Whether you’re hosting a festive dinner with friends or need something to impress the in-laws this Christmas, a glass of wine can be transformed by a complimentary food pairing. This week, we’re sharing our top five pairings for that bottle of red you’ve been saving for a special occasion.
1. Red burgundy
Consider the weight and texture, which grow lighter/more velvety with age. Also the character of the wine: Nuits is earthy, Musigny flowery, great Romanées can be exotic, Pommard renowned for its four-squareness. Roast chicken or capon is a safe standard with red burgundy; guineafowl for slightly stronger wines, then partridge, grouse or woodcock for those progressively more rich and pungent. Hare and venison (chevreuil) are alternatives.
Great old burgundy The Burgundian formula is cheese: Époisses (unfermented);a fine cheese but a terrible waste of fine old wines.
Vigorous younger burgundy Duck or goose roasted to minimize fat. Or faisinjan (pheasant cooked in pomegranate juice). Or lightly smoked gammon.
Classically, in Verona, risotto all’Amarone or pastissada. But if your butcher doesn’t run to horse, then shin of beef, slow-cooked in more Amarone.
3. Great Syrahs: Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, Grange; Vega Sicilia
Beef (such as super-slow-cooked ox), venison, well-hung game; bone marrow on toast; English cheese (esp best farm Cheddar) but also hard goat’s/ewe’s milk cheeses: England’s Berkswell or Ticklemore.
4. Red Bordeaux very old, light, delicate wines, (eg. pre-59)
Leg or rack of young lamb, roast with a hint of herbs (not garlic); entrecôte; simply roasted (and not too wellhung) partridge or grouse; roast chicken.
Fully mature great vintages (eg. 59, 61, 82, 85) Shoulder or saddle of lamb, roast with a touch of garlic; roast ribs or grilled rump of beef.
Mature but still vigorous (eg. 89, 90) Shoulder or saddle of lamb (incl kidneys) with rich sauce. Fillet of beef marchand de vin (with wine and bone marrow). Avoid beef Wellington: pastry dulls the palate.
5. Rioja Gran Reserva, Pesquera…
Richly flavoured roasts: wild boar, mutton, saddle of hare, whole suckling pig.
Extracted from Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2017. Available here