Deep fried Mars Bar? You need a Valpolicella with that!
In a bid to get Britons more likely to sample of some of the nation’s most celebrated and unusual culinary creations, our taste experts have created the first ever wine pairing guide for the regional dishes of Britain.
It follows new research from Laithwaite’s Wine, which shows many of the dishes featured have yet to be discovered by most of the nation, or are in decline.
The good news is that almost half (47%) would be more likely to try a dish for the first time if it came recommended with a wine pairing.
That’s why our expert buying team have taken their taste buds on a regional tour. They’ve paired the perfect wines to help elevate dishes such as East London’s pie and mash with liquor sauce (Malbec); Cornish Pasties (Merlot); Northumberland’s pease pudding (Viognier), Birmingham Balti (dry Riesling); Haggis (Rioja); Arbroath Smokies (Tio Pepe En Rama sherry) and ‘Welsh caviar’ the seaweed-based Laver bread (Prosecco).
Wines to match the UK’s most exotic dishes
London and the South East
Jellied Eels – London’s East End classic is becoming increasingly hard to find and would work exceedingly well with a Cava. Although if it’s served with the traditional accompaniment, chili vinegar, you may want to consider a Riesling (Dominio de Los Duques Cava Brut, £10.49).
Pie and mash with liquor – Traditionally served as eel pie you’ll now find minced beef has taken over in traditional pie and mash shops. The parsley sauce adds a peppery note. For this reason go for a hearty Malbec from Argentina (Inca Tree Estate Vineyard Selection Malbec 2014, Mendoza, £12.49).
Whitstable Oysters – You could go for a Chablis or a Chardonnay, but for us it has to be champagne (Paul Goerg Premier Cru Brut Tradition Champagne, £24.99).
Cromer Crab – The light, subtle flavour of crab would be overpowered by most wines so go for the nation’s favourite wine a light Sauvignon Blanc (Shingle Peak Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Marlborough, £13.99).
Cornish Pasties – Beef, swede and onion encased in pastry is a dense and hearty snack or a meal on its own. Works well with this smooth, plummy Chilean Merlot (Los Rosales Chapel Vineyard Merlot 2014, Rapel, £8.29).
Stinking Bishop – The name of this Gloucestershire cheese is derived from the variety of pear which is made into a ’perry’ and is used to wash the cheese. Delicious with a Somerset cider or this Gewürztraminer with notes of spiced lychees and apricot (Les Dents de Lion Gewurztraminer 2014, Vin de France, £10.99).
Laverbread – The fact it’s not a bread may be confusing to those on their travels. Known as ‘Welsh Caviar’ this seaweed-based puree is usually coated with oatmeal before frying. Eaten with fried bacon, cockles or as a sauce with lamb or seafood this packs an extra punch with a glass of Prosecco (Ca’ Bolani Frizzante Prosecco, £8.99).
Welsh Rarebit – Much more than cheese on toast, the Worcester Sauce, mustard and Guinness adds lots of spice and bite. An easy choice would be a Guinness but for wine buffs go for a Sauvignon Gris. This spicy white from Bordeaux has a citrus finish that makes this a winning pair (Château Le Coin Sauvignon Gris 2014, Bordeaux, £8.79).
Glamorgan Sausage – This meat-free sausage is made with Caerphilly cheese, leek, mustard and rolled in breadcrumbs and found in many restaurant menus all around Wales. Fabulous with a Chenin Blanc (Stellenrust Heritage Collection Chenin Blanc 2015, £10.49).
Balti –The Balti was developed by Birmingham curry houses the 1970s to be lighter, cooked with vegetable oil rather than ghee, to appeal to British palettes and tummies. It’s standard to have a cold beer with a Balti, but we’d recommend this chilled, dry Riesling with an intense lime finish with your take-away (Von Reben Riesling 2015, Rheinhessen Qualitätswein, £9.99).
Bakewell Tart – The traditional Derbyshire cake (or pudding) has raspberry jam and almonds as strong flavours with the pastry so we need a sweeter wine such as this sparking Muscatel to match. Works equally well with strawberries and cream (La Vida Bonita Moscatel 2014, Valencia DO, £3.49).
Lincolnshire Sausage – Commonly dominated by sage rather than the more peppery flavor found in other regional sausages such as the Cumberland. This requires a full bodied red such as this Syrah blend with a generous taste of ripe, black fruits (Château Millegrand Mourral Grande Réserve 2013, Minervois AOC £7.49).
Melton Mowbray Pork Pie – The meat used is fresh pork which is naturally grey when cooked, like roast pork, not pink like other pork pies which used cured pork. Try this regional classic with a medium bodied red such as this juicy, fruity recommendation (Maison Dominique Piron 2014, Beaujolais-Villages AOC, £8.99).
Lancashire Hotpot – The most commonly eaten regional dish nationwide, the lamb or mutton stew is best with a robust Rioja. Even Betty could be converted (Los Hermanos Manzanos 2015, Rioja DOCa, £8.49).
Scouse – A lamb or beef stew from Liverpool, similar to Lancashire Hot Pot, but traditionally served with red cabbage and pickled onions. Originally a working class dish, Scouse is experiencing a culinary comeback thanks to chefs in the North West putting it on the menu. This deserves a full bodied red, rich with complex berry flavours such as this Duoro from Portugal (Altitude By Duorum 2014, Douro DOC, £12.99).
Parmo – This distant relative of veal parmigiana is found almost exclusively in the North East and is not for the faint-hearted. A chicken escalope, breaded, deep fried, smothered in béchamel sauce, melted cheese and ladles of garlic sauce. To compliment this Teeside titan we’ve gone with a light and refreshing Chardonnay from the south of France with peach aromas and hints of blossom (Marcelin Cuvée 1907 2015, Pays d’Oc IGP, £9.99).
Pease Pudding – A Northumberland savoury dish made of boiled vegetables and spices is similar to hummus in appearance. Most commonly served with gammon, so we’ve opted for a full-boded, dry white blend of Viognier and Chardonnay (Lobster Shack Chardonnay Viognier 2015, Western Cape, £10.49).
Haggis – Customarily enjoyed with a dram, this dish also works just as well with the right grape as well as the grain. Try a full-bodied Rioja with a ripe, red fruit taste such as this choice from one of Spain’s multi-award winning family producers (Familia Martínez Bujanda Old Vine Garnacha 2013, £9.49).
Arbroath Smokies – Famous in Scotland, but not enough elsewhere in the UK. Haddock is salted and smoked overnight giving it a wonderful creamy texture. This Tio Pepe from Jerez smells salty like the sea and has a smoky finish that compliments the fish perfectly (Tio Pepe En Rama NV, Jerez DO, £15.99).
Deep-Fried Mars Bar – Edinburgh and Glasgow both lay claim to being the original home of this famous local delicacy. Deep fried, with caramel notes and a serious sugar hit, you need a bold wine such as a Valpolicella to come in and take control. This Ripasso style Valpolicella from Venetia with a rich, dense black cherry flavor does the job (Poggio al Lago Ripasso 2014, £12.49).
Len Sexon, Wine Education Manager at Laithwaite’s says: “On average each buyer will try over 8,000 bottles of wine a year across the world. Our travels mean we get to sample some of the celebrated and obscure regional dishes in places such as France, Spain, Italy and Eastern Europe but never from Great Britain”
People get excited about provenance when sampling new and exotic food dishes overseas. Yet we’ve got our own rich and diverse regional food culture to discover. These foods can be enjoyed even more with the right wine to compliment everything from Whitstable oysters, local cheeses or the dear old deep fried Mars bar.”