Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pairing wine with fish

I don't eat fish very often, and shellfish never, but I do know that many people love it and I get questions asking for best pairings. So here are my recommendations...

Person Holding White Ceramic Plate With Green Slice Vegetable

Fancy pants seafood, such as caviar, lobster and oysters, should be served with Champagne, I mean if you're going to indulge lets go the whole hog! Laurent Perrier Le Grand Siecle is something rather spectacular.

It might not be an obvious thought to pair fish and chips with wine, but sparkling wine matches very well. I'd recommend an English brut, such as Camel Valley NV from Cornwall (£26.99 Waitrose). The acidity and the bubbles cut through the batter, balancing the food-wine experience. #bestofbritish

White fish, such as sea bass, turbot, or Dover sole go well with acidic wines, such as pinot grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Why not try a delicious blend of Pinot Grigio / Sauvignon Blanc by Puklavec & Friends from Slovenia (£8.79 Waitrose).

Smoked fish, such as haddock or mackerel, needs a full-bodied white wine, such as an oaked Chardonnay. Bisque, chowder and crab also work well with this creamy white wine - try Maggio Chardonnay (£13.00 Wine Discovery).

Sardines, mackerel and other oily fish should be partnered with aromatic white wines, such as Viognier. The aromatic aromas will balance out the strength of the fish. Try Organic Viognier by Yalumba (£9.99 Waitrose).

Spiced fish, such as Indian, Chinese or Thai should be balanced with wines that have a slight sweetness to them, such as Gewurtztraminer or an off-dry riesling. Try this Split Rock Riesling from New Zealand (£11.99 Laithwaites).

Shellfish such as clams, mussles or scallops work really well with citrus whites such as Albarino or Verdelho from Spain, Portugal or Australia/New Zealand. I love You And Me Albarino from Rias Baixas in Spain (£11.99 Ocado).

Tuna, Swordfish and other meaty fish can hold their own with a light red wine, such as Beaujolais or Pinot Noir. My favourite is this Fleurie by Georges Duboeuf, the "King" of Beaujolais (£12.99 Majestic).

BBQ'd seafood goes really well with a rose, something quite punchy, like this Oaken Grove Benham Blush rose from England (£11.49 Waitrose). It's full-bodied to hold up against the charcoal, yet dry enough to allow the seafood flavours to shine.

Seafood pasta deserves to stay true to its roots and be partnered with an Italian wine, a sangiovese will balance any tomato sauce, and Grillo will balance a white or herby sauce. Try this Chianti from Tuscany by Poggio Castagno (£10.79 Waitrose) or this Colomba Bianca Vitese from Sicily (£8.99 Wine Discovery).

I have been informed recently that prawns go well with dry fino sherry! Perhaps its that connection to 1970s prawn cocktails that started it, but apparently any prawn will do - langoustine, prawn stirfry, grilled King prawns... all match this Spanish tipple. I won't be giving it a try, but let me know your thoughts if you do.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fruity Chardonnay Wine Flight

Chardonnay suffers from an image problem that was introduced by the oaky Chardonnays of the 1990s. Many people still label themselves as ABCs (Anything But Chardonnays), but it’s time for that to end. Chardonnay is known as the ‘tart of grapes’ because it can be made in any style you want – varying from earthy to fruity and from light to rich. In Burgundy and Italy Chardonnay wines tend to be earthy, and in the New World they tend to be fruity. I have chosen here to showcase three fruity Chardonnays that are quite different in style yet none have the overpowering over-oaked flavours that you might fear.

