Food & Wine pairings: Our very own Jancis Robertson has all the Answers

by Rebecca Leigh, The Poor Print Oenophile

Hilary ’15 Week 2 Wine Recommendations

wine and food pairing 2

Picking the right wine can really enhance a dish for any occasion – including formal hall! So have a look at these recommendations for this week’s formal hall menu. Always remember to drink responsibly, please, and remember these are just suggestions – you can always substitute your favourites for what I say.


Cauliflower and coriander Soup

Breast of chicken with cream cheese and basil
Roasted Mediterranean vegetables
Parmentier potatoes

Spinach and feta tart (V)

Pear tarte tatin

The creamy, cheesy chicken of the meat option could be paired nicely with the Norte Chico Chardonnay, which is unoaked, dry and light.

Feta is really easy to pair with wines as it is very flexible. A Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, or a Riesling could be put with it; but seeing as this Sunday’s formal is working on a Mediterranean theme, perhaps the Italian Allamanda Pinot Grigio would be the most appropriate!

Both the meat and vegetarian options both lend themselves to white wines, but again, the Italian Allamanda Sangiovese could be a red substitute: ripe, fruity and medium to full-bodied.

Or, why not start the week off with a fizz and a bang by choosing a bubbly?


Monday of even weeks is Steak Night – something I know I look forward to, I don’t know about you!

Spicy red pepper soup

Beef steak
Fried onion
Mushroom sauce
Jacket potatoes

Tortellini (V)
Artichoke and feta
Basil sauce

Lemon curd pudding with vanilla sauce

With fatty cuts of beef steak, you can go for a pretty robust red, with leaner cuts a medium to full-bodied red. As a safe middle ground, I would suggest the French Côtes du Rhône or the La Promenade Syrah (for something a bit more price-savvy).

Steak is very much a red-wine beast, but especially seeing as the sauce is mushroom-based, you could choose a white instead. ‘Come vuoi tu!’ Rieslings are sometimes praised as a good substitute for red with steak.

To go with the vegetarian option, whilst a basil sauce will temper it, artichokes are a tricky ingredient to match wine to because they contain an acid called “cynarin” which has the affect of making everything you eat and drink taste sweeter. My suggestion is the refreshing and very dry La Serrana rosé, which would be a fruity companion to a dish reminiscent of summer luncheons. It’s also just £6.50 a bottle – a bargain!


Brussels Pate with Cumberland sauce

Breast of pheasant with Bourguignonne sauce
New potatoes

Wild mushroom penne (V)


The pheasant is served with sauce bourguignonne which is made with a base of red wine and as such, a red wine would be the best choice for this game dish. Seeing as we don’t really know what’s been used in the sauce, we don’t need to worry about that. The Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon tastes of dark fruits and goes well with game. The 37.5cl bottle means that this wine is more manageable for a Tuesday night too!

For any vegetarians, the Chilean Chardonnay makes another appearance!


Spinach and nutmeg soup

Roast duck leg
Dauphinoise potatoes

Vegetable cannelloni (V)

Fig tart and cream

To go with duck one might usually choose an acidic wine because duck is quite a fatty meat. Pinot Noir is the usual go-to for duck, but sadly there is none of that on the wine list. So to channel the fruitiness of Pinot Noir, which is what is needed to compliment the rich duck, you could try the Allamanda Sangiovese (dark red fruits), or any other that takes your fancy!

I would recommend a red to go with the vegetarian option too – particularly the Syrah or the Pech Roc Merlot, for some lightness and fruitiness.


Pumpkin and onion soup

Braised venison in port sauce
Spiced red cabbage

Aubergine and mushroom stack served with a herb sauce (V)

Sticky toffee pudding

The venison is served with a port sauce, but don’t reach for the port too quickly because if you’re willing to spend that much money, you could also try the Côtes du Rhône which would suit both the meat and spiciness of the cabbage.

For those eating the vegetarian option today, how about looking to the Syrah? The powerful red will go nicely with the aubergines and the mushrooms. Also, this week is getting a little red-heavy, so, seeing as mushroom and aubergine is often served in a white wine sauce, I would say that you could also look to the white wines section, perhaps to the Sauvignon Blanc from Casillero del Diablo (or the Alta Rita Sauvignon Blanc for a larger bottle and for a South African view on things – some very interesting wines are coming out of that region!).


Tomato, goats cheese and rocket salad

Roast lamb with haricot beans, caramelised onions and broccoli
Pressed potato

Roasted sweet pepper filled with spiced beans and sweet potatoes (V)

Chocolate tart

The Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon would be the sort of powerful red you need against strong, fatty lamb. The fruitiness of the wine (cherries, dark stone and berry fruits) will really add something to the rustic style of this course.

With the sweet bell pepper, I would say avoid the Sangiovese as it could bring out the acidity in the pepper rather than accentuating the sweetness. The Merlot could be worth trying with this succulent dish.

Those are my suggestions for this week. Let me know if you try any of them, or choose another wine which you think goes well!

wine and food pairing

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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