Matching wine to food has become common practice. But finding the right food to go with a particular bottle? That’s another art altogether.
We all know to pair a crisp sauvignon blanc – such as a pouilly fumé or a Sancerre – with shellfish, and a robust cabernet sauvignon – a classic Bordeaux, for example – with red meat. Some pairings are harder, though.
We have a friend, Nikky, who loves malbec. She started off opting for the fruitier styles from Argentina but, over time, she has developed a taste for the French original.
Cahors is the centre of France’s malbec-growing country. There, they produce wine in two main styles. The first is traditionnel, a more rustic wine where you practically have to pluck the grape stalks from your mouth as you drink. The second is the prestige style, where the wine has more polished tannins and has often been aged in oak.
We found a third style while we were in the area in December: dessert wine.
The bottle caught our eye partly because of its distinctive appearance – we’re a marketeer’s dream – but we were also attracted by the name of the vineyard: Château de Chambert.
We had just found a bottle of the vineyard’s Grand Vin 2009. It had been recommended by Decanter magazine as one of four wines from the area that its experts it deemed outstanding. That was a definite purchase to be made.
“It had been recommended by Decanter magazine as one of four wines from the area deemed outstanding”
The wine seller recommended serving the dessert wine with a very chocolatey pudding.
When Nikky and her husband came for lunch last Sunday, Damon prepared chocolate soufflé tarts with salted caramel. The recipe is from Edd Kimber’s Pâtisserie Made Simple, which I gave him for Christmas.
The wine, it transpires, is rather like port, though less sweet. The wine seller in Cahors also suggested serving it chilled as an aperitif. We had a third of the bottle leftover, so we took him up on his advice yesterday…
Chilled, the wine is very different – less chocolate dessert and more Christmas pudding. We’ll buy that again.