Expert Wine Advice for You and Your Alligator

Please welcome our friend and weekly wine advisor Tom Greef. He is the Wine Specialist at our local Waitrose and he has kindly agreed to share some of his vast knowledge to guide us and our readers to making the best choices in terms of palate and budget alike. All you ever wanted to know about wine but were afraid to ask, just send your questions by clicking the ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of this post and we’ll put them to Tom.

“At least once a day a customer will ask me to help them choose a wine to go with their evening meal. The foods I get asked to match wine with are almost always, Fillet steak, salmon and roast chicken. Occasionally somebody will throw me a curve ball, something a little different, a welcome break from the norm. They are still usually fairly simple things to match such as chicken pie, spaghetti bolognese, lamb tagine or a curry.

“However, it is the dishes that really challenge me to match the right wine that excite me the most – the foods that make you analyse the ingredients to their base characteristics. Whether it is slightly earthy beetroot or a sweet and acidic cherry tomato, I find it is fruit and vegetables that provide me with the most interesting puzzles.

“From my four and a half years working with wine, I have found that Vegetarian meals are ones that very rarely enter my radar. Why this is I do not know. There are beautiful and very straightforward non-meat meals out there and after reading Astrid and Erik’s recent blog ‘Can’t forget the Kitchen Garden’ I felt a piece about vegetarian food and wines that suit might be appropriate.

“Take some Porcini and chestnut mushrooms and make a delicious risotto. This would be brilliantly suited to a Pinot Noir or a light to medium bodied Italian red such as a Barbara d’Asti as the smoothness of the wine would complement the creaminess of the rice perfectly. Roasted tomato soup is so effortless to make, and it’s acidity is wonderfully matched with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and if you like it a little hotter, add some chilli and roasted garlic and then match it with a New Zealand Riesling which will provide that acidity to rival the tomato but add a sweet fruit touch to help with the chilli spice.

“The key thing to remember with food and wine matching is that whilst there are general rules to follow, such as a bold, spicy red for a fillet steak or an acidic white for salmon it all boils down to what you enjoy. So if you are positive that Champagne and chocolates are a match made in heaven (I am sat here shaking my head side to side as I write this) then that’s what really matters. Just always try and consider what else sits on the plate, such as the sauce or some strong flavoured veggies and make sure the wines don’t over power the food whilst not being lost in the shuffle. Food and wine is all good fun and I look forward to my next challenge. I’ve never been asked about Aligator yet, hmmm…”

Look out for the next Recipe post for Beetroot Soup and Tom’s recommendation for an intriguing South American wine.

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