Emmanuel Delaille, Sauvignon Blanc / Chardonnay, Cheverny, France, 2015, 12.5%
This wine uses zesty notes of Sauvignon Blanc to balance the Chardonnay. Often blending
Chardonnay with another grape varietal, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, or Colombard will
move the focus away from the Chardonnay grape, making it appealing to more people. This light
wine has aromas of gooseberry, cut grass and guava and would partner well with a grilled chicken, spinach and feta salad.
Available from Wine Rack £9.99

Peach Garden, Chardonnay, Thracian Lowlands, Bulgaria, 2015, 12.5%
Chardonnays from newer regions, such as Chile, Bulgaria, and Oregon tend to be made in a fruity style, with light oak. This wine is a crisp Chardonnay with citrus and warm peach and hazelnut notes, subtly oaked to give texture and depth. Partner with roast chicken, baked fish and summer salads.
Available from M&S £7.50

Maggio, Chardonnay, Lodi, USA, 2015, 13.5%
This wine has gone through malolactic fermentation, a process that turns the green/citrus malic
acid into creamy lactic acid flavour compounds to produce a buttery full-bodied Chardonnay. Ripe
tropical fruit aromas combined with hints of vanilla on the nose, with butterscotch flavours and a long
finish. Best served with pumpkin ravioli with toasted pine nuts, or cajun chicken.
Available from Wine Discovery, www.wine-discovery.co.uk £13

English Wine Flight

Top Tips
English wine has come a long way from the tart flabby wines that we used to make, to the 120 awards won at the International Wine Challenge 2016. Now even Taittinger, the French Champagne house, has bought some land in Kent to invest in English Sparkling wine. But it’s not just the sparklers that are outstanding, there are some English still wines that are worth a try, and here are three of them. Marlow (where I have my pop-up wine bar) is lucky to have several vineyards nearby, including Oaken Grove, Harrow & Hope, Chiltern Valley (Old Luxters), and Stanlake Park. Lets support our local producers and buy their wines, some of them are really rather lovely. Be aware that ‘British’ wine is different to ‘English’ wine. English wines are made from grapes that are grown here and then the wine is made here, whereas British wines import the juice to make here.

Chiltern Valley Dry, Reichensteiner, 2015, 11%
The Chiltern Valley Winery is based in Hambleden, between Marlow and Henley-on-Thames. It is open to the public and runs tours of the vineyard. This wine is made with the Reichensteiner grape, which ripens well, so is popular in England. This light and crisp white is refreshing and delicious, particularly if partnered with barbecued fish with a wedge of lime.
Available from Chiltern Valley Winery, Hambleden £11.95

Oaken Grove Benham Blush, Pinot Noir, England, 2014, 12.5%
Oaken Grove is a family-owned vineyard based in Fawley, near Henley-on-Thames. This wine is a
dry rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir. Enticing strawberries and cream on the nose with hints of
apple, peach and cherry cobbler flavour characteristics. Great served with pork chop and green beans.
Available from www.oakengroveyineyard.co.uk or Waitrose £11.49

Litmus, White Pinot Noir, England, 2013, 12.5%
Litmus is produced in the North Downs of Surrey. White Pinot Noir is richer than many white wines
because it’s made with red wine grapes. It has flavours of baked apple and pear, with zesty notes of honey, orange and ginger. A lovely full body with light oak. A great match for prawn tempura or turkey steaks in a creamy sauce.
Available from M&S £22

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Portuguese Wine Tasting

I recently attended another delightful Portuguese wine tasting at Exquisite in Marlow. Paulo and Maria are very generous with their pours and provide home-made canapes at the end of the evening.

We started the evening with a palate cleanser Maria Papiola, a lovely white wine from Vinho Verde in north west Portugal. Bright and crisp with low alcohol level, this wine is a delight. You can almost smell the sea its so fresh, with limes, yellow apple and no oak. Would go well with garlic prawns. It's made with the Loureiro and Alvarinho grapes. If you've tried the Maria Bonita at my pop-up wine bar n Marlow, this is quite different, because the Alvarinho brings a sharpness to the wine like a sword cutting an apple. £11.40.

Next we were served Andreza Codega do Larinho,a full bodied wine with peach and pear characteristics. This is made from the same grape as is used for Madeira, but n the Douro region it is grown in high altitudes giving it a lighter characteristic. Great served with pork loin in a creamy mustard sauce and sauteed potatoes. £11.40.

