I was lucky enough to be taken out for dinner last night by a girlfriend as a belated birthday meal. As she left the choice of venue to me, and I had a taste for red wine (!) I chose the modern, airy and elegant Ascot Grill, thinking I’d pare my tastebuds with a juicy steak. I really fancied a glass of Chilean Cab – fresh, fruity and appropriate for midweek and ordered the 28 day aged Casterbridge rib eye. I then found myself facing the pursed eyebrows of the delightful Loic, who suggested I’d be better off with the Pinotage. Not being a fan I stood my ground, but he was determined to convince me so brought over a small glass for me to try. I did, and though I remained unconvinced, it made me consider that maybe it wasn’t my wine choice that was compromised, but the food?
Perhaps Loic would have been better off suggesting that if it was the Cabernet I had my heart set on, I may have been better off with the duck for example? As it was I very much enjoyed my steak and also enjoyed my wine but have to agree that they didn’t particularly set each other off terribly well.
The idea that a wine choice could provoke a food choice, rather than the other way round, sent me searching and I found a veritable movement in this direction. Victoria Moore, wine writer for The Telegraph published an article just recently in which she revealed how smart phone apps are springing up which allow you to scan a QR code on a bottle in a supermarket and up pops a list of suitable food to go with that wine. The Wine Society have added a ‘wine-matching’ section to their site where they suggest a wine to go with particular a dish. Nothing new here, except this works like a language dictionary where you can reverse it. Input a certain wine and it will suggest various generic dishes that compliment it. Oddbins are also offering dinner ideas for certain bottles of wine.
While the idea of ordering a glass of wine and then matching your food choice to it rather than the other way round, may be a little unusual, who hasn’t fancied a crisp, white on a summers day and found themselves eating a buttery sea bass rather than opting for the Beef Wellington?
I’d be intrigued to know if any readers have come across restaurants that offer food choices to go with specific wine. In the meantime if you go to the Ascot Grill, and Loic makes a wine suggestion – go with it!
By Claire Robinson, BDM Design Restaurants