We're going to be adding some wine recommendations to the site over coming months, and I’ve had the enviable task of educating myself on the wine matching front!
Wine recommendations at the Resourceful Cook will be made by people more expert than me in the future, but for this week’s blog, I'm flagging up wine styles that suit some of the dishes we featured in our recent summer recipes blog post. They're the outcome of my first few experiments in wine matching, but I've had some help from our chefs, so I feel pretty safe publishing the suggestions. I'm showing examples of each of the wines style from my local M&S (Angel in London - 'Hello' to all their staff!), and they're also available from Marks & Spencer's website. All the regions and wine varieties mentioned are commonly available, so you should have no problem getting hold of equivalents wherever you are.
As one of the most studied and enjoyed foods or drinks in the world, wine is capable of being analysed in a seemingly endless number of ways. People who know wine well can pair just about any type of food with a wine that will compliment its taste and make a meal more enjoyable. I'm beginning to get the hang of the taste combinations that work, and I think trying to understand why they work is actually an easier way to identify the subtleties in wine flavours than the traditional approach of using outlandish taste descriptions.
“I like European wines with smaller carbon footprints than New World wines”Wine experts can readily tell you which parts of the world are good and bad at producing specific types of wine, and the my next mission is to identify affordable European wines of different key styles to suit all our dishes. I'm keen on European grown wines because they don't travel the long distances that new world wines do (increasing their carbon footprint as they go).
Anyway, to keep it simple to start with, I'm going seasonal. Many people view the enjoyment of wines as a very seasonal and cyclical process, as certain wines are considered better with certain temperatures or atmospheres, but there's also the issue that you're unlikely (even with the British weather being what it is) to be cooking heavy, red meat based dishes right now. You'll most likely be interested in wines that work well with lighter flavours and textures now and a whole different range of wines come winter that can stand up to beefier, more robust flavours.
“I've found cool and refreshing wines that appeal when it gets hot and humid”Generally, I want to be outside to enjoy sunny weather, and it's often pretty warm out; We've made a habit of spending early mornings and late afternoons and evenings outside on fine days, often eating al fresco, and about once a week having a barbecue. Inevitably we've been eating light and refreshing food (oh, and mammoth cheese burgers!) and drinking light, crisp, refreshing wines. Heavy food and full bodied wines make me feel even hotter than I already do in the summer, so the recipes below are generally light meals and none of the wines are red. When the Autumn arrives, we'll make some suitable recommendations for matching more substantial dishes with red wines in a new blog post.
So, put simply, these are wines for summer drinking and are generally light and refreshing, and are very 'drinkable'. While some lighter red wines can fit this description, I've gone with white wines, and rosés. That's because red wines are usually considered to be at their best at room temperature, whereas whites and some rosés are generally intended to be chilled, and that's what most of us will be looking for at this time of year. Additionally, the average white or rosé is generally a more cool and refreshing beverage (though not always), which is appealing when it get hot and sticky and you're parched.
So here are some wine styles matched to recipes with examples of specific bottles:
For very sweet summer deserts:
If you've got a sweet tooth like me, your desserts are likely to be pretty sweet to start with. Really sweet wines paired with desserts that already have sweet, syrupy constituents aren't generally a great idea. A sweet wine that has a fresh edge is better, like a more refined Moscatel. The example I liked is from Spain: Moscatel De Valencia 2010.
Strawberries and clotted cream layered between home-made shortbread biscuits and served with a fresh strawberry purée.
£1.60 per serving. You'll need a typical store cupboard. Ready in 35 minutes.
Home-made white chocolate brownies accompanied by fresh raspberries and cream.
£1.84 per serving. You'll need a typical store cupboard. Ready in 45 minutes.
For fresher tasting summer desserts:
If on the other hand you're countering the summer heat with chilled, fresh tasting desserts, or using creme fraiche to offset some of the sweetness already, you can go with a really sweet dessert wine made with Semillion grapes that have had the sugars concentrated by noble rot (botrytis cinerea) like Hermits Hill Botrytis Semillon 2006.
Juicy poached pears served with an orange and mixed spice syrup and créme fraiche.
£0.83 per serving. You'll need a basic store cupboard. Ready in 45 mins.
A zesty and creamy dessert accompanied by sweet butter biscuits. (Allow 1 hour to chill in the fridge).
£0.68 per serving. You'll need a typical store cupboard. Ready in 40 minutes.
For Spicy dishes:
Afficionados of curries recommend lightly sparkling, crisp wines to provide a contrast the to the robust, often dense flavours of curry sauces and marinades. It does seem to work, and while Champagne and Vindaloo is probably overdoing it, this Pinot Noir Brut Sparkling Rose 2010" will work with the recipes below and is on special offer at the moment.
Vegetarian. Vegetable skewers in a Tandoori-style marinade and served with a bulgur wheat salad. Bulgur wheat steadily releases energy throughout the day..
£1.58 per serving. You'll need a cook's store cupboard. Ready in 45 minutes.
Thai spiced chicken patties served with a chilli dipping sauce and Thai jasmine rice.
£2.07 per serving. You'll need a cook's store cupboard. Ready in 35 minutes.
It's accepted wisdom that un-oaked Sauvignons work best with fish dishes, and the great thing about these wines is that they're not costly, and experts say that there isn't much benefit to buying pricey Suvignons, so you are well justified in going for something inexpensive like Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France, Sauvignon Blanc 2010.
Fresh and healthy roasted salmon fillet with new potatoes and creamy lemon sauce.
£3.05 per serving. You'll need a typical store cupboard. Ready in 20 mins.
Tuna and potato fish cakes served with broccoli, grilled tomatoes and a lemon-mayo dip.
£1.34 per serving. You'll need a basic store cupboard. Ready in 40 mins.
For white meats and chicken:
It seems there's no hard and fast rules where simpler chicken dishes are concerned because they tend to be fairley subtle and neutral in flavour (assuming they're not cooked in a rich sauce, in which case match the wine for the sauce, not the meat). This is the opportunity to drink a wine that may not go with many other dishes, like a fruity Burgandy: I tried Macon Villages 2010 which went down a treat.
Chicken and cherry tomato skewers in a lemon yogurt marinade served with a sweet potato, feta and mixed leaf salad.
£3.38 per serving. You'll need a typical store cupboard. Ready in 45 mins.
Baked chicken in a Parmesan and oat crust with low-carb grilled asparagus, watercress salad, and mustard dressing.
£3.24 per serving. You'll need a typical store cupboard. Ready in 45 minutes.
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