Wine Press: German pinot gris is perfection as food partner

Salwey Pinot Gris wine

Bacon and onion tart may not sound like a culinary dream – but with a glass of superb German pinot gris wine it can feel like luxury.

I fancied some German pinot gris and came across a recommendation to drink it with Zwiebelkuchen, which is a traditional German baked dish of dough covered with onion and bacon,  and egg and creme fraiche.

So I did.

I Googled and found a recipe easily enough and even with making dough from scratch this golden-topped open pie was rustled up in less than 40 minutes.Salwey Pinot Gris wine

With it, a glass of Salwey Pinot Gris 2011 from Baden (£13.20 was perfection.

Now this pinot gris is miles apart from its flavour-thin mass produced pinot grigio cousin from Italy.

If you’re browsing German labels, you’ll see grauburgunder (a dry wine) or ruländer (a sweeter version).

I met Konrad Salwey, the producer of my pinot gris, some months ago and he enthused about his wine which was born out of the volcanic soils in Baden.

It has nectarines, pears and lemons on the nose and an excitable scythe-like acidity tremors and teases your tastebuds long after the last drop of wine has slipped down your throat.

There’s a rich, fulsome spiciness which perfectly complemented the creamy, peppery pie topping.

Konrad told me that his own preference was to have the wine with mushroom risotto or creamy pasta.

I hunted around for a couple of other German pinot gris.

Palataia Pinot Grigio 2012 (Marks & Spencer, £8.49) is from the Pfalz and blends pinot gris with 15% pinot blanc. It is a bright, crisp, mountain-fresh trickle of apples lemons and pears.

Klein Pinot Gris 2012 (,  £11.99 or £8.99 if you’re an investing Angel) lacks the creamy depth of the Salwey but has fresh citrus and stone fruits on the nose and a good, balanced zesty finish with tickly spice.

For more information on German wines you can go to

Also in my glass… medal-winning Trivento Reserve Malbec 2012 (Tesco, £8.99) was a plummy, datey, mouthful with a nose like a walk through a warm, autumn forest. It  came into its own with a hearty chorizo-laced pasta and suits powerful flavours superbly.

Published in the saturday extra magazine November 9, 2013

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express


Bénédictine – a warming drink with a kick

benedictine drink winter warmer

I’M A BIT giddy at the moment and it’s nothing to do with alcohol. I’m giddy because of football.

My team, who I’ve spent many a Saturday afternoon chilled to the marrow cheering on, are top of the league. Even though I now live many miles from Burnley and the rolling east Lancashire hills, I still have a yearning for a lovely half-time drink that defrosts the parts that beef tea can’t reach.

So as it’s Bonfire Night soon, and you’ll be needing drinks to warm you as sparklers spitter and rockets soar, I’ve recalled the days when I needed centrally heating against the chill.

I bring you Bene ’n’ Hot. Bénédictine and hot water. It is served on match days at my club and lifts the spirits. It often needs to – this season is a welcome surprise. (Touch wood!)

The French liqueur was created in 1510 as a medicinal elixir and uses 27 herbs and spices including honey, vanilla, juniper berries and myrrh. It is both sweet and spicy and I’ve shared its warming glow at weddings, football, Christmas and funerals.

With hot water, its aromas lift out like a comfort blanket cloud. It is a classic with brandy – and an ideal toddy for horrid winter colds.
The liqueur is going through a resurgence and the brand has worked hard to increase awareness via festivals and drink competitions.

Bénédictine review

But in my old neck of the woods it has been popular for decades.
It stems from the First World War and the Pals battalions from Lancashire were based where Bene is produced.

It was drunk in the trenches to keep warm and soldiers also thought it helped recuperation.

Back home, the demand for the drink continued.
Bénédictine (50cl) is on sale at selected stores of Sainsbury, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco with prices ranging from £15.50 to £17. Find out more about Bénédictine at /beneliqueur

Also in my glass …

Another French classic, Pernod Absinthe.

It has been relaunched by Pernod to the original recipe. (Waitrose, £40, 70cl, with a frightening 68% abv.)

Anise and wormwood are distilled in white spirit, leaving distinctive “aniseed” on the nose. For friends, I mixed glasses of 25ml absinthe, 125ml of pressed apple juice and filled with ice.

One pal described it as a drink she’d enjoy in summer – another said it reminded her of a gobstopper. I literally couldn’t speak. My mouth stopped working. It was lovely – but none of us dared have another.