I WALKED around work with a Post-it note stuck to my jumper last October. It said: “Don’t discuss The Great British Bake Off … I haven’t watched it yet!!”
This year I’m at least four episodes behind and playing catch-up. I can see a Post-It note coming out again!
The other night I watched a man make a lion’s head out of bread and felt pretty useless so I’ve wimped out of making cakes for my Scientific Experiment (it had been my plan).
Instead, I’ve bought ready-made shortbread, lemon drizzle cake, a chocolate cake and a vanilla cheesecake to talk about wines with cakes, sweet bakes and fruity things.
There’s a couple of simple rules when pairing wines with sweet things.
Dishes high in sugar should be paired with wines that have at least as much sugar; so don’t pour wines that are less sweet than the yummy treat you’re eating.
What’s this? Babycham? I spotted it in Tesco (£4 for four 20cl bottles) and thought I’d give it a whirl.
It brings back memories of mum, aunties and my sister, though I think brandy was a pairing of choice back then. With a mouthful of lemon cake there was a dapple of lemony explosion but mainly from the cake. The Babycham was much better with shortbread whose buttery flavours shone through.
Sweetheart sparklies that would definitely fizz and flutter with a lemon delight are the dreamy Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato (£9.99, Tesco) or Lidl’s Allini Asti Spumante DOCG (£5.25) which pops with peaches.
Rustenberg Straw Wine 2012 (Majestic, £13.49, or £8.99 each when you buy two until October 26) is a blend of viognier, chenin Blanc and crouchen blanc grapes which are allowed to dry on straw mats for four weeks before they’re fermented.
Then someone like me comes along and asks it to sit quietly in a glass while I slice tiny triangles of supermarket cheesecake.
There are aromas of pineapple, honey and the candied oranges and lemons you get in a Christmas box. Velvet peach cream oozes in the mouth, divine with the creaminess of the cheesecake. I think I’m in love. The lemon drizzle was too sweet (remember those rules) so stick with creamy fruity bakes on this one.
Plaimont Producteurs Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Duc de Termes 2011 (£4.49 from £5.99, 37cl, Tesco) is lighter on the nose, with vanilla and candied peel.
The cheesecake was a decent match as the wine’s apricot notes weren’t overwhelmed.
You’ve got to love pedro ximinez sherry. You might have had PX as a drizzle over ice cream; now try it in a glass with chocolate cake.
Taste The Difference Sweet Pedro Ximenez Sherry (£8, Sainsbury, 50cl) is a sticky glug of liquid bonfire toffee. I bet ginger cake would be perfect, but I won’t tell the chocolate cake if you don’t.
This just doesn’t feel like sherry; it’s unctuous like a liqueur, all gloopy and mahogany-deep, with flavours of raisins and prunes and a lick of spice. Chocolate wonderland.
Over at Marks & Sparks, Rare Pedro Ximenez (£8 for 37.5cl) is a touch lighter and has more fruity freshness. Figs bring the X factor, there’s a velvet encore of coffee and balanced acidity as the curtain goes down.
Next time, I’ll buy ginger cake.
After that, I just wanted a cup of tea which is probably best for the excitable lemon cake. Talking of tea (tenuous link here) I tried a couple of chilled fruity teas (both RRP £1.99) courtesy of the Berry Company (www.theberrycompany.co.uk)
Berry’s Green Tea with Aronia and Blueberry has the haziness of just-squeezed blueberries and is really fruity with just the hint of green tea in the background.
Berry’s White Tea & Peach is a blend of white tea and concentrated peach juice and is pale golden, bright and sharp. Perky peach aromas are backed up with refreshing peach flavours.
To find out more about The Great British Bake Off, click here.
Published in the saturday extra magazine September 26, 2015