Food & Wine Matching for Christmas
Thierry Tomasin, owner of the Angelus Restaurant in central London, offers advice on how to successfully pair wine with food this Christmas.
Christmas is on the way, winter is here and we are already celebrating the end of the year. Reuniting with friends; dressing up in Christmas jumpers and attending the Office party (waking up to remember that you revealed the office secret to your boss, after a few too many glasses of wine.)
For restaurateurs it’s the busiest time of the year and the time that your hand takes the form of a permanent corkscrew. It is also a great time to lose weight prior to my own Christmas feast as you become marathon-fit running up and down the Cellar stairs to Angelus restaurant every five minutes.
It seems that the wine offering in restaurants is being scrutinised more than ever and never more than in ‘party season.’ I am so pleased to see that good wine is being considered as important as the food, for the pleasure of people’s evenings.
But what about your own Christmas wine selection? The wines you want to impress and treat your family and friends to? Do you take time to consider your wine choice or do you wait until the last minute and pick up any bottle from the shelves and repeat the same phrase ‘I wish I knew more about wine… but I will just have to go on the bottle label. That looks pretty…’
Follow my personal advice and you should be fine.
Food and wine matching is like a marriage. The base note of the wine is the most important and you need understanding and complicity with the sauce and garnish. The simple rules are red meat with red wine, white meat or fish with white wine. However what about red meat and white sauce or fish with a red wine sauce? Complications begin, as does your ability to impress.
A Premier Cru Chablis, Puligny Montrachet or a Chardonnay from Napa Valley is perfect for the delicacy of a poached lobster. A Saumur white is perfect with caviar and an Albarino from Spain or a Sauvignon from New Zealand works wonders with a Cornish crab with its sharpness, fruitiness and dryness. For Scottish king prawns I don’t think you can do better than a dry Reisling.
Game is increasingly fashionable. With this, the rule is the stronger the meat (such as wild boar or wild rabbit) the more tannin heavy the red wine should be; perhaps a good Bordeaux such as a Pauillac or alternatively a Shiraz from Australia.
If you are serving a game bird, a Pinot Noir such as a Pommard from Burgundy comes highly recommended. If you are serving a chocolate dessert, try and avoid Champagne, even a Rosé. It is a cliché. Try a Maury from the South West France, a vintage whisky or a cognac. If you would prefer to stick to red wine, a slightly mature Chateauneuf du Pape will compliment desserts well.
And if you’re ending your meal with ripe Stilton? A glass of Sauternes is as ever a very good option and compliments the cheese as well as glass of Port.
Some of you may wonder now, where is the Champagne in all of this? Well I would save good Champagne for the morning after your party. Drink it in bed and reminisce on the night before. Ou la la!
Have a grape time! Thierry Tomasin M.C.A
MAURY WINE – ANGELUS RESTAURANT (Holds an Off-Licence Certificate)
SAUMUR BLANC .LES ANDIDES 2011. WAITROSE
SHIRAZ . CATAPULT, MC LAREN VALE 2009. MARK AND SPENCER
CORNEY AND BARROW RUBY PORT. CORNEY AND BARROW