My top five food and wine matches and why they worked
It’s often easier to understand why we dislike a food or a wine than why we like a food or wine. For example, I was unable to eat marmite after my cousin made a lavatorial reference to it when we were both around eight years old (I finally re-tasted it a few years ago and am now a marmite fan). Why am I dotty about freshly shucked oysters? Texturally they are not a big winner … but they taste like the sea. Similarly, gooseneck barnacles – perhaps the most delicious seafood I’ve ever eaten and yet they look like the exposed veins of a long-dead person.A pre-requisite to a great food and wine combination is that you must like, or even love, both.
I love riesling for its tension and acidity, my wife Marion hates riesling for its tension and acidity.
A pre-requisite to a great food and wine combination is that you must like, or even love, both. Then the magic really starts. I’ve listed some of my personal favourites but don’t be surprised if you find many of them unappealing. I’ve also tried to analyse why the partnership works as well as it does.
1: Freshly-shucked Tio Point oysters drizzled with a squeeze of lime & 2013 Framingham F-Series Old Vine Riesling
Why? Acidity in the lime pulls down the wine’s generous acidity making it taste richer and more interesting. The wine’s flavours don’t change, they amplify. Both are from Marlborough, which is a psychological plus.
2: English Stilton cheese with 1985 Dow Vintage Port
Why? The wonderfully tangy, salty cheese retains its integrity, as does the moderately sweet vintage port, but an amazing synergy occurs as nuances of extra-terrestrial flavours appear out of nowhere. Check with your cardiologist before trying this.
3: Gooseneck barnacles and vinho verde
Why? I’ve only tasted this combination once but dream about it regularly. It was in Portugal where the Douro River empties out into the sea. My host asked me to choose from the menu. I deferred and invited him to find something “the locals might enjoy.” A steaming plate appeared. Attached to each large barnacle was long, white vein. “What do I eat?” I asked. “Just nip the vein off,” I was told. They were fantastic! The barnacles put me into a trance-like state while the vinho verde snapped me back to reality and steadied my nerve for another barnacle. This was one of my greatest food and wine matching experiences.
4: Beluga caviar and 1982 Salon Champagne
Why? They are both horrendously expensive.
5: Pan-fried goose liver and 1967 Chateau d’Yquem
Why? Because it is the greatest vintage of d’Yquem I’ve tasted and I’m crazy about goose liver (as long as I don’t think too much about it). Both are rich and heavenly.