Album Reserva was the first red wine we tried, and with a Petit Verdot anf Syrah base I was delighted to try such a fruity and spicy red fromPortugal. Grown in the Alantejo region,  these grapesproduce a black fruit and black pepper profile. It has high tannins for a Syrah, making it a good candidate for ageing. Great with hard cheese. Also £11.40.

Leaving the best review until last, I have to say I fell in love with Tyto Alba Red. This wine comes from a very old estate within a conservation area. There are barn owls who nest in the forest surrounding the vines, which are believed to protect the vines. Besides the romanticism,this vineyard makes stunning wines. This is their entry level red, also producing a Merlot and a Touriga Nacional I can't wait to try. Beautiful black fruits and violets,accompanied by vanilla and leather. Would go well with roast duck. Not only are the wine and history a delight, but the presentation box is spectacular, with the owl design peeking out of the hole in the box. After taking the wine out of the box you can fix it to a tree for local birds to nest in it. Wine £13.90, box £5  (£2.50 donated to RSPB by Exquisite). Wine available now, box in store in time for Christmas 2017.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pop-Up Wine Bar in Marlow

Princess and the Pinot runs a pop-up wine bar in Marlow to help local people to explore and enjoy wines in a relaxed environment.

The pop-up currently happens every 3-4 weeks, on Friday and Saturday evenings 19:30-22:30 in The Perch coffee shop, 91 High Street Marlow. Next dates are:
Friday 7 & Saturday 8 July
Friday 21 & Saturday 22 July
Friday 28 & Saturday 29 July

It is a pop-up because it is utilising the space of the cafe when it would normally be closed. I bring all my wine and equipment with me and then take it all away again at the end of the evening.

The pop-up is like a wine bar, because you can arrive at a time that suits you, there is no entry fee, wines are served by the glass or bottle, with table service so you can enjoy wine, cheese and charcuterie with your friends. We are different to a wine bar because we serve wines in flights, which are three wines that have been put together to showcase a grape, a region or a style. The flights change each month and previous flights have included:
  • Italian Whites
  • Crisp Whites
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Range of Roses
  • Roses and Chocolates
  • French Favourites
  • Brave New World
  • Aussie Shiraz
  • Italian Reds
  • Big Reds
  • New World Cab Sav
If you would like to find out more about these flights and the wines, please visit www.princessandthepinot.com

Flights are available as tasting flights (3x 50ml) and full flights (3x 125ml). The flights come presented in flight trees with information about the flight, the wines, where you can buy them, and for how much. This means if you find a new favourite wine you can buy it locally to drink at home. There is usually a premium flight which presents three of the best wines on the menu for you to enjoy. I am always available to talk about the wines, discuss your preferences, and answer any questions. All of the wines are wine I drink, so they are all good quality and all good value for money

We serve some light food, including cheese boards, charcuterie boards, bread baskets, and chocolates. Probably best not to consider these dinner unless you've had a big lunch.

If you would like to make a reservation please email soma@princessandthepinot.com

If you would like to keep updated with future events please visit www.princessandthepinot.com/events

We look forward to meeting you at our pop-up!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

English Still Wines

English wine has come a long way from the tart flabby wines of old to the 120 awards won at the International Wine Challenge 2016, and now even Tattinger, the French Champagne house, has bought some land in Kent to invest in English Sparkling wine. But its not just the sparklers that are outstanding, here are some English white, red and rose still wines I think are worth a try.

Ranked by price low-high, supermarket retailers shown where available.

Stanlake Park Hinton Grove, Berkshire (£10.49 Stanlake Park)
Although this is an off-dry aromatic wine, it is beautifully balanced so you don't notice the slight sweetness, making it an easy drinking tipple. Soft and interesting, like spotting an unusual butterfly. Made from Madeleine Angevine, Reichensteiner, Schonburger, Wurzer and Ehrenfelser grapes, this is a complex, well structured wine that will go well with Asian dishes like Thai Green Curry. Also Available from Rebellion Brewery in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

Oaken Grove Benham Blush, Oxfordshire (£11.49 Waitrose or £50 for six if you buy direct)
A dry rose made from 100% Pinot Noir. Enticing strawberries and cream on the nose with hints of apple, peach and cherry cobbler flavour characteristics. Great served with pork chop and green beans. Reminiscent of sitting in an English country garden.

