A wine for every bite

Whether it’s good old fish and chips or the newly ubiquitous pulled pork sandwich, there’s a wine for every dish

 

Is there a wine to go with everything? A lot of the time, matching food and wine is fairly straightforward. Most wines go with most foods. The old adage of white wines with seafood and fish, medium-bodied reds with chicken, and bigger red wines with red meat still works as a useful guide.

However, some dishes can be very tricky. They tend to come from countries without a long tradition of drinking wine.

Below is a selection of popular dishes that may not seem to have an obvious wine match. I have included some you are very likely to come across in the next two months, either when you eat out in a restaurant, or simply treating yourself to a nice meal and a glass of wine in front of the TV.

Cahors Ch. Eugénie Tradition 2009, 13.5%, €15.95 Very delicious, supple yet firm, smooth and concentrated inky dark fruits. Stockists: Cases Wine Warehouse, Galway, cases.ie.

ChampagneFISH AND CHIPS
Drinking wine with fish and chips might seem strange, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t. Any fresh young white wine will do, but there is one perfect match – Champagne! A friend of mine who did some serious research on this subject passed on the advice a few years ago. She was quite right too. Do go easy on the vinegar or even better steer clear of it completely. This works equally well in a restaurant or from a takeaway. So Dom Perignon with your ‘one and one’?
 

A WARMING BOWL OF SOUP
Soup never really seems to go well with wine. Possibly something to do with drinking one liquid with another. You could take a lead from the film Babette’s Feast and serve a glass of lightly chilled Amontillado sherry with a clear soup or consommé.

In a similar vein, I would go for a well chilled Fino or Manzanilla with a thick fish soup or chowder.

But on a cold winter evening in front of the TV, nothing is quite as satisfying as a large bowl of warming soup, full of vegetables, beans and a few chunks of meat or sausage with some good crusty bread. In the south west of France they happily drink a glass of red wine with their garbure, the classic (very substantial) soup, and then ‘faire chabrot’ – the practice of adding a generous dash of wine to the remains of the soup and lifting the bowl to your mouth. Here I would go for something a little rustic from the south west of France.

Champagne Jean Comyn Harmonie Brut NV, 12.5%, €34.99 A very tasty medium- bodied Champagne with raspberry fruits and a light toastiness. Stockists: Molloy’s Liquor Stores.

Maria CasanovaCHICKEN CHOW MEIN
Should you find yourself in a Chinese restaurant with a gang of friends wondering what to order with a variety of dishes, you could do worse than order a bottle of Prosecco or Cava – the same goes for a take away.

Fruity off-dry sparkling wine goes very well with Chinese food, particularly fish and chicken. I tried out a Cava with chicken chow mein and it worked very well. Otherwise go for a fruity white wine, and with beef, maybe a New World Pinot Noir or Merlot.
 

Maria Casanovas Brut de Brut NV, 12%, €22 A little more expensive than most Prosecco but worth it; delicious, fresh and clean plump fruits. Stockists: Sweeneys; Black Pig, Donnybrook; 64wine, Glasthule; Red Island, Skerries; On the Grapevine, Clontarf Wines; The Wicklow Wine Co, The Cheese Pantry.

THAI GREEN CURRY WITH PRAWNS
With all of those green herbs and zesty citrus, you could head straight for an aromatic Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Chile or South Africa. However, a nice fruity Riesling, an Austrian Grüner Veltliner or an Australian Semillon would do just as well. I would avoid red wines with most green curries, even with chicken, but once again sparkling wine works very well.

Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Elgin South Africa, 13.5%, €17.99. Fresh and aromatic with zesty lemons and green apple fruits. Stockists: Marks & Spencer.

Terras GaudaCHICKEN KORMA
Creamy, rich and spicy, chicken korma is understandably one of our favourite Indian dishes. When faced with Indian food, my two go-to wines are Grüner Veltliner from Austria or with red meats, a plump Pinot Noir. However, most unoaked fruity white wines will do nicely and with chicken korma I really enjoyed an Albariño from Galicia in Spain. The freshness and fruit matched the creaminess and complemented the warming spices.

O Rosal, Terras Guada Rias Baixas Albarino 2013, 12%, €26 Ripe melon and white fruits cut through with zesty acidity and excellent length. Stockists: Wine Boutique, D4; Mannings, Ballylickey, Co Cork; Sweeney’s, D11; Stacks, Co Kerry; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Mitchell & Son, chq; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; The Market, D18, Matsons, Bandon.

