Wines to go with British Food Fortnight

British Food Fortnight is great excuse to eat (and drink wine!)

BRITISH Food Fortnight 2015 is well underway …  I enjoy British food the rest of the year too, but when these things come along it’s an excuse for one of my foodie Scientific Experiments.

For your benefit I’ve roasted a chicken, plated up a Ploughman’s and coaxed a crispy topping onto a cottage pie.

Chicken and chardonnay are quite nice though you forget these things.

I roasted chicken with lemon and onions in its tummy and tarragon butter squeezed under the skin. I love potatoes, so I did a creamy mix of leeks and potatoes as well as roasties.

Rickshaw Chardonnay 2014 (£15.99 at Majestic or £11.99 when you buy two until October 26) is from California to be precise. The wine is over a tenner even at a reduced price, but it’s worth it for a Sunday lunch.

From the Rickshaw there are aromas of pears, vanilla and a sidekick of citrus and then to taste, just enough acidity and freshness to cut through a mixed forkful of crunchy roasties and creamy leeks.

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The wine sought out the tarragon like a lost pal in a crowd, then, paired up at last, herby inflections from both had a bit of a natter.

Finca Constancia Seleccion 2012 (RRP £10.49 online from Ocado & picked up silver at last year’s International Wine Challenge. It’s a Spanish blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot and was my sidekick for my cottage pie supper.

Blimey, I love cottage pie. There’s much debate in our household as to whether pickled cabbage or pickled beetroot is the way to go; but Finca is unflappable either way. There’s a mix of dried and fresh red fruits with a savoury note of its own. There’s plenty of spice and a velvety lick of vanilla which did a high five with the crispy mash topping.

I sit on the picket fence when it comes to English red wine. Whites are hard to fault, but reds, well I’ve never been convinced. Bolney Estate Linter’s Red 2013, (£13, M&S) was part of my ploughman’s experiment. I’d asked work chums to think of British foods and here we are, a great choice. Pork pie, cheeses, pickles and crackers made an outdoor spread and the Linter’s Red joined them. (Some wasps too, little blighters.)

My workchum has asked me to say “did you know” that the Ploughman’s Lunch was first promoted by the Milk Marketing Board in the 1960s as part of a campaign to boost the sales of cheese. There you go.

British Food Fortnight, a Ploughman's lunch and an English red wine
British Food Fortnight, a Ploughman’s lunch and an English red wine

The Linter’s is made from Rondo grapes in West Susssex and is aged in both French and American oak. On the nose there’s blackcurrant and plums and pepper; to taste, the acidity takes centre stage, and the fruits struggle to nudge it out of the way. But a slither of mature cheddar brought out the underlying fruit, and a new wine was born.

Alianca Bairrada Reserva Tinto 2011 (£7.50 for the 2013 vintage at is half the price of the English red but double the delight.

It was born in Bairrada in Portugal and is a blend of traditional grapes baga, touriga nacional and tinta roriz.

With a slither of pork pie it was peppery perfect; with the Ploughman’s cheddar it melted. There are fresh and dried cranberries, notes of chocolate and a frisky edge of spice which did a jaunty jive with a spoonful of pickle.

I’m sure the powers that be behind British Food Fortnight have put in more effort than me.

To find out more, including details of lots of events,  go to

Published in the saturday extra magazine September 19, 2015

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

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