With the Weekend Magazine focusing on food this week I thought I’d offer a few thoughts on food and wine matching. The recent strange rise to prominence of Sommeliers as almost cult figures has put an even brighter spotlight on the idea of finding the perfect match for every food. There are endless books and blog posts on the subject but let me let you in on a secret - much of it is bunkum.
Yes there are specific wines that match well with certain dishes - Pinot Noir and Duck breast, Fino Sherry and Fish & Chips, Chablis and Oysters - but here is the thing, food and wine matching conflicts are quite rare and most foods are improved by most wines (and vice versa). If you want to drink your favourite wine then please do, even if that means drinking Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with Goulash - it is your dinner after all.
There are no rules in my view but there are some things to consider should you want to improve the eating and drinking experience. Wine to match food should complement or contrast so you can serve a buttery oaked Chardonnay with Spaghetti Carbonara or perhaps more appropriately opt for a dry crisp white wine from Lazio (which lays claim to inventing the dish). Frascati would work as would the evocatively named ‘Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone’. Red wine would also work - perhaps a Cesanese from Lazio or maybe a Sangiovese from nearby Tuscany - I’d opt for a more rustic coastal Morellino di Scansano than a refined Chianti from Siena - It is always a good idea to consider what the locals might drink.
A tannic red Bordeaux is great with steak (tannins and meat juices combine nicely), but won’t work as well as a Sancerre with Sole Meunière which lifts the flavours in the same way as a squeeze of lemon. Red wine can work with fish despite what you might have heard - Beaujolais Cru with wild Salmon or even white fish if you serve a rich dark sauce. And if you want to drink a Malbec with fish then add extra salt and pepper - salt softens tannins.
Wine suggestions this week are from Lidl who have an interesting new selection in stores for the next few weeks plus some delicious dessert wines from O’Briens to match Michelle Darmody’s wonderful cake recipes. Few wine retailers, and no other chain, cares as much as O’Briens do about matching dessert.