Cooking for friends series 02 | How to go off-piste with food and wine pairings

October 4th, 2018 Food

When it comes to food and wine, it’s tempting to stick to the classics and reach for a Chardonnay for your scallops, or a red Bordeaux for your rack of lamb, but if you really want to impress your friends, then you need to be a bit more creative.

We got our food and wine consultant, Rob Wade, on board to share a few secrets that may raise eyebrows around the table, but will soon get the taste buds fired up. Read on and be sure to enjoy the gratification that comes from discovering a brilliant combination (and then sharing it with your favourite wine drinking buddies).

Champagne with fish and chips.

This combination is more of a modern classic, but unusual nonetheless. The bubbles against the crunch of the batter; the refreshing citrus flavours taking the place of a good squeeze of lemon over the fish; and the very high acidity cutting through all of that oil from the deep fryer. It’s simply a perfect pairing. You can of course substitute a cheaper sparkler if you prefer. Look for a Cremant from Burgundy or the Loire as a closer match to champagne than the usual stand-by Prosecco.

Sweet white wines with strong soft cheeses.

Instead of reaching for a rich red for the cheese board, first consider a sweet white; particularly those wines affected by noble rot (aka botrytis). They have great natural sweetness balanced by crisp acidity, with flavours of honey, nuts, and apricots. Essentially, many of the things we would traditionally put on a cheese board.

Served chilled, these wines refresh and reset the palate, rather than confusing it with the weight and tannin of a powerful red wine. They are particularly good with strong soft cheeses such as Epoisses or Mont d’or.

Marcillac with roast pork or chicken

A classic pairing with charcuterie, Marcillac is also a great match for the Sunday roast. Made from the wonderfully named Fer-Servadou grape, it’s light in body and colour but has firm tannins that combine deliciously well with the texture of roasted meat. Fruity and spicy with interesting minerality, it’s a beguiling wine and a great change from the usual Pinot/Cab Sav/Merlot selection.

Manzanilla sherry with seafood

A light, dry and fresh type of sherry, made so close to the sea, many people find a note of sea salt in the wines themselves. Clearly these sherries have the sea in their DNA, and make for an exquisite match with all sorts of fish and seafood: crispy fried squid, anchovies, garlic and chilli prawns, smoked salmon, mussels, oysters and clams.

The most amazing thing about these phenomenal dry sherries, is how few people actually drink them!

Burgers with…

The ever-popular worldwide favourite…and usually wolfed down with a beer or a soft drink, but burgers are an interesting match with wine. This is a time to bring out the big guns. Look to hot-climate, full bodied reds like Aussie Shiraz, Southern French Grenache and Californian Cabernets. That oozing, melting mess of protein will stand up to just about anything you throw at it, so if you’ve got a 15% abv Zinfandel (aka Primitivo) hanging around: burger it.

If meat isn’t your thing; mushroom burgers are fantastic with NZ Pinot Noir, and for aubergine and halloumi burgers you could try a medium bodied Italian such as Chianti.

For more from Rob, check out his website


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