Is there an ideal wine match for horse? Of course we all prefer a spot of dressage or a flutter at William Hill to eating them, and the sentimental taboo creates panic when we find horsemeat in our processed foods. How could you eat a Black Beauty, an Arkle or a Dobbin? I was horrified when I went to France as a teenager and came across shops called Chevaline. Not cheval, I whinnied: how could they? But staying with a family that reared horses in Africa, I soon learnt to live with the idea and wash it down with their mature claret.
Bringing salami back from Verona one day, I was recommended a deli whose home-cured salumi gave you the choice between pork or donkey. I chose the pork, although to this day I'm still not sure whether there was a little bit of Eeyore mixed in to make it tastier. No matter, it was as satisfying as the horse stew I enjoyed on the occasion of the tasting of the new vintage of amarone della valpolicella.
Pastissada de caval stewed in amarone is a local Venetian speciality and sumptuous with the powerfully concentrated amarone della valpolicella made from grapes allowed to dehydrate and concentrate in ventilated lofts. If you prefer beef, try Asda's bright, cherrystone 2010 Extra Special Valpolicella Ripasso, £8.98, or, for a truly classy red, the opulent dark-cherry fruit quality of the 2008 Allegrini Amarone, £46.89-£53.25, Majestic Fine Wine, Jeroboams, The Sampler (020-7226 9500), The Secret Cellar (01892 537981), Bennetts Fine Wine (01608 661409), Noel Young (01223 566744).
I was less prepared for the raw horse liver I was served in a sake bar in Kyoto a few years ago. My wife adores horses (riding them, that is), so she was a little taken aback when Philip Harper, Japan's only English master sake brewer, or toji, told us that the dish we were about to eat with his yamahai sake was horse liver sashimi. In fact, not only was it reared on the island of Kyushu for eating, but it had been marinated in sesame oil, ginger and chives and, once we'd cast our prejudices aside, it was quite delicious.
Could wine be embroiled in a similar scandal to horsegate? Of course. Our addiction to processed foods runs parallel to the fact that we like to spend our spare time watching celebrity chefs cooking up a storm on TV. But if we object to finding horsemeat in our hamburgers and we sit watching TV and demand cheap food, why blame the supermarkets, the government and the Food Standards Agency? There's no one to blame but ourselves.
For as long as we continue to demand cheap food and drink instead of concentrating on true value, the supply chain will oblige with what we wish for.
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