Chiltern Valley Dry, Oxfordshire (£11.95 Old Luxters)
Made with the Reichensteiner grape, this light and crisp white is refreshing and delicious, particularly if partnered with BBQ'd fish with a wedge of lime. Bright and breezy like standing outside on a ferry.

Sharpham Whole Berry Rose, Devon (£14.99 Waitrose)
A pale pink rose with strawberries and cherry blossom aromas. Made from 100% Dornfelder grapes and pressed as whole bunches, resulting in an off-dry wine with summer berries and soft tannins on the palate. Bright, fun and friendly, like a picnic in the park.

LDN Cru Bacchus (£15 London Cru)
Made from 100% Bacchus grapes grown in Kent with the wine made in London. Flavours of elderflower, cut grass and lemon rind, with a lovely mouthfeel from the lees-stirring (batonnage). Complex fleeting floral aromas, like walking through a meadow.

Bolney Estate Pinot Noir, West Sussex (£15.99 Waitrose)
A lightly oaked pinot noir, with medium body, packed with cherries, and a slight coconut aftertaste from the toasty oak. Fragrant and fruity, like walking around a farm shop. Great served with baked Camembert or glazed ham.

Litmus White Pinot, Surrey (£22 M&S)
An intriguing white wine made from red Pinot Noir grapes which results in a dry wine that mixes red and white characteristics, showing both red berry and spice with honey and floral notes. A lovely full body with light oak. A great match for prawn tempura or turkey steaks in a creamy sauce.

Trevibban Mill Black Ewe Red, Cornwall (£33 Trevibban Mill)
A violet colour accompanies forest fruits and star anise on the palate, with a lingering taste of raspberry leaf tea. Comforting and mildly exciting, like picking raspberries in your granny's garden. A complex full-bodied wine with soft tannins made form 100% Pinot Noir.

I ask you to try one (or more!) of the above and let me know what you think.

I will be serving a flight of three English wines at my next pop-up event in Marlow on 2nd and 3rd of June, come and say hello! Email soma@princessandthepinot.com to reserve a table.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Portuguese Wine Tasting at Exquisite Marlow

An intimate tasting with only a dozen people, which meant we could really talk about the wines and listen to what others thought.

We started the evening with a beautifully pale pink rose from Lua Cheia. The vines are so old they don't know what grapes they are. pronounced aromas of peach, roses and strawberry sweets. Beautifully light and refreshing with subtle wild strawberry and mint flavours with a vanilla finish. Reminiscent of a sunny day with your feet dangling in an outdoor swimming pool. At £9.60 its worth a try for something different from Portugal.

Quinta do Alto Premium Selection, 2010

Another wine worth trying is the Quinta do Alto Premium Selection at £21.60. This is a very deep wine wit high intensity. Full-bodied but elegant with high refined tannins. The black spiciness of the wine ends with a lovely raspberry finish. This has won lots of awards, including from International Wine Challenge.

The Cartuxa from Alantejo at £30 was the wine of the night. Beautifully complex and rounded, this is a special wine and best served with BBQ meats. Alantejo is a region that is mostly machine-harvested which means you can get outstanding wines for reasonable prices.

As is often the case at wine club tastings the audience outvoted me. The other guests preferred EA by the same producer as Cartuxa and with the same grape varietals. Much more of an easy-drinking wine, this wine has been designed for the UK market, both the wine inside and the label outside the bottle. At £12.60 I will certainly agree with the consensus that this wine is good value for money.

The next tasting at Exquisite in Marlow is 23rd March 2017 8-10pm £20. Please note, I only reviewed four of the six wines we tasted, and I certainly feel the event is good value for money. Places are limited so please book in advance.