Rob Buckhaven | Perfect Food & Wine Pairings

Food and wine pairing, Rob Buckhaven

Up your food and wine pairing skills with these expert tips from wine expert Rob Buckhaven…

When it comes to food and wine, even a bad pairing is still pretty good. But with a season of barbecues and open-air fandangos on the horizon, it pays to have a small armoury of tips to hone your wine matches. If you’re prepared for the many hours of tasting this will require, here’s a handy guide to how to nail it.

The delicacy of grilled white fish cries out for a bone-dry white like a Galician Albariño, French Muscadet Sur Lie, or the mown-grass notes of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Meatier tuna or monkfish can stand up to a mineral-rich Gamay from the Loire, whilst sushi and sashimi adore the prickle of a dry fizz – especially the lighter Blanc de Blancs Champagne. For smoked fish dishes try a salty lick of dry Amontillado Sherry.

The simple and sweet flavours of fresh shellfish are complemented by an acidity-high Loire Sancerre or lemony Pinot Grigio. Alternatively, why not pop open a Brut Aussie sparkling wine for a cracking pairing with lobster? For prawns cooked with garlic or seared scallops, pull out a good quality buttery Meursault or an aromatic Argentinian Torrontés.

This blank canvas of a bird takes on any flavour you bestow upon it. If you’re tucking into a simple roast, match it with a rich white Burgundy or a light Pinot Noir. Focus on the accompanying ingredients and cooking style rather than the meat itself.

Creamy or buttery sauces go hand in hand with a tropical fruitdriven Sonoma County Chardonnay or a honey-infused Hunter Valley Semillon. It’s no surprise that higher-acid tomatobased sauces scream for brawny Italian reds like Barbaresco or Dolcetto. Meaty, gravy-like sauces go best with structured reds, like a Gevrey- Chambertin or a Côtes du Rhône Villages, whereas fruit-based sauces work well with Spanish Rosados, Austrian Pinot Blancs or soft Merlots. A worthy match for spicy Thai-style green curry sauces is a classic Austrian Gewürztraminer, or a Clare Valley Riesling from Australia.

Enhance the subtle flavours of a simply roasted leg of pork with the crispness of a light red like Chianti, or a Cabernet Franc-based Chinon from the Loire, to cut through its slightly fattier texture.

This game bird has a celebrated affinity with strawberry and cream-laden Carneros Pinot Noir from the US. If you’re branching out to a fattier Confit de Canard dish, try a more rustic Carignan-based red from the Pays d’Oc in the South of France.

Whether it’s a juicy steak or a Sunday roast, bring out the big guns in the form of a gutsy Côte-Rôtie Syrah or, for something more unusual, try an Argentinian Malbec. For thinner carpaccio-style meats, you’ll want an elegant St Emilion, or for stews, you can’t go wrong with a Côtes de Rhône.

Lamb is where you can really show off your super wine palate and where you can push the boat out on a limelight-stealing Rioja Reserva or a fine Pauillac from Bordeaux. If you’re cooking a tagine or stew, try a Châteauneuf-du-Pape or peppery Gigondas from the Southern Rhône.

Tapas is hugely popula these days, so go for a Spanish Tempranillo to partner up with chorizo-infused dishes while salty Parma ham or prosciutto-wrapped morsels respond well to the softness of Beaujolais Villages or the red cherry lure of a Valpolicella.


Presenter and author Rob Buckhaven is passionate about food and drink. He appears regularly as a wine expert on TV, and as a newspaper and magazine columnist. He is a brand ambassador for Rathfinny Estate and can also be found hosting shows across the country, including the BBC Good Food Show, Taste and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival. Follow him on Twitter at @robbuckhaven

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