Red Wine with Fish

Red Wine with Fish

Red wine with fish.


White wine with meat. Or maybe it’s vice versa. I forget. The point is there are acres of print and a lot of hot air has been expended on the perfect wine and food combos but in our book rules are made to be if not broken, at least viewed with suspicion. 


The question of the season is or course, what should you drink with your Christmas dinner? The answer, whatever you like.


This could have been the shortest article on food and wine in history but there are a few guidelines we think are helpful and a few surprising matches that pay scant regard to what is “normal” but work amazingly well. Here are a few of our favourites.


If in doubt, go local. Chances are the regional wine will match the regional food so choose something from the same part of the world. Even if it isn’t perfect, whatever that is, it will at least perhaps make you feel like you are on holiday. For example, Vin Jaune is bliss with Comté, a wine and a cheese from the Jura in eastern France. Madiran is the soul mate of cassoulet, two big flavours from South West France, the former a chunky red, the latter a wonderful stew full of beans, meat and a good dose of oh-so-healthy duck fat. Drink the wines of Galicia, “green” Spain on the Atlantic coast, made from Albariño grapes, with seafood fresh from the ocean.


Work to the season. You’ll probably be eating to the season - salads in summer, stews in winter for example - so pick lighter, fresher wines in summer, wines with more heft and weight in winter. 


Go, go Gamay! The grape of Beaujolais, wines made from it are generally light in tannin, big on fruit, happy to be served cool in summer, warmer in winter. Wonderfully versatile there’s not a lot that will “clash” with whatever you’re eating and they are fun to carry on drinking once you’ve finished the food. If you’re having turkey at Christmas, this is a good bet. 


Red wine with fish is no joke. I love reds made with Mencía from North West Spain, an area much better known for its whites. I love pulpo (octopus). The two together are heaven. A fish stew, heavy with garlic and tomato, is gorgeous with a bright Italian red from Tuscany.


Soft rind cheeses are so much better with a rich but dry white. Red can taste metallic and fruitless. Vacherin Mont d’Or is back in season (arguably the best thing about winter) so grab this opportunity to apply two of the rules; go local with a wine from Savoie and pick a white one.


Ask. The sommelier, the shop assistant, the wine grower, the farmer. I met the producer of a wonderful white Verdejo from Segovia in Spain recently and asked what she liked to eat with it. Japanese food was the answer. Who knew? 


Two to try:

Domaine Lapierre, Raisins gaulois, Vin De France  - Actually from Beaujolais this goes amazingly with chocolate desserts. See? Gamay winning again! Blanc de Noir Champagne also works, particularly with chocolate mousse.


Slobodne, Veltlina, Slovakia - Orange wines, that is wines made with white grapes treated like they were red, leaving the skins in during fermentation, are sometimes difficult to love but come into their own with food, particularly strongly flavoured food. This one is a bit of a hybrid where whole bunches of Grüner Veltliner grapes are added to a regular white fermentation. It’s great with a lamb curry.