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The old rule with wine is match your white wine with fish, and red wine with meat. But this rule – like most – are made to be broken.
For example, meaty fish like tuna steaks or monkfish wrapped in Parma ham can go perfectly with a lighter red wine, like a a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir from Burgundy.
Similarly, crispy fried beef strips in a spicy Chinese dish might well taste best when accompanied by a crisp, off-dry white rather than a red.
So it’s time to throw the rule book out and listen to the man who knows best – wine expert Tom Cannavan!
Here are some of Tom’s favourite pairings – note how he mixes up the wine with the cuisine.
Served with the dish of fillets of sea bass on a bed of confit tomato, side of Hollandaise sauce:
1. Knappstein The Three 2008, Australia, priced at £8.99 from the Co-op and Oddbins
This is a lovely crisp, but not too dry wine that is delightful with this type of dish. It really matched well with the sweetness of the confit tomatos (cooked with a little brown sugar). However, when added the Hollandaise sauce to the dish, the wine two came into its own.
2. Errazuriz, Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2007, Chile, priced at £9.99 from Majestic, the Co-op and Peckhams:
There is a lovely buttery quality to this that really matched the sauce, and the extra weight and texture of the Chardonnay grape did too - but there was still enough acidity to keep the dish fresh and appetising.
Served with fillet of beef and slow-braised shin of beef and Scottish wild mushrooms:
3. Domaine de Saissac Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, priced at £6.79 from Corney & Barrow (special offer for The Hour viewers: a discount is being offered on this wine if they would like to visit the shop in Ayr to purchase – offer price £5.79 per bottle)
This was a delightful match, with the juicy black fruit of the wine combining well with a little sweetness in the jus, and the tannins in the wine becoming quite soft and elegant against the rich flavours. Again however, taking the wild mushrooms into account made wine two come into its own too:
4. Villa Maria, Private Bin Pinot Noir 2008, New Zealand, priced at £9.99 from Tesco, Sainsburys & Co-op
The soft, sweet fruit of the Pinot Noir, all raspberries and strawberries, was still delightful, and the wine still had enough power to match the beef, but a typical, earthiness to the Pinot Noir was lovely with similar flavours in the beef.