DO you select a soave or choose a chablis?
According to a new survey, we are clueless on wine and pick our plonk on the basis of price or label.
But wine expert Victoria Moore says the right pairing of food and wine is a match made in heaven.
And she has come up with the best choice for a host of family favourite meals in her new book.
She says: “The bottle you open makes a difference to the way you experience and enjoy your food. In good matches there is a kind of harmony. Each complements the other.”
Victoria says the trick is finding flavours that work well together — and avoiding those that don’t.
She adds: “The best way to understand this is to consider a bad match — orange juice after toothpaste, say. I’ve yet to find anyone who enjoys that.”
Here, she shares her perfect pairings.
Fried Eggs And Rioja: What To Drink With Absolutely Everything (Granta, £12.99) is out now.
BALANCE between wines that suit the food and the mood.
A rich blend of syrah, grenache and mourvedre from southern Rhone, Languedoc, California or Australia, or an Australian Bordeaux blend for stuffings and sauces.
FISH FINGER SANDWICH & KETCHUP
A CHEAP softly fruity red, like Fitou, is perfect with ketchup and the crunch of breadcrumbs.
I also like a cheap Cotes du Rhone a Californian zinfandel or an Australian syrah-cabernet sauvignon.
WINE with a bit of sweetness helps to neutralise the burning effect of chilli.
Without that sugar, it can be hard to taste the wine.
A fruity, off-dry rosé or an off-dry sparkling wine holds up well against most curried foods.
THE bold flavours and sweetness in Chinese food means three mainstream wine styles can be relied on to work well – chardonnay, riesling with a little bit of residual sugar (that is, off-dry riesling) and pinot noir.
BEANS ON TOAST
BAKED beans are so sweet and so processed that it is usually for the best if the wine you have with it is fairly sweet too.
Just go for a cheapo supermarket red, which is likely to have a smidge of sugar in it.
OOZING with garlic butter and covered with crisp, tasty breadcrumbs, a yummy chicken Kiev goes very well with a nice crisp white such as sauvignon blanc, vermentino or picpoul.
FISH & CHIPS
THE best match is English sparkling wine. Its vehement acidity and biting bubbles are good with salt, vinegar and fat.
A young, non-vintage champagne would also work along the same lines, though I prefer the cleaner swoosh of the English.
LAMB kebabs in pitta are fantastic with a robust rosé (maybe from the Lebanon), or a robust red (from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon or Portugal).
A chicken kebab, however, needs an inexpensive and neutral white for best results.
THE ultimate red wine food that makes nearly every type look good.
Fruitier reds that hold up to garnishes include a carmenere-cabernet sauvignon-merlot from Chile, a Salice Salentino from Puglia in Italy and malbec from Argentina.
JACKET POTATO (WITH CHEESE)
WHEN the potato is cooked in bonfire embers or the oven without foil to keep the skin tender, it has a crisp, smoky-smelling thick jacket.
Try a smoky oaked St Chinian, a claret or a cabernet sauvignon-syrah from Australia.
I SPENT a year in Italy so I am pre-programmed to favour Italian reds.
They have a bite that meets that of the tomato and the heat of any spicy cured meat.
My go-to reds at home are a sangiovese or the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
I AM happy to say that one of the very best wines for accompanying crisps and other salty snacks is champagne. No, I’m absolutely serious.
Champagne has a high acidity, which is very good when it meets with salt.
THE crumbling pastry and luscious dried fruit of mince pies suit the molten raisin flavour of a sweet oloroso or cream sherry.
It works with dry sherry, too, though pick a robust one – an amontillado or a punchy fino rather than a manzanilla.
TRY an Italian red wine, most of which have the acidity to cut through the creamy sauce, as well as the savour to match the meat.
Sangiovese is a good catch-all or pick a Chianti Rufina if you want the wine to be more refreshing.
FOR a white that’s refreshing against all that gooey cheese, pick picpoul.
An old-fashioned glass of red Bordeaux – youngish for the refreshing edge, and with plenty of cabernet in it – is also satisfying.
IF you are drinking wine and eating cake on a birthday, then you probably have fizz in your glass anyway – and quite right too.
But it’s a case of the sweeter the better, as dry wine tastes a bit odd after sugar, so go for prosecco over cava.
WHEN you stand hovering with an empty plate and big appetite by the open fridge door, prepared to eat anything, have a bottle of sherry ready.
Even if it has passed into cooking sherry territory, it’s good with leftovers, chunks of cheese and raw veg.
I tend to drink Lucozade and endless cups of tea if I’ve got a hangover.
I believe that the “hair of the dog” cure is completely overrated.
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