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Grub n’ Grapes

Hello Followers!

Just thinking, 7 blog posts in now and had loads of views, but I want to know if any of my stories, quotes and bits and bobs have helped you in any way; if anything, have I in some small way opened a door to anyone into Wine Narnia?  I have a poll for to have a look at as I would love to know your views now that I am a few posts in.  Take literally 2 minutes of your time whilst reading this and send some comments to me – I promise I will read and respond!

So, what is on the agenda this week I hear you mutter?  Well, this week is all about food!!  There are lots of people out there that eat to live and that is fair enough – completely wrong, but fair enough!  I on the other hand as I am sure most of you do live to eat, and I most of the time do this in a massive way.  Aside from learning and writing about wine, I am fortunate enough to be able to sample a bit of fine dining now and then courtesy of what I do and the people I meet, and so I have learned a lot about what I enjoy to have as a drink with my food.  Now I am far from ‘good’ at officially pairing wine with food, so I certainly do not claim to know what should go with what, but what I do know and have a full comprehension of, is what I like with food, and if I had to design a menu about around certain wines, then I am confident enough to be able to come up with some dishes that would pair well with the wine on the list.  I think it’s a very personal thing; for example, I really love a Malbec when I have fish pie…??!!  Complete mis match in official terms, but that is what I like and that is totally personal to me.  So, based on my, not so much knowledge, but educational encounters, I have a list of wines to try with the dishes described below.  Would be interesting to hear some thoughts on this.  Before I do that though, I do know some basics of matching food with wine (I am only adding this little bit in because I don’t want you to think I am a tad inept or in any way a bit of a wally for not knowing!)…probably too late for that eh!  Lets start with the whites…Chardonnay.  Typically, this is a full-flavoured, rich white wine that has common flavours of apple, butter, oak and vanilla.  So based on this, it would be well matched with seafood such as lobster, and seabass, but would be awful with really intensely flavoured and textured fish such as anchovies and tuna.  Think white meats in buttery sauces – the intense fruity richness of the wine would cut through chicken the sauce nicely and leave a nice ‘mouth-feel’.  Sauvignon Blanc – these are in most cases light-flavoured, crisp white wines that produce flavours of grapefruit, lemon and have grassy tones.  Ideal with delicately flavoured dishes such as seafood again, but think crab, oysters and some smoked seafood.  Because Sauvignon Blanc is not too fussy and is fairly simple, the dish requires not too much ‘fuss’.  Onto the reds and everyone’s favourite – Shiraz!  Shiraz or Syrah from the New World will tend to have big fruit-led flavours of blackcurrants and blackberries with textured tannins, whereas French Shiraz tends to be chewier and more earthy, so with that in mind, the fruitier styles would be great with red meats and in particular, beef stews, venison and lamb.  The older styled Shiraz would still be paired well with these too, but any sauce or jus would need to be less acidic and stand up to the boldness of the earthiness.  Finally, Pinot Noir – makes medium-bodied, elegant red wines that exude lovely flavours of red berry fruit and in some cases have notes of smoke and violet.  Because this is a lighter styled red wine, light red meat dishes that are not so heavy are well matched here; duck goes famously well with Pinot Noir, my personal favourite is duck with fondant potato – that and a kiwi pinot are a match made in heaven in my eyes!

So now that you have a flavour of the basics and what wine is ‘ideal’ with, here are some suggestions that I have encountered that I really like:

Spagbol (please never use spaghetti!!! Use tagliatelle instead) – matched with Saperavi.  This is a Greek wine that is rich, heavy and quite earthy.  As I leave my ragu or sauce on the stove for around 2 hours it gets rich and intense, just like the wine.

Chicken in white wine and tarragon sauce – Pinot Noir. This is especially odd because Pinot never goes with anything that involved cream or butter, and my sauce does, but this really works for me!  It’s the finish in the mouth I love at the end when you are chewing on succulent chicken breast and that gorgeous smoothness of the wine.

Fish and Chips – champagne!!  Don’t even think about writing this one off, this is pure decadence at its very best.  What do we all love as a Friday night treat once or twice a month…fish and chips….what do we love anytime of the day any day of the week….a glass of fizz!!  Trust me when I say that the creamy champagne works a right treat with the salty, starchy fish and chips.  Try it this weekend and have sparkling instead of champagne if the purse strings are tight…lovely jubbly!

You could easily forget what I have written here and have what you like, but just bare the basics in mind before you do, and get to understand what you like with your food….then understand what it is that you like it…talk to me about it and tell me your findings.

Staying on food, for those if you like me based in London, get yourself a Taste London card.  You can save 50% on meals when dining with 2 or more people at loads of restaurants in town – http://www.tastecard.co.uk/ At the moment they are offering a 3 month trial period for free, so logon and make the most of it.  For those outside of London, here is something to think about.  A survey conducted recently stated that within 2 miles of every home, there is a pub that serves restaurant quality food on a daily basis.  Now I ask, if 6 pubs close every day in Britain, and 1 of these is a gastro style pubs, how can this be accurate?  In your area, do you have a pub worthy of ‘Gastro’ status within 2 miles of you?  I can’t quite get my head around that one.

I end this week’s post with a simple, yet evocative quote from one of life’s most precious souls – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius

How true!  Wine is fun, fun is wine drink it young and when you dine…see you next week!

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