Here at Enotria&Coe, we love our wine just as much as we do our food. But what we love the most, is when the two harmoniously combine. Whether you’re entertaining friends at home, or crafting a dining experience at a Michelin Star restaurant, we think creating the perfect food and wine matches is where the true fun and, indeed, magic happens.
So, for our tasting of a delightful array of wines from the south of Italy last week, we thought we’d mix things up a bit, and let our guests pick their top food and wine pairs of the day. Split into two groups, the teams had more than 30 wines to choose to match with three dishes from Texture’s Scandinavian-inspired menu.
Over the course of 30 minutes, the teams had time to taste and test the different flavour combinations, before presenting their winning pairs to the judging panel, made up of Kathrine Larsen MS, Jon Pepper MW, and Francesca Planeta.
New season Wye Valley asparagus
goat’s cheese, snow, hazelnuts
Black Angus Beef, rib eye
chargrilled, short rib, horseradish, morels
New season English strawberries, caramel, malt
Team One – Captained by Chris Losh, Imbibe
“For the asparagus we had a little play with Caggiano’s Greco du Tufo, but then we veered back to Planeta’s La Segreta Grillo. We figured that the sauces in the dish were quite subtle, so we didn’t want anything too over the top. There’s an attractive minerality and slight grassiness to the wine, which worked well with the asparagus without smothering any elements in the dish. This was actually a relatively easy match. We briefly dabbled with the Grecco di Tufo, but once we set our eyes on Grillo there was no going back.
“There was already quite a bit going on in the main course. We settled quite quickly on Santadi's Terre Brune from Sardinia. We thought it added a nice lift to the dish, cut through some of the richness, and even worked nicely with the creaminess of the horseradish. So that was a 95/100 match as far as we were concerned.
“We struggled a bit more with the dessert, particularly as there wasn’t as many sweet wines to choose from, and also it turned out that no one in the team had a particular sweet tooth! Essentially, after working our way through some of the dessert wines on offer, we landed on Librandi’s Ciro Rosato. It took out some of the sweetness of the dish – particularly with the caramel and chocolate – and it worked flavour wise with the other elements. This helped the dish to finish on a refreshing note, rather than a sweet one, which, especially at lunch is a good thing.”
Team Two – Captained by Dominic Jacobs , Owner of The Running Horse, Mayfair
“We also went for Planeta’s Grillo. It cuts through the cheese and creamy elements of the dish, but doesn’t overpower any of the other elements. I think it was a natural choice. Some of the other wines, coming from such hot regions in Italy, tend to have much rounder, buttery flavours, which you don’t necessarily want when you’re pairing with quite a creamy dish. The acidity and minerality in the Grillo was just the thing to cut through the flavours.
“For mains, we stuck with Planeta and their La Segreta Nero d’Avola. Here, the wine offered quite mild and savoury flavours, which matched well with the light red meat.
“Finally, for dessert, we went for Varvaglione’s Malvasia del Salento. Initially we looked at some of the sweet wines, but they didn’t complement the strawberries and chocolate as well, so looked at the other end of the spectrum with something more refreshing. The Malvasia cut through the ice-cream well and offered a nice contrast to the chocolate.”
So there you have it, the opposing teams locked in their selections – sharing only one wine in common – but the finally judgement would be left with our expert panel.
The judges’ verdict
“What today has really demonstrated, is what a huge range of wines we have to match with different dishes; and how there are so many arguments for and against each match,” Jon said.
“Of the whites, it was a pretty easy decision. Team One picked Planeta's La Segreta Grillo, as did Team Two. So I think we can probably call that a score draw. This is a great wine, and it’s so nice to see such appreciation for this newcomer in our portfolio, and one that offers really phenomenal value for money. A lot of depth, some nice freshness and is particularly food friendly.
“On the reds, we had two different choices. Team One chose Santadi's Terre Brune, and Team Two again chose Planeta's La Segreta but this time the Nero d’Avola. Two very contrasting wines. The Nero d’Avola has a distinct freshness, vibrancy, pure fruit, and is slightly less complex. The Terre Brune is a bolder, and more complex wine, with savoury and meaty notes. We thought the combination of this savoury, meaty style in the Terre Brune, as well as the more complex aromatics – the darker fruit and earthy undertones – picked up both the meat and balsamic in the dish a little better than the Nero d’Avola. So our choice of the two was Team One with the Terre Brune,” Jon concluded.
“For dessert, Team One chose Librandi’s Rosato, while Varvaglione’s Malvasia was the choice for Team Two. Both wines again have a wonderful creamy, rounded texture that paired well with the dessert, but the thing we ended up judging the winner on was where the aroma matched the best. And for us, that was the Rosato from Librandi. The pretty berry, country fruit aromas matched so well with the core element of the dessert, which was the strawberries,” Kathrine said.
So there you have it, Team One were the victors. But of course, as Jon alluded to, there are so many fantastic combinations, many of which come down to personal preference.