Master of Wine Philippa Carr guides us through an evening of pairing wine with Easter treats:
Easter is almost here I’m looking forward to roast lamb, hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, all washed down with a perfectly paired bottle of wine. But what is the secret to pairing plonk with your Easter lunch.
On a mission to find out which wine I should be serving up this Easter Sunday, I was invited by Asda to The Refinery in Southwark, to learn how to do just that at an evening of wine and chocolate matching.
Supermarket wine used to be about getting a cheap bottle of plonk, but not these days. Whilst the special offers and low prices are still there, these days the supermarkets have raised their game in terms of the quality and selection of wines on offer.
Asda is the only UK supermarket chain with a ‘Master of Wine’ to select their wine collection – someone with one of the most sought after, difficult to obtain qualifications there is. “More people have been into space than are masters of wine” Philippa informed us at the start of our evening.
Her knowledge was, as expected, unsurpassed. We began our evening with a glass of champagne and a selection of mini bites, little sliders, mini fish and chips, mango chicken and a host more.
We tried three white wines, three red’s and two dessert wines. Philippa’s mission was to show us how different types of wine work with different types of food, why they go together and the exquisite interplay between the wines and foods, how they alter each other.
We looked at different aspects of wine, how the tastes go together, how they work in your mouth and how they compliment foods.
Sauvignon Blanc and lemon
We started out looking at acidity in wine. Our first wine was a Marlborough Sun New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (currently £6.47 from £6.98). It’s taste conjured up tastes and images of fruitiness, the colours green and yellow, fields of daffodils. It was naturally an acidic wine, by which it makes your mouth water.
We then tried it with lemon, a very sharp and acidic taste on it’s own. However when taken together the two acidic tastes canceled each other out and the wine and lemon both became sweeter.
Chablis and cashew nuts
Here we were looking at how wine works with saltiness. The Chablis (Extra Special Chablis currently £8.50 from £11) has a naturally lower acidity to begin with but the saltiness in the cashew nuts (or something like oysters) lowers that acidity in the wine, which is why they are such as a classic paring.
Smoked salmon and Albarino
Here we were looking at the effect of pungency on food and wine. The wine (Albanta Albarino 2013 priced at £12) had a rich, smooth taste and though the Chablis should be the classic pairing we all agreed this unusual, flinty, Spanish wine was a delicious combination.
With red wines you are looking for tanines. This gives you the dry sensation and rich red colour which categorises red wines. This comes from the grape variety and skin thickness. Personally I love Bordeaux red’s but let’s try these!
Gruyer and Bordeaux
First up we had a Bordeaux Chateau Bois Chantant Bordeaux – currently £8.98 or 6 for £40. It tastes of chestnuts & blackberries. It is dry on the mouth because of it’s higher tanine quality. Add in the fatty cheese and it becomes creamier and much less dry. The perception of tanine lower with protein rich foods.
Rioja, Pinot Noir and roast lamb
Here we looked at the interplay of richness and body between the lamb and the rioja. The Rioja (Extra Special El Meson Gran Reserva Rioja £9.97) is award winning, decadent and rich, velvety. It has hints of American oak which cuts through the lamb and hits the back of your throat. It is aged a little longer and is gorgeous.
The second wine, Extra Special Yarra Valley Pinot Noir £7.98, is lighter and more floral, more fruity. It is a pretty wine and has a higher acidity and tanine quality as pinot noir is a thicker skinned grape. It would go well with poultry or if you lightly chill it then it would go with pan fried tuna.
By this point we’d tried a few wines as you can see. On an evening like this you really need to pace yourself!
Roquefort and white chocolate
Whether you order the cheese board or the chocolaty dessert either of these wines would work really well. They are Asti Spumante (£5.25) & Ginestet Sauternes (£9.00). The Asti is a very underrated, light, flirty and bubbly wine.
The Sauternes was something a bit different as it is made from rotten grapes, a special type of noble rot. It is full of concentrated sugars and has flavours of golden honey and marmalade. When served with the roquefort it became creamy, heady and rich.
The final wine and combination was Dark chocolate (bitter): pair with Warre’s Otima Tawny port (on offer, £10). It was a pretty nice tawny port, which I do like a drop of now and then.
In the run up to Easter Asda are offering a selection of wines from which you can choose 6 for £25. As they are selected by a master of wine, I can vouch for them being pretty good. And at just over £4 a bottle you can’t really go wrong! You can find Asda’s Easter food and wine offers on a dedicated page.