine; not super sweet but with a lovely marmalade character which makes it just right for the more friendly blue cheeses, and some of the gooier nutty creamy cheeses too. We have it with Gorgonzola Dolce and it's pretty much perfect, turning the "blue" all fruity and soft.
We’re big on food and wine matching here at Bottle Apostle; not only is it an enjoyable challenege, in addition a large proportion of our customers come in with a particular dish on the menu and ask for a suitable bottle. So we get plenty of practice.
We do notice that two particular types of recommendation can cause looks of fear and trepidation. Firstly we have the scenario in which the customer is cooking something spicy with a bit of chilli heat. It takes some doing to convince people that a wine with a bit of sweetness is the way to go. Something like the Framingham Classic Riesling 2008 from Marlborough (£13.80) is off-dry but for many who taste it it’s the fruitiness rather than the sweetness which jumps out. But there is enough sweetness to dampen down chilli heat, and what’s more the citrusy flavour makes it a great match for not only Thai dishes, but also the legendary Tandoori pork chops from Tayyabs in Whitechapel. By the way, any Kiwi Riesling with the word “Classic” on the label is likely to be off-dry.
The other point of contention is oak. People tend to try oaked wines (most commonly Chardonnay) on their own, without food, and evaluate them as aperitifs. Then they come to one of our tastings or cheese and wine nights and get a really pleasant surprise. I promise you an oaky Chardonnay, such as Mahi Twin Valleys 2009 Marlborough (£16.90 and a belter) is the best cheese all-rounder; very good with hard cheeses such as Manchego or Cheddar, brilliant with something like a Tomme where the nuttiness of the cheese melds with the caramel of the oak, and also superb with Stilton. In fact I recommend having a pork chop with Stilton on top just to try this out. An oaked Sauvignon such as the Reyneke Estate White 2009 from Stellenbosch (£24.00) is just as good. Nuttier, waxy oaked whites such as Minervois and Cotes du Roussillon aren’t quite as flexible with cheese but come into their own when a plate of cold meats and sausage is plonked onto the table. Then there’s fish pie, scallops and pancetta, white meats in creamy sauces...
Following on from our successful run of dinners with Ben Greeno we have just completed a trio of events with James Lowe, formerly head chef at St John Bread & Wine, Spitalfields. We got very positive feedback on the wines served and how they matched the food, and so thought it would be useful to communicate those pairings to the world at large.
Radishes, Trevise, Fennel & Anchovy
Champagne Gallimard Brut Réserve (£24.50)
Very primary bold, raw nibbles, and so we went for what is effectively our house bubbly. It’s 100% Pinot Noir but not labelled as a Blanc de Noirs, presumably as the style is much more restrained than that designation might imply. Still it has enough rounded fruit for these ingredients; a better bet than a zippy, minerally Chardonnay-based wine.
Razor Clam & Sorrel
Ribeiro 2009 Coto de Gomariz (£15.00)
This Galician wine is a brilliant seafood allrounder and gained several comments of “perfect match”. The sorrel element in this dish was served as a liquefied sauce, and added a strong green leafy element to the flavours. Accordingly I would not serve an Albarino because the emphasis there is on apricot; the Ribeiro being a blend of several grapes has a green element to it (I often use colours to describe aromas) and so pairs more successfully.
Raw Rib, Oyster & Chickweed
Maranges 1er Cru La Fussière 2007 Bruno Colin (£23.00)
James served this dish on all three menus as it got such a strongly positive reaction. The dish consists of shreds of raw beef served with greenleaves; with a wow factor added by an emulsion of oyster, piped onto the meat in small dots. I chose a tangy red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) partly to balance the white/red ratio in the meal. But the acidity and tangy cherry fruit contrasted very well with the fat in the beef, whilst not overpowering the subtle flavours.
Duck Egg, Alliums & Mustard
Türk Erlesenes vom Grünen Veltliner 2008 Niederösterreich (£19.00)
With the Marange being relatively light it meant we could go back to a white for the next course. Alliums are the family containing onions, leeks and garlic. Austria’s Grüner Veltliner is a great match for these; this example is a richer version which helped compliment the egg (low temperature egg yolk).
Old Spot Belly, Cauliflower & Broccoli
Ribera del Duero 2006 Dominio Romano (£29.50)
This Tempranillo is just a rung or two below full bodied with good acidity to cut through the fatty meat. You would not want a totally full bodied wine with this.
