I love the challenges of matching wine with food or food with wine (have you heard the one about the chicken and the egg - or was it the egg and the chicken?), it’s fun setting oneself a challenge either way.
Two instances in the last couple of weeks have illustrated this perfectly. We had opened a bottle of Alsace, Wunsch et Mann Grand Cru Steingrubler Pinot Gris 2007 to check its condition prior to its use at a Budock Vean Dinner. Golden and rounded, pure and weighty with a lovely languid drop of honeyed ripeness, but what food would match it best? The hotel was serving it with a crab and sweetcorn soup (at our suggestion) and they reported back that it worked really well but, in an ideal world, I would have had it with a big dollop of fresh foie gras. Neither wine nor food would dominate and the texture of both would have filled the mouth with opulence – mouthfeel we call it in the trade. Unfortunately I had no foie gras to hand!
The second challenge was food / wine. Our garden at home has a stream running through it and from time immemorial – long before our house was built – it has been the place where the village gathered watercress. We use it a lot – it’s best in the late summer and if left uncut will take over half the lawn and we end up mowing it off. We had some friends staying in August who had brought an Iberico ham back from Spain and I served it with the compulsory watercress salad on Bank Holiday Monday. So what to serve with it? As it happened I had a bottle of Chamelin Verdejo 2010 to hand and it just worked so well. That assertive, primary green-fruit Verdejo flavour standing up to the white pepper of the watercress. If texture was the secret with the Pinot Gris and foie gras, here the magic link was the colour and freshness of both partners. Other options would have been maybe a mid-Loire Sauvignon Blanc or Bob Lindo’s crackling Atlantic Dry from Cornwall’s very own Camel Valley.