Thoughts on food and wine pairing

I must say right at the beginning that I am no expert on pairing food and wine.  I have always believed that one should drink what one likes to drink with what one is eating; and in our household we generally enjoy red wine much more than white. Whilst I do accept that on occasion if you match the perfect dish with the perfect wine, one plus one can equal two and a half… and possibly even three. 

What then has brought me to write this piece? The other evening, we gave a small dinner party and I decided to accompany the dessert with some cantuccini, those small almond flavoured Italian biscuits. On reading the packet, it suggested that they were the ideal accompaniment to one’s black coffee at the end of the meal, or why not, as an alternative, try dunking it in your favourite red wine? Whilst I am quite predisposed to having an almond flavoured coffee, or even a coffee flavoured almond biscuit, I shudder at the thought of destroying the flavour subtleties of my glass of Burgundy or Bordeaux. By a stretch of my imagination, I can see the slight possibilities in a marriage of a poor white wine taking the biscuit, but red wine is several steps too far.  

Many bottles of wine now offer food suggestions on their back labels. Just at random, I have taken a couple of bottles of wine down from the rack behind me. The first is a Navarra Reserva. This says rather unadventurously, “It will go perfectly with red meat or game.”  The second is the Clô Portuguese white wine from the Setubal peninsula, south of Lisbon. This has a broader outlook, describing itself as, “A great Portuguese wine that everyone can enjoy every day.” I think this corresponds more closely to my philosophy! 

 The one piece of advice I can give you is that great wine deserves great food… and vice-versa. 

– Christopher Fielden

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