Six Real Life Food and Wine Pairings

It’s easy to pair food and wine in a restaurant. You order something fabulous, ask the waiter and sommelier for their help, and pray really hard that they don’t advise you to go with the most expensive bottle on the list.
At home, though, it’s slightly more difficult to make informed choices. For one, there’s rarely an expert on hand to offer advice. More importantly, however, it’s fairly likely that the food you eat at home is slightly less posh than what you eat when dining out - more leftovers than lobster, and more takeaway than tartare. And, sadly, no wine bottle label has ever recommended that you pair its contents with beans on toast.
One of our core beliefs here at Honest Grapes is that enjoying great wine shouldn’t be confined to special occasions. Similarly, we believe that you shouldn’t abandon all thought of complementing your dinner and your drink just because your meal wasn’t prepared by a Michelin starred chef.
Jill, who looks after marketing and events here at Honest Grapes, is passionate about pairing wine and food. To show you how she adapts the by-the-book pairing suggestions to suit her real life menu, she’s selflessly tasted every wine in our Pick of the Bunch Italian Case, and compared how the experts would tell you to drink it with how she actually drank it in her real life.
 
strangola
Wine 1: Strangola Galli Fiano 2012
By the book:
This wine suits seafood and light pasta dishes. Try it with a clam linguini, gnocchi, fish (particularly baked in salt). Simple Campanian fare too: from pizza to Fritto Misto de Mare (fried seafood).
In real life:
I took a bottle of this wine to some friends. I knew they were planning prawns as a starter so thought this would be a good match. However, we opened it straightaway and had a fine old time drinking it with the nibbles: olives, nuts and plain crisps.
 
 
gaviWine 2: Gavi di Gavi Conte di Alari 2013, Villa Sparina
By the book:
The classic pairing with Gavi di Gavi and the Cortese grape is simple grilled white fish, particularly with herbs and olive oil. Shellfish is another winner.
In real life:
I had some left-over roast pork and apple sauce. Made them into a door-step sandwich, and drank a glass of the Gavi di Gavi. That slight prickly sparkle in the mouth cuts through the fattiness. Delicious.
 
 
 
lamadali
Wine 3: Lamadali Negroamaro 2012, Tenuta Fujanera
By the book:
Typically this wine pairs with rich stews and herb-roasted red meats. If the weather is still too warm for hearty winter stews, try the Lamadali Negroamaro with a lamb tagine.
In real life:
I had a Korean takeaway recently. Grilled marinated bulgogi (thin slices of beef) with button mushrooms, onions, ginger and noodles. The Negroamaro, with its fruitiness, alcohol and soft tannins, complemented the flavours of the meal wonderfully.
 
 
terreliadeWine 4: Nero d’Avola/Syrah 2012, Terreliade
By the book:
If you’re still in BBQ mode, then this Nero d’Avola/Syrah is the wine for you. Great with BBQ’d meats, you can also drink it with your Sunday roast if you’ve moved indoors.
In real life:
I came across a recipe for stuffed aubergines with cheese and tomato which I hadn’t made. The result was so very tasty especially with a glass of the Terraliade.
 
 
 
varvaraWine 5: Castello di Bolgheri Varvara 2011
By the book:
This is a red meat sort of wine. Try with roasted lamb – pink of course.
In real life:
A friend returned from a holiday in Tuscany raving about their squid stew. We searched the internet and cobbled together a recipe. My friend said she’d drunk a local red wine with her meal, so, if it’s good enough for the Tuscans… The fruitiness and softness of the Bolgheri Varvara paired surprisingly well. Who’d have thought?
 
 
 
valleWine 6: Verduzzo Friulano Ambrosie 2007, Valle
By the book:
On the dry side of sweet, this Verduzzo Friulano will pair nicely with pastries and fruit-based desserts. Apple cake or an old-fashioned apple turnover would be delectable.
In real life:
Grabbed a bottle of white from the wine fridge; poured a glass and knew straightaway from the glorious golden colour that this wasn’t going to be the cold, crisp quaffable white I’d been looking for. Changed tack and made a supper out of blue cheese, nuts and some fruit. Such a treat!