From veggie barbecues to indulgent dinner parties, 7 wines for May

There’s plenty of inspiring things to cook in this month’s IndyEats, so it’s only fair to round up some tempting tipples to go with them. Terry Kirby’s on the case

Saturday 01 May 2021 07:30
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here is a generous serving of great things to cook and eat in this month’s IndyEats, with some tempting recipes for those following a green, plant-based diet, but not forgetting the carnivores as well. So what wines are we going to drink with them?

MOB Kitchen’s terrific dinner party recipes call for very different wines for each dish – although some of these would also be great with the Green Barbecue and vegetarian recipes we are featuring. The tomato and mascarpone tagliatelle, with its creamy, garlicky, tomatoey flavours calls for a light- or medium-bodied red to cut through, particularly one that can take a slight chilling at this time of year: just an hour in the fridge will suffice. Sicily, the home of great pasta dishes, makes gorgeous lighter reds, such as the Sibiliano Organic Nero D’Avola 2019 (£8.95 stroudwine.com£8.99 robertsandspeight.co.uk) – easily gluggable, with soft but succulent, dark cherry fruits with just a hint of fruit’n’nut chocolate in the background; Sicily’s signature grape at its best.

For something slightly more special occasion – these are dinner party recipes, after all – splash out on the Donnafugata Vittoria Frappato DOC “Bell’Assai” 2019 (£26.33 tannico.co.uk) made from the lesser-known frappato grape, but even juicier, lighter and fresher than the nero d’avola, and, incidentally, a great red wine for fish dishes. The latter is organic and vegetarian and the frappato is also vegan, so would also be a good match with some of our vegetarian recipes – particularly the green mac’n’cheese with an almond crumb where, again, both would counterbalance the creamy, cheesy flavours.

The Thai fish sauce wings, like all southeast Asian dishes, present a bit of a problem for wine lovers, since the sriracha/chilli flavours tend to conflict both with robust reds and delicate white wines. Careful choices are needed. I would go for a grassy, zesty New World sauvignon blanc, such as a classic Marlborough SB, with oodles of citrus, gooseberry and tropical fruit flavours, like the Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Valley Marlborough (£10.00; normally £12.00 asda.com£16.99 ocado.com), which will work very well with all such Asian foods.

Rose wines can also happily match chilli-spiked foods, but be careful to pick a very dry, orange-tinted southern France or Provencal rose, rather than the fuller flavoured cherry red versions; try the Foncalieu Griset Rose 2020, (£9.99 affordablewine.co.uk), which unlike most roses is not made from red grapes, such as syrah or grenache, but from sauvignon gris, which is actually a relative of sauvignon blanc. This is bone dry, with persistent flavours of tangerines, lemons, a hint of white pepper and hillside herbs, and needs to be drunk very cold; a screw-capped picnic delight as well. It is another vegan wine, so would be terrific with the Green Barbecue dishes, especially if you are cooking on a hot day.

But with dishes such as the crispy gnocchi and the chipotle mushroom and black bean burgers, packed with strong, earthy, smoky, notes, you may also want to try a flavour-packed southern French red, such as the Calmel and Joseph Terrasses du Larzac 2018 (£13.99 waitrose.com), a classically robust grenache, syrah and mourvedre blend, redolent of Mediterranean sunshine, from a highly reliable producer and made with grapes from the Terrasses du Larzac in the Languedoc area, one which has a growing reputation for producing excellent wines.

Or try the M&S Found Mazuelo Rioja 2019 (£8.50 marksandspencer.com), a stunning gem from M&S’s interesting new Found range of wines, featuring lesser-known grape varieties. Mazuelo is better known as carignan, but is only used rarely in rioja as an addition to the usual tempranillo. Here it is given a solo outing, showcasing its bold, rich, spicy flavours. Again, both these wines are vegan, so are perfect for anyone on a plant-based diet.

The latter two reds would also be perfect with MOB Kitchen’s showstopper dish of slow roast lamb flatbreads, but because this is very much a traditional style Middle Eastern dish, I’m also going to suggest a more special occasion wine from the Lebanon – which has been producing wine in small quantities since ancient times and despite the conflicts which have racked the country. The Chateau Ksara Reserve Du Couvent 2017/18 (£14.00 hic-winemerchants.com: various independents), from the country’s oldest winery, is a classic French bold and smooth blend of syrah, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, but is given a distinctive spicy kick with warm vanilla and oak notes and just a beguiling hint of cinnamon and cloves: an appropriately Middle Eastern touch for this fragrant lamb feast. Probably best uncorked when you put the lamb in the oven; you just have to resist sipping it for 12 hours or so…

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