I’m a bit flaky around the edges because this week I have mainly been eating pies. I’ve been trying wines too because you don’t get many pies to the pound in a wine column.
What scientific experiment have I cooked up this week? Well, it’s British Pie Week from Monday (March 2). As a Northern Bird worth my weight in eating pies, it would be wrong of me not to give that a passing nod.
There’s something wonderful about a pie; reminiscent of family gatherings, homely, comforting, and hugged by mitts at a footie match.
I cooked five pies, from a spicy Bombay potato scrunched in filo pastry to a fish pie with a perching potato topping; a chicken and leek pie in creamy tarragon sauce; butter pie (a mix of potato and Lancashire cheese from my homeland) and a warm indulgence of steak and wine.
Which wines to drink with that little lot?
The first rule is to drink what YOU want to drink and throw a cork at people who tell you otherwise. If you like it, then go with it. But for a general rule of thumb, if you’re eating light food, aim to have a light wine. Likewise, if your meal is rich and heavy, a light wine would be overpowered, so opt for a wine with depth. Don’t go for spicy with lots of tannin.
Here are some of the wines I tried with my pie feast.
Kaiken Ultra Chardonnay 2013 (£13.99 from independents including Vinomondo, The Fine Wine Company, Amazon, and Aitken wines). This had a silky feel which worked well with the creamy sauce snuggling the chicken. Vanilla complemented the tarragon as did touches of tropical fruit, pineapple and peach.
I couldn’t believe how simple the fish pie was to make, the sauce was just crème fraiche with a squeeze of lemon, poured over a seafood compote of smoked haddock, salmon and cod. Then along comes McGuigan Reserve Chardonnay (£9.99, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s) which has just enough creaminess to not fight the fish; just enough acidity to lift it, and just enough citrus fruit, grapefruit and peach to turn a mouthful into one big burst of flavour.
I think I overdosed on peeling potatoes with my butter pie and my Bombay potato pie; but it was worth it. And worth it alongside, was Blackburn & James Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio (Waitrose, £10.99) a white blend from California. I usually stay clear of the dreaded pinot grigio words, but here was a mix of melon and tropical peachy fruit, punched right through by a lime edge which enjoyed a tastebud tangle with the Bombay spices.
I tried reds, of course I did, one of them contributing to the melting mix of steak for a couple of hours. Arte de Argento Malbec 2013 (Tesco, £7.99) is a juicy mouthful bright with blackberries and a layer of chocolate, similar to that moreish kind you find flirting on the top of a creamy coffee. There was a fling of spice too, which worked well with the beef.
Beaujolais Domaine Romy 2013 (£9.99, Majestic, mix and match two and save 25%) is a slurpy kind of a wine. It’s as simple as that. Lots of easy-to-drink fruitiness, redcurrants, and easy on the tannin. Because of that it went nicely (and quickly) with the spicy pie.
Domaine de la Clairiège 2013, (£5.50, M&S) the cheapest wine in my experiment, and a great value one too. This is a merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah blend, with cherries oozing from the glass. It would be perfect as an instant relief “had a long day wine” but with the beef was also very nice indeed.
By the way, I didn’t eat five pies on my own. I like pies, but not that much.
Here’s the recipes I used, all from BBC Good Food
Published in the saturday extra magazine February 28, 2015