Kedgeree was first introduced to the UK from India in Victorian times by those returning from that country after military or diplomatic service. Then, it was mainly eaten as a breakfast dish in some of our large country houses. Today, it is more likely to be seen as a lunch or light supper dish – and that’s when my wife and I enjoy it. But how do you find a wine to pair with a mixture of smoked haddock, pungent spices like cumin and coriander, the sweetness of sultanas and that simple ingredient that is so often described as a ‘wine killer’: eggs?
Let’s start with the basics. Although I’m not one for sticking rigidly to the ‘white with fish or poultry, red with red meat’ idea, in this case, the tannins of most red wines are likely to make the spices taste much hotter (and so, out of proportion with the rest of the dish) and I can’t see a rosé – even the most assertive example – standing up to all those strong and powerful flavours.
So, we’re thinking white wine. But what sort? You might have heard ‘oaked with smoked’ and I certainly wouldn’t put you off a nice oaked Chardonnay as a match for the smoked fish, but the sweetness and spices gave me another idea: Gewurztraminer. The word ‘gewurz’ means ‘spicy’ in German and wines made from this variety often have a slightly spicy edge to them. It’s a grape that is native to both Germany and France’s Alsace region, although it’s now grown more widely – I’ve tasted some lovely bottles from New Zealand, for example.
But we had one from the excellent co-operative in the Alsace village of Turckheim on our shelf (Corks of Cotham, £12.99) and the cool, aromatic, slightly off-dry taste went fairly well. But, as anyone who cooks will know, even if you follow a recipe, dishes don’t turn out tasting exactly the same every time. Perhaps I was too conservative when adding the spices as this Kedgeree wasn’t nearly as flavoursome as I expected. As it was, the oaked Chardonnay might have worked better – or an Alsace Pinot Gris or even a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Next time I’ll make sure I taste the food before choosing the wine!