Wines and seasonal produce
Author: Sophie Nicoll
Our taste for wine largely changes at this time of year from lighter summer-time wines to to rich, warming reds and full-bodied whites. This really complements this richer seasonal food because one of the key principles of food and wine pairing is to match the weight of the food to the weight of the wine.
And in the land where food and wine matching is traditionally the forte – France – their farmer markets were a feast for my eyes and temptation for my stomach on a recent trip to Provence. Seducing me with ripe juicy figs, vibrant orange squash, horse chestnuts and earthy mushrooms freshly picked from the ground, the rows of tables were just a sea of ripe fresh vegetal flesh.
The following Sunday that I returned to the UK, I was hosting a small farewell party for one of our friends using a case of wine recently bought. Using local seasonal farmshop I prepared a menu inspired from that French market. Here is the menu:
To start, we ate french onion soup with a doorstop of freshly baked French baguette (of course not with the fresh French garlic butter that you’d get in the homeland of this special dish!) paired with Berrys’ Own Selection New World Chardonnay, a fleshy white with fuller body to complement the weightiness and strong flavour of the soup.
For the main I braved cooking rabbit and mushroom risotto, arguably a more Italian- than French-inspired choice but nonetheless delicious. Two wines were offered to give interest: a Fleurie made from the soft Gamay grape which is unoaked and low in tannins to promote the strong savoury flavours of the mushrooms, alongside a crunchy red cherry Valpolicella. to complement the delicate gamey flavours of rabbit. These both went well, but the Valpolicella pipped the Beaujolais to the post this time as the slightly heavier body allowed both the ceps and rabbit to shine in the heavier base of the risotto.
To finish, we cooked freshly baked fig and cinnamon tartlets and ate with cream which we tried with the effervescent Cerutti Moscato D’Asti. Possibly not a traditional pairing, but the slight acidity cut through the cream while the pretty meringue-like sweetness worked well with the figs.
All in all, a rather ambitious plan for the evening but was rather a fun and great way to indulge my food and wine experimentation with friends.