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STRAIGHT OFF THE VINE.

Byline: Neil Cammies

I AM currently selecting some wines for a charity dinner I'm helping to host in September and giving a chef pal some assistance -whether he needs it or not - to put a wine list together.

I know there are no hard and fast rules to food matching, however you can use a few guidelines that will enhance, not detract, from a lovely plate of nosh.

Fish normally goes well with crisp, white wines and great coastal regions will have their natural accompaniments.

Areas such as the south-west of France by the Mediterranean has wines such as Picpoul de Pinet - perfectly suited to delicate fish dishes, Muscadet hails from the west of the Loire Valley and the great seafood city of Nantes and on the Gallician coast of Spain to the north west is the region of Rias Biaxas and the super grape varieties of albarino and godello. I think you get the picture.

If poultry is on the menu then you can ramp up the weight a tad.

White Burgundy can be a belter, with chardonnay taking centre stage. It can range from a steely, mineral-laden Chablis to the north of the region to a Macon, with plenty of sun on its back and a smidge of oak, to the south. Both will do a sterling job with a lovely roast chicken with all the trimmings.

You can, of course, go a little heftier still and plump for a barrel-fermented white Rioja - there is considerable value in this sector - with some lovely examples around a tenner.

Light reds will always work as a one-size fits all wine - suiting a wide range of dishes - look to a crisp, perfumed Beaujolais or maybe even a tarrango, a variety that hails from Australia and does a very similar job to the gamay grape found in Beaujolais.

You can, of course, choose either of the two red wines that make up the majority of posh wine lists - Bordeaux and Burgundy. The latter is lighter in style and made up of that super-sniffy, narky grape variety pinot noir. So posh, that if you bought a box of them it would probably be velvet-lined.

Again, there is value to be had as long as you do a little research into growers and negotiants. The big boys of Louis Jadot and Louis Latour have straight up Bourgogne, a wine from the region of Burgundy as opposed to a specific area or vineyard, that again hover around the PS10 price point.

Bordeaux is a fuller bodied red that is normally a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot that can include cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot and sometimes carmenere, and suits red meat.

There has been a leap in quality in more reasonable Bordeaux - mainly due to the New World countries producing wines of a great value to quality ratio snapping at their heels, so its a good time to buy.

Especially when coupled with the long tradition of drinking Bordeaux with food that has been going on for hundreds of years in this country @NeilCammies neil.cammies@walesonline.co.uk When font of all wine knowledge Gerard Basset OBE puts his name to a wine book, it's probably worth a nose. Currently the only person in the world to be Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, Wine MBA and the World's Best Sommelier title and co-founder of the Hotel du Vin chain, his input in the delightful tome 30-Second Wine is refreshingly free of jargon and flowery nonsense (See my column for that!). This useful and delightfully packaged book covers many subjects such as regions, personalities, production and varieties - which are cleverly illustrated to show the aromas and tastes that should be associated with them. A cracking little read and as it implies, it should only take you 30 seconds to cover each subject - an aperitif if you will.

Both will do a sterling job with a lovely roast chicken with all the trimmings
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 15, 2015
Words:658
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