Food and wine matching can seem like a mysterious art, but this often overlooked way to give your home-cooked favourites a lift is a lot easier than it looks. Arfon Jones, Assistant Manager of Majestic Wine Cheltenham, shows how it’s done.
Unlike our European neighbours, most of us Brits only think about pairing wine with food for dinner parties and special occasions. The idea of choosing a wine to go with a humble everyday meal might seem absurd, but why not? Remember, the same rules apply even with the simplest meals, and at Majestic Wine you’ll find a huge range of excellent quality wines at every price bracket.
With this in mind, here are a few of my favourite everyday food and wine pairings. All it takes is a little planning and you’ll soon become a dab hand at transforming your midweek meals into a gastronomic delight.
Homemade Rich Beef Stew
‘I Satiri’ Salice Salentino Riserva DOC 2005/06, Candido, Italy
£8.99 or £7.49 when you buy 2 bottles
Salice Salentino is creating a buzz in the wine world for great complexity and value. Don’t be fooled by this Decanter Award-winner’s light colour; this is a robust, full-bodied wine with great complexity that would work wonders with a hearty beef stew. Made from the indigenous Negroamoro, it’s not too dissimilar to a port, with intense dried fruit, and subtle smoky notes, followed by lashings of plum and bramble fruit.
Château Méaume 2006/07, Bordeaux Supérieur, France
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles.
A good red Bordeaux has to be the perfect accompaniment for beef stew. This superb claret ticks all the boxes for everyday value combined with quality, making it a firm favourite with many Majestic customers. Merlot dominant, this soft, mellow wine rewards you with hallmark characteristics of sweet fruitcake spice, plums and cedarwood, followed by the merest hint of blackcurrant.
Aubergines Stuffed with Spicy Lamb Mince
Santa Rita 120 Carménère 2010, Central Valley, Chile
£7.49 or £5.49 when you buy 2 bottles
According to legend, 120 patriots seeking refuge from the battle for Chile’s independence found it in the Santa Rita wine cellars. Why not find refuge yourself after a hard day’s work with the 120 Carménère – the signature grape of Chile, and this simple play on moussaka. Velvety smooth, with lashings of juicy brambly fruit and notes of spices and vanilla, this wine will certainly rescue any left-over mince dish.
Bordière Nord Syrah Grenache 2010, PGI Pays d’Oc, France
£6.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles
If you love spicy food, and you don’t want to tame it, then go with this Bordière Nord Syrah Grenache. Fermented without oak to enhance the natural fruit flavours, this is jam-packed with berry fruits on both the nose and palate. The dominance of Syrah creates a wine with well-weighted soft tannins accompanied by hints of black pepper spice, making this a great everyday red, perfect with this recipe or pasta dishes.
Baked Sea Bass with Fennel
Dourthe La Grande Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Bordeaux Blanc Sec, France
£7.99 or £6.49 when you buy 2 bottles
The key to a good pairing is matching the dominant flavours of the food with the wine. In this case it’s the fennel that needs a fruity and aromatic wine light enough in body to match up to the fish. This affordable Sauvignon Blanc is ideal, with outstanding aromatic intensity elegantly balanced by zesty citrus fruit, a surprising hit of passion fruit, mouthwatering acidity and a long, powerful finish.
Château La Gravette 2010, Minervois Rosé, France
£6.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles
The pale pink off-dry blend of this rosé is made using a blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Carignan, believed to have been introduced to the region by Roman legionnaires. The palate is light and alive with stewed red fruits and joined by a touch of spice to match the aromatic flavour of the fennel.
Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnut Salad
La Grille Vouvray 2010, Paul Buisse, France
£7.99 or £6.99 when you buy 2 bottles
One of my top all-time pairings has to be a lusciously sweet Sauternes with a creamy Roquefort or Brie. For a superb everyday alternative, try La Grille Vouvray with this salad. Its demi-sec style with extra sweetness and refreshing acidity works in harmony with the gorgonzola, the Chenin grape’s apple, citrus and quince cutting through the richness of the cheese and walnuts, but matching the pear exquisitely.
Waimea Estate Pinot Gris 2010, Nelson, New Zealand
£11.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles
Reminiscent of the Alsatian style achievable from this fabulous grape, this Pinot Gris’s silky, textured off-dry palate is packed full of fruit and ideal for salads. With concentrated crisp pear, apple and melon flavours leading into harmonious honeysuckle and spice, expect good acidity and a soft complex structure. It matches the pears’ acidity well, whilst the added weight and creaminess complements the gorgonzola beautifully. Lees stirring adds nuttiness to match the walnuts.
Prices valid until 31 October 2011.