We met Janet Reeder of the Cheshire Resident Magazine, who asked us how to treat your guests to a feast of perfectly matched wine and food.
Tell us about your personal wine choices for entertaining. Naturally, we tend to serve our own Tour De Belfort wines to our guests. Luckily we’ve never had any complaints! When we first started producing wine four years ago we had only one white and one red, so it was more of a challenge. Now we have built up quite a selection – Cuvee Classiques in reds, whites and roses, Grand Vins and sparkling wines of different vintages. All are all very drinkable – not too full-bodied, not too dry or too sweet, and therefore tend to appeal to most palates so we have fun putting together combinations that people will enjoy.
Tip: There are some basic rules that can be applied – but these can be adapted to suit your preferred type of wine, region or country of origin.
Can you share some of your tips on wine and food pairing? Pairing wine and food comes down to personal choice, but sticking to a few simple guidelines will please most guests. For lighter food choose light wines. Match the wine with the dominant taste in your dish, taking sauces and sides into account. Are you serving spicy, salty, bitter, sour or savory food? Usually match sweet with sweet, acidity with acidity, salty with full-bodied tannic wines, spicy with off dry (slightly sweet) white wines such as Reisling from Alsace.
Tip: When you are matching the body of the food with the wine, have a look at the wine’s alcohol level which you will find on the label – the higher the percentage of alcohol the more body.
Is it the same in France? In France it’s more straight forward because people tend to drink local wines that pair naturally with the regional food. Almost everyone lives in or within a short drive of a wine region and they enjoy sharing with their guests the story of how they have discovered their chosen wines and vineyards. It is all part of the experience! Because these wines are from their area and their choice of food will generally be based on the regional cuisine, then the wine and food courses tend to pair very well, which means no worries about whether the flavours match. For example, our French home is close to Cahors where wine is traditionally very full bodied. A typical regional dish is duck, Confit Du Canard, which pairs well with the area’s heavy dark grape, Malbec.
Tip: If you’re not sure what to wine to select opt for a wine from the region of your dish.
At this time of year, what type of menu would you serve? At this time of year, what type of menu would you serve? As winemakers we are very much in tune with the seasons and because we are organic producers we really believe in using natural, fresh ingredients when we entertain. In our region of France at this time of year we would perhaps serve Canard a (accent over a) L’Orange with Spring vegetables, baby carrots and leeks, a dish inspired by my Grandma. For wine, depending on our mood, we might go for an unusual option and match the sweetness of the sauce with our own Tour De Belfort Semillion Doux or we would perhaps choose a soft older red, our 2009 Malbec blend with smooth tannins and smoky aromas.
Tip: If you don’t know your guests’ palates, play it safe. Cater to the mainstream palate – not too full-bodied, not overly sweet or overly dry.
Avoid heavily oaked or high alcohol wines, as they’re not to everyone’s tastes. Steer clear of heavy wines that make people sleepy.
Avoid wines that are laden with chemicals as the additives can cause headaches – natural, organic wines are a good option.
Should we stick with specific wines for set courses? In France there is a tendency for people to stick to the rules of drinking certain wines with certain foods. They follow the traditional path of offering white for starters and red for most mains – other than white for fish. It’s different in the UK though where many people have a strong preference for drinking only whites or only reds and depending on your guests, it’s worth bearing this in mind. You will want to ensure everyone enjoys their meal so if you feel some of your guests would prefer a choice with each course be sure to allow for that.
Tip: It is always better to drink white wine before red as the tannin in reds coats the mouth and if you then switch to white afterwards, you won’t pick up the true aroma of the wine; it will have a sweeter taste.