I don’t need an excuse to take up British food and wine challenge!

Laithwaites food and wine pairing

I can spot a food and wine Scientific Experiment a mile off. When online wine merchant Laithwaites told me they were bigging up Britain’s regional dishes with food and wine pairings it didn’t take me long to get out the pans and start cooking. This is how I got on.

Château Le Coin Sauvignon Gris 2015

Sauvignon gris is a white grape typically used in white Bordeaux blends. The wine is a pale gold, and apricot aromas ping from the glass, together with a wet day in a barn, gooseberry and a speck of spice.  (12.5% abv, £8.79) Find it here.

laithwaites food and wine pairing sauvignon gris
Welsh rarebit and sauvignon gris

Food and wine: I cooked Welsh rarebit and managed to drop melted cheese everywhere, including on the dog. The wine found a hint of sweetness it didn’t own before, the spice developed and Yowzah this grape wasn’t hiding in the shadows any more.

Von Reben Riesling 2015

This wine is a pale lemon colour and a nose-dip brings squidgy apples and stone fruit. A taste is rewarded with long-lasting mouthwatering lemon and limes. (12% abv,  £9.99)

Food and wine: Balti curry, which was created in Birmingham curry houses. In the spirit of the experiment I bought a chicken balti takeaway. The wine’s acidity cleansed the palate between each mouthful and the citrus sparked perfectly against the spices. The stone fruits were lost but the citrus rose above like a soprano in a choir.

Los Rosales Chapel Vineyard Merlot 2014

It’s a huggable Chilean deep red and aromas flirt with plums and black fruits; a sip brings soft tannins and spice-dashed black fruits. (13.5% abv,  £8.29) Find it here.

Laithwaites food and wine pairing
Merlot and a slither of Cornish pasty

Food and wine: A Cornish pasty was the suggestion. I’m just about to get it from the oven … I’m back. My pasty is full of warm melting potato and peppery pork. The pairing doesn’t take the wine and food to another level – but neither do they have a tastebud fall-out. Merlot is a food friend but it sulked a little at the pastry. You know what? The sauvignon gris welcomed the peppery flavours and was perkier with the pastry.

Altitude By Duorum 2014

This is a full-bodied deep deep red, like a dark velvet dress worn by a brooding Scarlett O’Hara. It hails from the Douro in Portugal and is a blend of three native grapes, touriga nacional, touriga franca and tinta roriz. It has a big fruity nose, together with hints of earth and violets; a year in oak adds spice to flavours of black fruits.
(13.5% abv  £12.99) Find it here.

Laithwaites food and wine pairing
Scouse – and a yummy red

Food and wine: Scouse – diced lamb, potatoes, onions and carrots. I’d thrown in lots of pepper and the wine was up for that – and the lamb was rich enough to stand up to the wine’s boldness.

I’d better get back to the diet.

Reviews first published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals  

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

Lidl’s French wine promotion delivers some great bargains

red wine glass

There’s a lovely lady I work with who keeps a special diary. It’s a diary of all the really really important events that take place in the country – nay, the world – at all times of the year.

She does other things too, this lady, very important things; but to me her diary is the most important thing of all.

For instance; I can tell you that recent Very Special Events included National Curry Week and Chocolate Week. It was also National Knitting Week.  If you had a celebration, I hope you  didn’t drop any stitches.

I think there should be an all-year-round event labelled Let’s Celebrate Great Wine Bargains. I’d even bake a cake.

The reason? A few weeks ago Lidl added 48 wines to its range, from across all of the classic regions of France including Bordeaux, the Loire Valley and Burgundy.

Lidl is one of the supermarket chains really upsetting the apple cart for the Big Guns at the moment, and this new range is expected to drive people even more to the stores. The French wine promotion in the UK is worth £12m and the Lidl group have sourced 5% of Bordeaux’s yield.

Lidl wines review

Lidl’s own consultant Master of Wine, Richard Bampfield, has cast his expert eyes (well, tastebuds) over the wines … and by Jimminy there’s some great bargains.

Ben Hulme, senior wine buyer, says: “We feel confident about the launch of our new French wines. We want to aim at people who have not considered us previously. The message is ‘come and a give it a try. Pick up a few bottles and see if you like them.”

I imagine you probably will. But you’ll have to be quick as the wines are available while stocks last and not all wines are available everywhere, and even if they are, there might not be alot of them. Keep an eye out nonetheless.

The best sellers, I’m told, have appeared to be Cotes de Gascogne 2013 (£4.99) Fitou AOP 2011 (£5.99) Bordeaux St Emilion AOP 2010 (£8.99) and the surprising one which is particularly popular, the Monbazillac AOC 2011 (£7.99)

 So, in my glass, three from Lidl:

Chateau Marjosse, Lidl
Bordeaux Chateau Marjosse 2012

Bordeaux Chateau Marjosse 2012 (£8.99) A fruitful deep red, the luscious-lips red of a 40s Hollywood siren. Truckles of black and red berry fruits, some spice and a mouth-watering juicy burst of acidity.

saint emilion grand cru lidl
Chateau Larcis Jaumat 2012 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux

Chateau Larcis Jaumat 2012 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux,  (£12.99) Loving this.  A wave of red berry fruits from the glass, rich and inviting, then a plummy depth of  raspberries and hedgerow fruits; bound up with spice, peppering away at your senses.

Domaine de Grangerie Mercurey 2012 Burgundy

Domaine de Grangerie Mercurey 2012 Burgundy (£9.99)  Medium-bodied, just like me. OK, I lied about that last bit. A tenner’s worth of smoky-edged red fruits, but lean and subtle, elegant and a little frisky on the acidity.

Back to curry and chocolate … I left you hanging there and I apologise.  Some brief wine tips on both, should the fancy take you, though not on the same plate I hope.

Chocolate: Try and match sweetness for sweetness. Avoid tannic reds … think of dessert wines. There’s some nice cheap ones, such as an orangey-flavoured Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro (chocolate and orange … yum) which is widely available for about £7.

Curry: Beer might be best, but if you are a wine freak (High Five) then a carmenere from Chile is a good bet or with a Chinese or Thai curry, try a riesling.

This first appeared in the saturday extra magazine October 18, 2014 

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