BURGERS
Burgers come in all shapes and sizes these days. A large gourmet burger, with mushrooms, cheese or bacon is a great backdrop for all kinds of red wine. As with roast beef, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux or Chile works really well. So too would an Australian Shiraz or a Malbec from Argentina; these two also have the power to stand up to the classic fast food hamburger complete with pickles, onions, ketchup and sweet mustard.

Les Demoisseles de Falfas 2012, Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux, 13.5%, €19.50 Medium-bodied with smooth blackcurrant fruits, this would go down very nicely with a gourmet burger or any other grilled or roast beef. Stockists: Terroirs, Donnybrook.



macon uchizyFISH PIE
Fish in a rich herby white sauce topped with mash is a great winter dish. With this you need a wine to match the creaminess of the sauce and potatoes, as well as providing a citrus hit. I would go for a Chardonnay, either lightly oaked or completely unoaked. If you like smoked fish in you pie (I don’t) then a little more oak will work even better.
 

Macon-Uchizy 2013 Domaine Talmard, 13.5%, €16.99 Light fresh racy Chardonnay with delicious plump apple fruits. Stockists: Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; The Drink Store, Manor St, D7; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Cases, Galway; The Wine Room @ One Pery Square.
 


La TribuPULLED-PORK SANDWICH
My son has perfected his pulled pork sandwich with barbecue sauce. The sauce takes about three hours to produce but the house smells wonderful. With its sweetness, earthiness and hot smoky chilli, it packs quite a punch; not the easiest to match with wine. A full-flavoured red without too much tannin would be best; the southern Rhône is one option, or a good meaty Australian Shiraz or soft Spanish red. The other alternative is a bottle of red ale.
 

La Tribu 2013, Valencia, 14%, €13 A beautifully soft ripe plump wine with sultry dark fruits. Stockists: Clontarf Wines; 64Wine; Listons, Wicklow Wine Co; Drinkstore; The Black Pig, Ennis (SCR); Red Island; On the Grapevine; The Cheese Pantry; Blackrock Wine Cellar.

LAMB TAGINE
My version (or try Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall’s Tunisian Lamb with Aubergine) includes dried apricots, almonds and plenty of spice and chilli alongside the lamb. I would go for something fairly full-bodied but tannin-free – a softer Lebanese wine sounds good but is difficult to find. I have tried a good warming Côtes du Rhône with great success.

Domaine de Janasse Côtes du Rhône 2012, 13.5%, €18 Warm rounded strawberry frits with a nice spicy kick. Stockists: 64 Wine, Glasthule; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; thewinestore.ie. The Drink Store

Estate MalbecBEEF BURRITO
With beef, refried beans, salsa and chillies, there is no shortage of flavour packed into that flour tortilla. Messy to eat but addictive, like a pulled pork sandwich they may vary in heat but will always require a big red to pull through. You could hunt down a Mexican wine (Mitchell & Sons have a few) but the Norton Privada from Argentina, a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet, has the power, ripeness and smokiness to provide an ideal companion. Again a bottle of red ale or an IPA would also do nicely.
 

Doña Paula Estate Uco Valley Malbec 2012, 14.2%, €15.99 Intense aromas of violets followed up by rich cassis, loganberries and vanilla spice. Stockists: widely available including O’Briens, SuperValu and Tesco.


La BastideA PLATE OF CHEESE
Cheese and red wine; a match made in heaven? Sadly, the reality is different. A great many cheeses, such as goat’s cheese, soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Mileens and Gubeens (including the smelly ones) are much better with white wines.

Sweet or fortified wine is much better with blue cheese, providing a contrast to that tangy saltiness. And chutneys, membrillo and dried fruits are not great with red wine.

If at home, far better to serve red wine with a single good hard cheese, such as Parmesa. In a restaurant, with the traditional selection of three cheeses, a white wine might be the best option but not always what you want at the end of a meal. Instead you could hit the cheese with something powerful and not too tannic – a tawny Port, the vintage Port below or a muscular big red wine.
 

La Bastide Optimée Corbières, 14.5%, €12.49 Brooding, meaty dark fruits in a substantial full-bodied wine. Stockists: Molloy’s Liquor Stores.

GREEN AND BALCK'S DARK CHOCOLATE (or Lindt or Valrhona)
Many wine lovers are obsessed with finding a perfect match for chocolate. There is even a range of chocolate bars to go with different red wines – from California of course.

I find a cold glass of milk is the best match of all, but if you need an alcoholic drink, a glass of late bottled vintage port or even better vintage port will do very well. Or a bottle of stout.
 

Churchill’s Vintage Port 1998, 20%, €26 It may sound strange but vintage port goes very well with dark chocolate; this one is not too sweet, but has plenty of rich spicy damson plums. Great value too. Stockists: Jus de Vine, Portmarnock.

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