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Guzzle and Graze - break the rules with food and wine pairing

PUBLISHED: 14:17 23 May 2014

Guzzle and Graze

Guzzle and Graze

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Hi, I'm Scott, a thirty something chap living in Addlestone. I have a huge passion for wine and food. Having worked in the wine trade for the last six years, I've developed the way I stare, swirl, sniff and sip - and would now like to share some of that experience with you here…

I’m back again sharing a little grape love with you lovely Surrey people. So the last time round was very much a ‘this is me and this is how I do things’ post.

This time round however, I simply cannot write a few paragraphs about wine without writing about food as well so I wanted to share with you a few of my own ideas about pairing wine with food. I am a wino by trade and a foodie by, well, just the sheer love of cooking and eating!

For me, there are too many rules when it comes to food and wine, and the relationship between the two, so I am all up for keeping things very simple and stripped back to the bare bones.

Food and wine need not be what a lot of people I know think of it as; scary, confusing, overwhelming, daunting and such like, really it is far easier than some think.

Living in Surrey, we are surrounded by some excellent restaurants, of which many have fabulous wine lists, sommeliers and consultants all employed to do one thing – ensure that the diner has the most perfect experience possible.

Now, this is brilliant but I don’t have the time or the money to be able to do this as frequently as perhaps I would like, so instead, it is either a cheaper bite out in a pub or having a home cooked meal.

Let’s stay at home for a moment, where the keys jingle and jangle in the door and your home awaits those first few steps through the hallway, where you slap your keys on the side, the shoes get flung off and a weary sigh indicative of a hard day earning a living murmurs from your mouth. If there was ever a sign that your body needs a plate and a glass, then this is it.

It is now time to create the ‘at home’ wine and food experience, and we are not talking elaborate time consuming cooking here. I always find the best weekday dinner to be a plate of pasta, and the beauty of pasta being that you can add most things to create a dish. It opens up “avenues and alleyways” (thanks Tony Christie) to pick your match your perfect wine.

I said there were no rules, which is true, but there are a couple of guidelines, and these are pretty straight forward:

1) Any wine where the acidity is high (that salivating feeling on the walls of your mouth) craves something that is fatty; be that pork belly or a chunky piece of salmon. But never with anything creamy. Imagine squeezing a load of lemon juice into a glass of milk, they just don’t go!

2) Any wine that is high in tannin (ever over stewed a cup of tea and you get that mouth coating feel? Well that’s tannin) should go with a dish with a good slap of protein, which turns that slight harsh and chewy texture into something soft and unctuous.

Other than these two things, I am one to bite my thumb at the idea that you should only pair certain wines with certain foods. Wine is subjective and highly personal, so that makes it down to you in terms of what you like. I love a cheeky fish and chip supper on the odd Friday night, and if you remember my last post, one of my favourite drops is a Malbec. On paper, all kinds of wrong in terms of flavour and texture profiling, but I love them both together, so I will continue to enjoy my fish and chips, with a pickled egg I might add, and a glass or two of Malbec. Who cares? I don’t.
The weight of the plate of food you are about to graze on just needs to be equal in weight to the wine you are about to guzzle. That really is the way in which I like to tell this kind of story, and that is precisely what I advocate in the Guzzle and Graze tastings I host. It is all so much more fun not to conform, and instead rebel somewhat and just have some fun with it.

Here are a few matches of my own that I have enjoyed in the past, that I can highly recommend you try:

• Penne pasta with tinned tomatoes, dried oregano, garlic, basil and pangratatto matched with a glass of Carignan and particular Roche de Belanne Old Vines Carignan available at The Wine Reserve in Cobham for £8.49 a bottle

• Papadelle pasta with wild mushrooms, cream and sage sauce paired with a cheeky drop of Chianti. Chianti is available everywhere, but spend no less than ten English sheets for a good bottle. My juice of the moment is the wonderful Orcia Leone Rosso Chianti 2007 again from The Wine Reserve in Cobham for £15.99 for a bottle. Delish!

• Spaghetti with finely diced shallot, garlic and olive oil (super simple) and a glass of Soave (yes Soave, that fashionable 70’s wine that is really coming back into style). Properly crisp, fresh and zesty with subtle hints of nuts, perfect with this easy plate.

• Finally, for something a little adventurous that has nothing to do with pasta but I recently discovered that it’s a winner beyond all measures: Austrian Zweigelt (cherry bomb of a red wine, lots of dried herb flavours and hints of Christmas spice) paired with a course game pate and raisin crackers. If you can find one, please give this a try. So good!

There are lots of farmers’ markets, shows and fairs across our region, yet I am still to find an event or a show that has a wine element thrown in. Quite simply, how about a table of wine, a few plastic wine glasses and away we go, Guzzle and Graze goes mobile!

Forgive me if somewhere lurks somebody who does this already, but if they do, they are pretty quiet about it. Well this is what I want to shout out from the rooftops about. The next time you visit Ripley Farmers’ Market, Chobham Festival, Woking Farmers’ Market, keep a beady eye out for Guzzle and Graze.

Until the next time, keep ‘em filled.

Scott


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