This week Roque and Luke head to Spain’s smallest DO; Monterrei, found nestled in the hot depths of Galicia on the border with Portugal. They enjoy a bottle of Terras do Cigarrón which is part of the Martín Codax family. They also chat ideal dinner guests as well as how to pair wine with junk food snacks.
This week Roque and Luke head back to that wine making giant Cataluña to DO Conca de Barberà and go for something a little more exotic. A rosé made by Josep Foraster from the indigenous Trepat grape. They also get geeky talking about winemaking techniques and discuss why a wine might have?milk in it?
FISH AND CHIPS
You ask anyone from Spain to name British dishes and first of all they will snigger directly in your face. Then when they have composed themselves they will almost always say ‘fish and chips’. No dish has become so entwined into the nation’s culinary heart than this one – it is Britain’s answer to the paella.
It can be, and often is, delightfully greasy Friday night takeaway food, but when cooked elegantly is perfection. A lightly battered and crispy flank of cod, plaice or haddock usually, accompanied with some chips, mushy peas and daubed liberally with malt vinegar and salt and perhaps a side of ketchup or tartare sauce. Heaven.
So what to pair with this fishy, salty, tangy, carby plate? I have chosen a crisply acidic and fairly full-bodied Godello from the region of Valdeorras. The big citrus fruit kick from the wine should sit nicely alongside the fish, whilst the acidity should help tackle the salty vinegary nature of the dish.
The pie that isn’t really a pie. Shepherd’s Pie is a minced lamb combination of meat, peas, carrots, onions, garlic (and other bits) covered with a generous layer of fluffy mashed potato (at its best with mustard and cheese in it) and baked in the oven. The dish is at once light but also very filling with strong flavours of ‘meat’ and ‘potato’. A dish for a chilly winter evening.
So to pair with this boldly flavoured dish I have chosen a red wine that is noted both for its elegance and minerality as well as, depending on the producer or site, its spicy and fruity intensity of flavour. A bottle of red from Bierzo made from the Mencía grape. The body and power of the wine, though more restrained than some wines of Spain, should go toe to toe with this classic dish. Also works with the pork mince variation of the dish: Cottage Pie.
STEAK AND KIDNEY PIE
Another classic pie, steak and kidney; a sexy saucy thick gravy blend of chunks of beef, diced kidney, onions and spices wrapped up in a shortcrust pastry and popped into the oven. At once this dish is rich and spiced but also gentle and smooth. An intriguing blend of depth of flavour and delicateness.
To go with this dish I have chosen a fruit forward wine that can match the flavour intensity but won’t overpower it. Try it with a good quality bottle of Garnacha from the region of Campo de Borja. Pleasing red and berry fruit flavours with not too heavy body but with good acidity and a hefty level of alcohol. Should go perfectly with this staple of British cuisine.
The Sunday Roast is perhaps the only dish to rival fish and chips for gastronomic fame. Roast beef or roast lamb are the two quintessential roasting meats. Not only are you going to have a big meaty flavour to deal with, but then you have the roast potatoes, parsnips, Yorkshire puddings, gravy, steamed vegetables, gravy and the accompanying condiments of spicy horseradish for beef and tangy mint sauce for lamb. It’s a busy and complex plate.
This therefore requires a complex and intense wine, but without lacking elegance. We are heading to Cataluña for a bottle of red Montsant: often Garnacha blends. These wines can take on a lot of depth and fruity darkness that should go well with the big, but almost sweet, flavours of the Sunday Roast.
What wine to pair with a cooked stomach filled with offal, onions, oatmeal, suet, spices and stock? The eternal question facing the wine-loving Scot. Haggis is one of my most favourite dishes. It is an intensely spiced and meaty flavour that is often accompanied with mashed potatoes and turnips (‘neeps and tatties’) and perhaps a sensual whisky cream sauce. I love it with a cold beer or a dram of peaty whisky. But wine?
I have gone off piste for this one and chosen a heavy and alcoholic Oloroso sherry from Jerez. In Spain this fortified wine with its notes of spice, caramel, nuts and soft leather can go well with hearty stews and, more importantly, offal dishes like tripe, oxtail and pork cheeks. I think this wine with the Haggis will be the perfect Hispano-Scot pairing!
TOAD IN THE HOLE
Another stalwart classic of British cuisine with a ridiculous name, Toad in the Hole is a dish of pork sausages (of various flavours) cooked in the oven in a Yorkshire Pudding batter and served usually with onion gravy and vegetables. It is simple, hearty, but quite delicate and elegant in its flavours.
I didn’t want anything to big to overpower the soft and almost sweet flavours of the batter, the pork or the gravy, so I have opted for a dry Spanish rosé from Navarra. Spanish rosé wines are almost always dry, so forget that Californian White Zinfandel nonsense, big on booze and colour and are great food wines. Rosés have characteristics of both white and red wines, so they are some of the best food pairing wines. Try it!
STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING
I personally believe that what Britain does better than the world is desserts, or ‘puddings’. A combination of hearty and gleefully unrestrained unhealthiness matched with a certain delicateness and finesse. For the most luxuriantly sweet of British desserts, I have chosen possibly the most lusciously sweet wine in the world: Pedro Ximénez (PX), also from Jerez, but whose grapes are usually grown in neighbouring Montilla-Moriles.
PX is the grape and is grown, picked, and then dried out on straw mats under the sun until they essentially become like raisins. This concentrates their flavours and their sugars and produces mind-blowingly sweet syrupy wines. This should pair well with the moist sponge cake covered in the signature toffee sauce – and with bonus custard and vanilla ice cream on top for good measure. Pure decadence.
Let no man say that Britain doesn’t have good dishes and let no other man say that all you have to go with it is beer or cider. Now you have Spanish wines at your disposal!
This week sees Roque and Luke head back to the world of Pagos for a bottle called Pilas Bonas from DO Pago Casa del Blanco. They talk and play with wine gadgets and chat, among other topics, nonsense about wine mysteries. Salud!
This week sees Roque and Luke returning the lands of the north, the mountainous Basque Country and the wonderful world of spritzy Txacoli! But this time it’s DO Txakoli de Getaria, grown on the doorstep of San Sabastián. A glitzy and fun bottle from Txomin Etxaniz. Expect the usual nonsense and banter from everyone’s favourite drunken fools.
This week Roque and Luke head to the depths of the depths, to the border with Portugal and DO Arribes. A spicy and fiery bottle of Abadengo that uses the bizarre Juan Garcia grape as its base. They also talk wine colours and Roque tries to convince Luke with his sangria recipe.
This week Roque and Luke get their faces round a smashing bottle of red from DO Montsant. A bottle of Can Blau from the originally named Cellers Can Blau. They bubble in the heat of summer, talk a touch of nonsense and get talking about wine festivals.
This week sees Roque and Luke returning to the heartlands of Aragón for a bottle from DO Calatayud created by Scottish Master of Wine Norrel Robertson at his bodega El Escocés Volante: the Flying Scot. Aaaand there’s the classic banter ranging from wine smells to godly abilities. Salud!
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On this podcast Roque and Luke take a voyage back to Catalan lands: DO Tarragona. They will try a bottle of Terrer d’Aubert 2013, from Vinyes del Terrer wineries. As well as answering the listeners’ questions they also act like complete pillocks.
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This week sees Roque and Luke flying back to the Canary Islands, and back to old volcanic Tenerife. But, this time, to the south side and a bottle of mysterious wine called Chasnero from DO Abona. They talk volcanic soil and artwork and descend briefly into utter madness.
Thanks to Dave Watkins for providing the wine!
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