Choosing a wine to drink with a particular dish is a very personal thing – each of us has our own preferences. So, I always advise drinking something you like rather than the wine that someone tells you is ‘right’ for the food.
But, if you keep an open mind, you can sometimes find a pleasant surprise – a combination that you would never have thought about that works perfectly. And sometimes, it will be just the opposite!
We’ve been great fans of wines from the Sicilian producer Donnafugata since we were lucky enough to visit them on a wine tour many years ago. Their ‘Sherazade’ (Corks, £15.99) is a delicious blackberry and herb flavoured red made using the local Nero d’Avola grape. We usually drink it with lighter red meats like duck leg or, perhaps, a mushroom- or aubergine-based dish would work well with its slightly earthy flavours.
The bottle’s back label has an entirely different idea: “drink as an aperitif or pair with pasta dishes, grilled fish or pizza”. We actually tasted a glass before our dinner so tested the ‘aperitif’ theory: both my wife and I thought it was OK but would go better with food. As for pasta, it would rather depend on the accompanying sauce and the same with pizza – you can have all sorts of toppings, some would work others not. And then there’s the grilled fish suggestion. For me, this is a definite ‘no’.
Now, I’m not someone who says that only white wine goes with fish – I’m perfectly happy to drink dry rosé and certain reds with seafood, particularly with the more ‘meaty’ and robust fishes, such as tuna or swordfish. But Sherazade is a red with (at present – we drank the 2019) quite significant tannins – one reason why it made a less than ideal aperitif. Tannic reds will often taste quite metallic and unpleasant with fish dishes. We didn’t try this bottle with any fish, but, from experience, I wouldn’t recommend the pairing.
But, clearly, the winemaker would, so it all comes back to my 1st sentence: that wine and food pairing is a very personal thing.