Wine was created to complement food. Yet, there are a few foods that will challenge even the most dedicated of wine lovers. Even so, our sommeliers have come up with some inventive solutions to show how wines can enhance even the most difficult dishes.
Of course, feel free to send us yours!
A Beef Miso, which is Angus beef marinated in Miso sauce with crushed black pepper, served on top on an artichoke base. It is rather spicy and full of savoury flavour. The best pairing was with a Nigori sake from Hiroshima, Kamoizumi Ginjo, as it brings out the tenderness of the meat and cools off the fire by wrapping the spices.
Head Sommelier & Wine Buyer
Sumosan Restaurant, London
Asparagus Strawberry Salad garnished with Sweet Chilli Yoghurt Sauce matches well with a glass of sparkling Ice Wine from Washington/Oregon.
The most difficult wine pairing I had was to find five courses to be match with five ports. The most challenging was a Braised Ox cheeks served on white cabbage & raisins, which I successfully matched with Graham's Six Grape Port.
Le Cercle, London
Currently, I am working with award-winning chocolatier William Curley. Last month we did a tasting at his shop on Ebury Street, Pimlico. We matched together six exquisite chocolates with six interesting wine pairings. My favourite combination overall was the Piedmont Hazelnut with a 1996 Colheita Tawny Port from Barros. For me, port, especially a lightly-chilled tawny (Colheita is of a single vintage) matched with great quality dark chocolate is a wonderful marriage. It is even better with the addition of nuts. To sum it up it transforms this challenging situation into The Holy Trinity of tastes and flavours - Chocolate, Nuts and Port.
What about "Golden Louis XV"? It is a chocolate dessert with a dacquoise base, topped with praline mousse, smothered in warm chocolate ganache and garnished with gold leaf. Bam! I love to match it with Pommeau de Normandie from Coeur de Lion (a Mistelle made from un-fermented apple juice fortified with Calvados and then aged in wooden barrels for at least three years). The Pommeau is a little pungent on the nose, but you recognize the Calvados straight away with notes of freshly picked red apples. On the palate you have notes of baked apples in cinnamon and raisins reminiscent of my Mom’s strudel and an excellent complement the hazelnut dacquoise. Pommeau has a beautiful balance between sweetness and freshness to cut through the richness and voluptuous creaminess of the praline mousse and chocolate ganache like a Hattori Hanzo sword.
Roberto della Pietra
Head Sommelier & Wine Buyer
Gauthier Soho, London
The most tricky wine pairing was probably lightly scrambled eggs with white truffles. The best match was with a very old champagne such as a 1959 Dom Perignon .
Hotel du Vin, London
Tandoori dishes can be challenging especially as they can be marinated in a variety of different ways. We solve the problem by matching the dishes with creamy, round, smooth, oaky and buttery white wines (not just Chardonnay), which complement each other’s smoky characteristics. The added benefit is that wines such as these usually have higher viscosity, leaving a fine layer on the palate. The result is that the heat is mellowed but the spices are enhanced.
Of course if a red wine is preferred we find wines that are very supple and round with balanced alcohol are the best matches. We tend to favour red wines that are spicy or fruity rather than meaty and farmy, simply to avoid adding too much ‘meat’ to a chicken or fish.
Group Wine Buyer and Head Sommelier
Benares Restaurant and Bar, London