The Knackered Mother's Wine Club: an extract
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What wine when?
Life is too short for lots of things. Stuffing a mushroom for one (Shirley Conran). Too short to be livin' with stress, for another (Dizzee Rascal). While I agree with both Shirley and Dizzee, my own personal favourite, unsurprisingly, is that life's too short to drink bad wine.
Obviously, you should drink whatever you are in the mood for, it's just that by putting a bit of thought into the matching bit, you can improve a meal no end. And if you are cooking something that requires some effort and time, why not bring out the best in the flavours with a wine that supports the dish rather than works against it? By opening the right bottle mid-week, you can perk up even the slackest meal by making the flavours sing rather than mumble. And by putting the right bottles on the table when someone important comes for dinner, you can look ever so knowledgeable (which, having read all this, you now are).
The thing is, you need to put it into practice in order to learn from experience. Here are some combinations to try, both classic and not so classic. Remember to scribble a note in your posh notebook/on your phone so that you can repeat the successful pairings and avoid the ones you don't like. Not that any of these ones won't work; believe me, I've done my homework.
|Dish – main ingredients||Classic pairing||Not-so-classic pairing|
|Simple salad||Pinot Grigio||Picpoul de Pinet (southern French white)|
|Mushroom risotto||Chianti||Chilean Pinot Noir|
|Thai fish curry||Gewürztraminer from Alsace||Australian Pinot Gris|
|Burger||Cabernet Sauvignon from anywhere||Californian Zinfandel|
|Five-spice pork belly||New Zealand Pinot Noir||New Zealand Chardonnay|
|Lamb chops with herb butter||Red Bordeaux (Cabernet/Merlot blend)||Argentinian Malbec|
|Chicken curry (mild)||Beer||Champagne (not kidding)|
|Lasagne||Chianti||Southern Italian Red (Primitivo, Nero d'Avola)|
10 things I know about wine and want to share with you
- New Zealand Pinot Noir is usually divine.
- Cheap South African red usually isn't.
- Champagne with a bit of age is much more interesting than young stuff.
- Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colchagua region tastes a bit like chocolate.
- The Nebbiolo grape (of Barolo fame) is an awkward bugger but I still love it.
- English wines, especially sparkling ones, are definitely getting better and will have their moment.
- Chinese wine will be on our shelves before long. Made in China.
- Top-end Burgundy is to die for, really.
- I thought I preferred Old World Sauvignon Blanc to New World Sauvignon Blanc, but I was wrong.
- Left-field is good: Austrian Grüner Veltliner, southern Italian reds, undiscovered Languedoc reds...
Ring the changes
Have a look at this list to get you in the mood for trying something different, with confidence:
|If you like...||Then try...||Why?|
|Fruity Chardonnay||Marsanne or Roussane from the South of France||Same warm peachy fruit, but the grape varieties are less well known. I promise you they can be utterly delicious|
|Not-too-fruity Chardonnay||Coretese from Italy||Gavi, for example, is just one Italian dry white that does fresh fruit, but not in an in-your-face way|
|Sauvignon Blanc||Ruede from Spain||Light, lemony and refreshingly different. Rueda is the region, so look for this on the label. Verdejo is the grape.|
|Pinot Grigio||A. N. Other crisp dry white from Italy (Falanghina, Cortese, Fiano)||Because Pinot Grigio is fine, but there are so many other delicious Italian whites to try... and so little time|
|Riesling||Pinot Gris from New Zealand||If you like Riesling, then you might not want to change at all. But if you do, try a Pinot Gris (same grape as Pinot Grigio but more French in style). Clasically beautiful|
|If you like...||Then try...||Why?|
|Cabernet Sauvignon||Malbec from Argentina||Big, bold and just a little warmer in style. Will make you want to dance, possibly even tango|
|Merlot||Grenache (probably blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre) from the South of France||Same soft red fruits with added sunshine and oomph. Here, the sum is very definitely greater than the parts|
|Shiraz||Syrah from the northern Rhône||Same grape, but French ones from the Rhône Valley tend to have a sort of ‘coolness’ to them, both in terms of climate versus Australia, and in the style of the wine. Not so shouty, but lots to shout about, if you see what I mean|
|Tempranillio||Tempranillo from Ribero del Duero||If you like Rioja, try the reds from here. You’re still in Spain, just trying something different.|
Reproduced from the The Knackered Mother's Wine Club by Helen McGinn, with kind permission from Pan Macmillan.
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