Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Two Exciting Things: Part II - Guest Wine Botherer

Photo: Kirsten Bresciani

Very often the authoritative voice on food cannot have the same level of authority on drink. And this is a pity. I often wish that Nigel Slater’s sumptuous recipes will be accompanied by the perfect drink suggestion - alcoholic or not. The absence of direction is odd when the flavours of the drink will be taken at the same time as the flavours of the meal.

I have a few cookbooks - Le Gavroche Cookbook for one, which have wine suggestions, but they are too expensive for low-key occasions. The book which I think matches food and drink well is How to drink, by The Guardian's Victoria Moore, which has a great emphasis on food and gives context to most of her drinks ideas.

So I’ve asked close friend Ruth Ford - a self-confessed 'Mancunian wine-botherer' - whose palate I am in awe of, to tie in wine and drink recommendations. Every now and then she will be giving a guide on how to match the wine to the food under the section she quite rightly titles with an urgent imperative:

Must Drink

She is the Olly Smith to my Saturday Kitchen - blonde and talented, but curiously prettier.

One area we’re both interested in is exploring how Asian food can work with wine. Whilst the Asian restaurant scene in UK has readily improved over the last 20 years, my own experience of wine in Chinese restaurants has been confined to either late-night tart whites sloshed illicitly from teapots, or obscure breeds served quaintly in Michelin starred hangouts.

The middle ground is - yes, there is a wine list, and no the waiter has no idea if the Sauvignon Blanc will go with the braised goose web. And of course, there is the question of whether wine is even the best thing to drink with such dishes of savoury and spice.

Please give Ruth a warm welcome and soak up the advice. And I can’t wait to learn gems from her so I can say things like - ‘you just can’t go wrong with a gavi di gavi’.

How to Drink by Victoria Moore, £15.99 is published by Granta
Le Gavroche Cookbook by Michel Roux Jr, £14.99 is published by W&N


Katy Salter said...

Really good and useful idea ladies I look forward to reading more.
K x

Helena Lee said...

thanks K - and if you'd like to bother ruth with any oeno-type questions - feel free! x

Jo K said...

Hey girls, I would like to know - what is the one question you should ask about wine in a restaurant AND should you believe people who say 'I don't like chardonnay?' thanks!

Ruth said...

Hello Jo K,

Firstly, never believe anyone who says they don't like anything. They've probably just never had a good one (of whatever they're talking about) and therefore it is your duty to introduce them to the tastiest example of whatever it is they claim not to like. Furthermore, saying you don't like chardonnay is like saying you don't like soup - there are so many different chardonnays / soups of different flavours and textures that it's surely impossible to dismiss them all so casually.
As to the question you should always ask in a restaurant... this provoked much discussion in my house, but we settled on "Can you recommend a wine to go with [whatever you've ordered]?" This will help you to get the measure of the restaurant (can they recommend anything or do they just look at you blankly? and if they can, did it go well with your food?), and, if they know what they're talking about, should introduce you to a previously untried food and wine combination. If it's good, you'll go home very happy = result for them, and a nice time had by you.

Anonymous said...

If someone says they don't like chardonnay, see if they'll force down some blanc de blancs or a good chablis...

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