Food & Wine Matching Masterclass – “Playing Cupid at the Table”!
I know I keep banging on about our Wine Tasting Events and I appreciate it sounds like we are simply blowing our own trumpet, but when you trial a new format and it goes off not only without a hitch, but with follow up Thank You e-mails where the superlatives trip over themselves to exceed hyperbole, you can’t help feeling a little bit smug! Hee Hee!

Last Friday saw our inaugural “Food & Wine Matching Masterclass” here in Vence. The event was planned as a Degustation Menu of flavours and textures to be tasted alongside the appropriate wines. I introduced each course with a bit of Wine Anorak info on the style, provenance and background to each wine and an explanation of why the “Perfect Partner” dish accompanying it was going to illustrate how
certain wines work with certain foods – and also why some wines really don’t work with some food stuffs!
As Champagne was due to skip to the table alongside a Tasting Dish, the Welcome drink served was a bone dry, chilled Fino Sherry, alongside salty olives and Anchovy & Parmesan Palmiers. Next the Champagne, our sensuous and silkily stupendous, Vilmart Grande Réserve Brut NV with a plump and precocious Prawn – a large crevette with a simple parsley butter showed how the surprising sweetness levels in what is perceived to be a dry Champagne work well with sweet seafood such as prawns, lobster, scallops and crab. Along came the Goat’s Cheese and Thyme tart whose classic partner should be a Sauvignon Blanc such as a Sancerre – but as an unusual Sancerre was to be shown later that evening, I opted for a grape variety and wine which shared many of Sauvignon’s grassy, aromatic and

crisp acidity characteristics – so a Verdejo from Rueda in Spain made it’s entrance. The last white of the night was a smoothly balanced and delicately oaked Beringer Chardonnay from California – here I think I excelled even myself with a dish which could have won the vote for yummiest of the evening: An Open Ravioli of Tea-smoked Chicken with a Smoked Ham & Cream Sauce.
The reds opened Act II with the mysterious Sancerre – a Red version made from 100% Pinot Noir which with its light tannins and crunchy acidity made it a cracking partner for a rich, meaty fish – here, Griddled Swordfish with Mushroom Gravy. The next duo of wines came out together to illustrate how tannins in youthful and more mature wines can work in rather different ways with meat: transport your mind and imagination to our groaning table and think youthful and high spirited young Bordeaux with rare, juicy Cote de Boeuf and a more restrained and regal mature Bordeaux with a slow cooked, melt in the mouth Beef Daube. An interesting and thought provoking exercise…
Next – a “bit of cheese” – served French style, i.e. after the Meat course, but English style with a couple of crackers rather than a plouche of salad.
Guests could elect whether to continue drinking the
remnants of their red wine with the St Agur or whether to take my advice and try the salty blue cheese with a sweet, Sauternes look alike, Ste Croix du Mont – same grapes, same region (Bordeaux) – quarter of the price!! This pudding wine was then challenged to match or clash with our Dessert Duo – a Nougatine Iced Parfait with a Mango & Mint Salsa and / or a Dark Chocolate Mousse. I’m not going to give the game away on what works with which or indeed whether those two magnificent Bordeaux wines were up to the task…No, you’ll have to find out for yourself at our next Food & Wine Matching Masterclass on 14th August! Check the Forthcoming Events section on our website for details.

Helen Brotherton