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Tips, advice & delicious pairing ideas
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The intense savoury flavour of a rib of beef demands depth and backbone making the reds of Bordeaux an excellent match, particularly those of the left bank, such as Saint-Estèphe or Haut-Médoc, which traditionally have more Cabernet in the blend.
Scientists have even suggested the high levels of tannins in Cabernet help break down the proteins in beef making it easier to digest. Sounds like a great excuse to open your best Claret.
Wines to match fish can be a lot more varied than you might think; different tastes and textures provide you with an exciting range of options for delicious pairings.
One such pairing is salmon matched with a rich, oaked white, especially if there's a creamy sauce, or you're serving it with buttery potatoes. A great example would be a rich South African Chardonnay , or for a truly elegant choice try a delicious white Burgundy.
If the dish has more herbs and a lighter touch, it's worth moving to a lighter style of wine. Italian whites are often brilliant with herbs, such as a Pinot Grigio or Soave and for full on decandence why not try lobster with the new modern classic Albariño, from Rías Baixas in north-western Spain. It combines white peaches and flowers with a salty tang that seems to come straight from the nearby Atlantic.
Golden, luscious wines such as Sauternes, Tokaji or sweet Rieslings, would pair just as well with tiramisu as richer, darker, fortified styles such as molasses-like PX sherry or Madeira.
But the New World has its sweet wine traditions, too. Rutherglen Muscat, from Australia, is like liquid Christmas pudding, while the ‘straw wines’ of South Africa, made from grapes left to dry on straw mats in the sun, can be exotically fruited, honeyed delights.
If you still have room or just enjoying a lighter treat there is nothing better than a cheeseboard. There are a lot of different flavours and textures on a cheese board making it difficult to match the complete experience instead of one cheese in particular.
With gentle tannin alongside sweetness, Port has the best chance of coping with the diverse flavours, and it also doubles up as a digestif after a big meal. When it comes to matching wines and cheese specifically, there are some divine matches! Sauternes is wonderful paired with blue cheese, Sauvignon Blanc is ideal with goat’s cheese and white Burgundy (or a very mellow red) can be brilliant with soft cheeses.