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Lamb is easily one of the most wine-friendly foods there is, its versatility means there are almost infinite possibilities when picking a wine to match.
If in doubt reach for Rioja, this is a classic match for lamb, the red fruit flavours and subtle vanilla notes really do work well. A Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux blend would also be a great match with its deep dark fruit flavours and subtle oak. The tannins in these wines particularly complement more full-flavoured and robust lamb dishes.
If you prefer your meat a bit pinker then opt for something which is slightly lighter, and like the meat, juicier. The fruity, perfumed style of Pinot Noir makes a great match for rare lamb and is perfect for Easter roasts. You could also try Côtes du Rhône, the acidity means that it cuts through the fattiness of the meat and the dark spicy fruit flavours would also work well if you plan to marinate your meat in herbs and garlic.
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 the Rustenberg 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 the St Michael Eppan Pinot Grigio.
Herbs are great fun to match, but finding wines to pair with spicy food can be quite tricky. In general, a hint of sweetness works really well with chilli heat. This means that wines from varieties such as Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris or Riesling can be fantastic – look for those from Alsace that have a bit more weight and fullness than those from Germany, as a general rule.
Italian wines are wonderfully versatile with food too, so a good Pinot Grigio might surprise you! For reds, try ripe fruited examples of Carmenère or Grenache (New World Shiraz can work brilliantly too).
For many British families a Sunday roast is the staple meal of the weekend, an afternoon where family come together over homely food and more often than not a special bottle of wine. A superb match to the rich flavours of a roast chicken is Pinot Noir. There's something about the quality and purity of fruit flavours, combined with a slightly savoury overlay that makes it work brilliantly with gravy, stuffing and vegetables too.
If you're pushing the boat out with red meat, you might want something richer than Pinot Noir, so try a Malbec or a Rioja with your roast lamb or beef, they come with a structure that helps balance out all the different intense flavours and textures.
If you’re having a citrussy style of chicken with garlic and herbs, and maybe kale or spinach, you could go with a fresh style of Chardonnay such as the Waitrose Chablis or head to Italy, with a Pinot Grigio, Vermintino or a good Soave.
As you move to dessert, it’s really worth picking up a sweet wine. The main principle here is that the wine should be sweeter than the food, or both might taste a bit odd.
When you’re looking for the sweetest of sweet, look out for the classic wines of Tokaji, a real treat would be the Disznókö Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos. For chocolate there’s the fortified Rutherglen Muscat from Australia, which is ideal with richer desserts, or even the slightly unusual, sweet red, Waitrose Seriously Plummy Maury. Fortified wines often have the depth and richness that work so well here – so don’t forget about sherry, madeira and port as fantastic matches for desserts with dried fruits, coffee or chocolate.
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 – try the Quinta do Noval 10-Year-Old Tawny as a glorious example.
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 Burgandy (or a very mellow red) can be brilliant with soft cheeses.