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Spectator Sport Season

With a season of British sporting events just around the corner I thought it would be a good idea to get my calendar booked up sharpish. Then naturally, the next thing that came to mind was ‘what am I going to eat and drink at said sporting spectacles’?

Pimm's No.1 Cup 70cl Bottle  Strawberry and CreamI have to admit that the gastronomic gremlins inside of me will never be able to tear themselves away from all those clichéd drink, food and sport pairings – although this is not always a bad thing as Pimm’s seems to be the predominant drink. For me, the main gluttonous food culprits are strawberries and cream on Henman Hill (or add new name as appropriate), and that ludicrously expensive burger and chips at the cricket with the mandatory pint of branded lager to quench the thirst from the beaming sun and the burger’s high salt content. Those summer romances will never end. However, I am keen to share with you, the discerning Majestic follower, a few British Summertime alternatives which will hopefully add something a little extra to an arduous season of spectator sport.

So what’s first. Ah, the Cricket season is in full swing now. We’ll be going into the final test with our tails up after that impromptu victory a few weeks ago. As I mentioned earlier, it really is hard to get away from that extra cold golden lager, but if I were to suggest a substitute it’s going to have to be something equally chilled with a few bubbles… champagne it is then (I don’t need much encouragement)! It has to be light and fruity in style so you can last ‘til the end of the day. I’d go for the Laurent Perrier NV or the Perrier Jouet NV.

“It is essential to use briquettes to really impart the best charcoal aromas in the meat – none of that gas nonsense”

Viñalba Malbec Reserva 2008/2009 Mendoza  The British Grand Prix. Now that calls for a Sunday BBQ. Firstly, a summery cocktail to get people in the mood. As you can probably tell Pimm’s is going to feature. Add all the usual fruit to get the infusion going, but then add a sparkling wine rather than lemonade. This will give it a bit more ‘va va voom’, and you can use whichever dryness (or sweetness) of sparkling that you prefer. Meanwhile, something I always forget to do in advance is to get those coals on the BBQ glowing. It is essential to use briquettes to really impart the best charcoal aromas in the meat – none of that gas nonsense. Nothing tastes better barbequed, especially when you use quality food. I have to indulge in a medium-rare steak and good bottle of red. So next up would be an Argentinian Malbec or an Aussie Shiraz. The big fruity and well integrated flavours match up perfectly to the robust charcoaled red meats. Heaven.

The Horse Racing at Ascot in mid June is always an important date. In the past friends and I have opted for the more casual picnic, which allows us to take in a suitably appropriate amount of food and drink next to the race course. This always works out well; a picnic with Pimm’s and a bit of bubbly. Nothing too special here as the occasion is mainly fuelled by being with a good group of friends, though a good quality New World sparkling hits the spot between a nasty cheap sparkling and a pricier champagne. My bet would be one of the Lindauer’s, which you can double up as a toasting wine when the Queen rides past in her carriage.

For those fellow spectator sport enthusiasts out there, I would ultimately say that you have to sit back, relax and enjoy what always seems to be a short British summer.

I’ll get back to you with more wine, food and sport pairing later in June!