Cheesecake, Rhubarb & Ginger Crumb
Moscatel Emelín Dulce, Lustau (£11 half)
Many books suggest heavy with heavy, light with light when it comes to dessert wines. But often a contrast is better. Spanish Moscatel sherry will usually match any dessert that you could imagine pouring caramel sauce over – eg. a vanilla pudding, or fresh fruit. This worked very well, complementing the cheesecake and contrasting the rhubarb.
by Tom at Bottle Apostle
Some of our most successful events are our “Something Fishy” evenings, held with John and Brendan from Jonathan Norris Fishmongers on the other side of the roundabout from us. The boys are as keen about their product as we are, and really good cooks as well.
Each evening features 4 sea creatures (perhaps shellfish / squid / flatfish / round fish): one of the boys demos how to prepare said creature – gutting / filleting / shucking etc – whilst the other beavers away in the kitchen. Once the demo is over a simply cooked but tasty dish appears. This week’s mouthwatering menu was
- Scallops with smoked Toulouse Sausage
- Griddled squid with sesame oil, chilli, coriander and lime
- Plaice fillet in Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
- Whole baked wild salmon with samphire
It tasted as good as it sounds. Previously we served 2 wines pre course. However we noticed that several of the wines were well suited to more than one dish. So this time we offered a list of 8 wines, gave our suggestions of course, but allowed people to select a pour as they wish. The wines were as follows (best matches in brackets though most were good allrounders):
- Champagne Gallimard Brut Reserve NV (£23.50)
- Txakoli Getaria 2009 Ametzoi (£11.50, squid)
- Gruener Veltliner Gmoerk 2009 Anton Bauer (£14.50)
- Venezia Giulia Bianco “Blanc des Rosis” 2007 (£19.00, scallops & sausage)
- Chassagne-Montrachet 2007 Fontaine-Gagnard (£35.00, plaice)
- Provence Rose “Pink Floyd” 2009 Ch. Miraval (£14.00)
- Morgon Cotes de Py Vieilles Vignes 2005 Stephane Aviron (£17.00, salmon)
- Maranges 1er Cru La Fussiere 2007 Bruno Colin (£22.00)
The Txacoli is a light, spritzy, tangy Basque white. It’s a staple of these evenings and is really flexible, though the Toulouse sausage was a step too far – the rich North Italian Blanc de Rosis, a blend of Fruiliano, Pinot Grigio and several other varieties was best here and also very good with the salmon (it works well with meatier white fish too). The Chassagne was a decadent but successful match with the relatively humble breadcrumbed plaice (though this was as good as you’ll ever taste). We are very keen on lighter reds with meaty white fish, salmon and trout. The Morgon (a beautiful fruity but mellow top-end Beaujolais just hitting its stride at 5 years old was a very good match in my opinion though there were a few dissenters in the group – it can take a while to get your head around reds with fish! The tangy fresh Maranges (red Burgundy Pinot from a less well-known village) was also well-liked.
The next “Something Fishy” is to be held on Wednesday 20th of October, 7.30pm to c. 10.30pm. The menu will feature (subject to availability) crayfish, mussels, sardines or mackerel and, finishing on a real high note, turbot. Our final event for 2010 will be on Tuesday November 16th; the line-up is yet to be decided. Tickets are £60 per person. Call us on 020 8985 1549 to book tickets.
I was hoping to launch a series of food and wine blog entries with one on wines for Christmas Dinner. I seem to have missed the boat on that, so instead we begin with a few key non-technical principles that I find useful when trying to pick the right wine for food.
- Treat the wine as a sauce or condiment
This can be very useful. Take a very citrussy wine like a dry Riesling or Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc region. These have a good chance of matching foods that would take a squeeze of lemon – such as seafood. A sweeter (to cope with the heat) Riesling makes a great match for tandoori dishes, as several visits to Tayab’s in Whitechapel have confirmed. Similarly a peach laden Viognier can be really good with pate, pork dishes and chicken.
- Go local
In other words buy a wine from the revelant region. So if you’re cooking a gutsy Tuscan classic, buy a Chianti; it will probably work.
- Sauvignon Blanc is a good allrounder
If you’re going to dinner and have no idea what’s being cooked, consider taking a Kiwi sauvignon Blanc. A bit heavy for some fish dishes but gebnerally fine. Great with dishes with a touch of chili eg Thai crab cakes, due to its fruitiness and the fact it has the same chemical compounds as capsicums – this also makes it great with goat’s cheese. Fine also with green leaf salad (due to its herbaceousness)
…and finally a bit of a cop-out….
- Google it
If you can’t get to bottle apostle to endure a 20 minute lecture, try googling “moussaka wine pairing” or “osso bucco wine match” and so on. You’ll probably find more than enough suggestions.