We asked two renowned food bloggers, as well as David Gower and Beth Willard (one of our wine buyers) to create their perfect cricket tea food match, to a few Laithwaite’s wines selection by David Gower for our Gower Selection mixed case.
First up, with his take on the perfect cricket tea, is James Ramsden – named one of The Times ’40 bloggers who really count’ and writer of ‘Small Adventures in Cooking’ and ‘Do-Ahead Dinners: How to feed friends and family without the frenzy’ – to create his perfect cricket tea food match,
Every now and then a study “reveals” wine writers and experts to be full of sediment. They’re tricked into thinking a white wine is a red, into mistaking a first growth claret for a bottle of Buckfast, Soda Streamed Blue Nun for champagne…all good fun, but while I readily concede that there’s a certain amount of bluster and hyperbole when it comes to wine (come to that, when it comes to any area of expertise or enthusiasm), I’d never question the extraordinary depth and breadth of knowledge of those who really, genuinely know what they’re talking about. It can be as enthralling, inspiring – or dull, depending on your interests/the speaker – as an opera buff soliloquizing about Wagner, as an art historian on Rubens. Amazing and confounding at the same time.
Where wine shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be confounding is in the area of pairing wines with food. While knowing your Riesling from your gewürztraminer can be somewhat nuanced, knowing what will taste good with what is far more instinctive, should you trust your instincts. There are few wrong answers.
Of course, it helps to taste the wines, as opposed to simply knee-jeeringly assuming that because it’s claret it will go with a steak.
The lovely people at Laithwaite’s Wine, sponsors of the Ashes and wine merchants extraordinaire, sent me a box of wines with a brief to pair each wine with a picnic item in order to create something like the ultimate cricket picnic. David Gower chose the wines – and very good they were too – and my wife Rosie, my friend Sam, and I glugged them and chewed over pairing options. Here’s what we came up with:
Villa Broglia Gavi: this was a favourite, with a good balance of acidity and sweetness and just the slightest, subtlest fizz on the tongue. We reckoned it would go best with a not-too-sweet pudding – raspberry Eton mess being a sensible choice or, sticking with the country the wine came from, a lemon polenta cake with raspberries.
Domaine de Gassac Rouge 2012: a surprisingly gentle drink, this, with good levels of tannin. While the first wine would have worked as an aperitif, this needs food. Preferably something piggy. A big plate of charcuterie would be ideal, or some pork rillettes.
Blackstrap Shiraz 2010: This is a big boy, rich, meaty, and in need of a bit of opening up. Lots of spice and fruit. Tricky one to pair with on the picnic front because it basically demands a big piece of barbecued meat with it. As a compromise, a good, well hung piece of sirloin, blasted in a hot pan on the outside and cooked pink, then sliced very thinly. Garnish with watercress and the unimprovable horseradish sauce from the first Ottolenghi book.
The Rustler Chenin Blanc 2012: a buttery nose, lovely acidity, entirely gluggable. Perhaps best as an aperitif wine with a few chunks of salty cheese – parmesan, say – or even, sod it, a packet of crisps. Otherwise, try with a creamy blue cheese like a bleu d’auvergne.