Matching the right food with the right wine is a challenge and it can be difficult to know where to start. Traditionally, red wine has been served with meat and white with fish. Today, however, with the choice of wines available from around the world, these hard and fast rules no longer apply. To further complicate things, the taste of a wine will alter when you start to enjoy it with food.
Generally speaking, robust flavours in your food, including red meats, tomato, onion and garlic, need robust wines to complement them. By contrast, delicate flavours, such as grilled fish, shellfish and cream sauces, need a wine with a light structure to provide a balance.
At Donnington Valley Hotel’s WinePress Restaurant, sommelier Chris Neeves has hand-picked over 400 excellent wines, 40 of which are available by the glass. The award-winning wine list* has been lovingly arranged into easily understandable categories, including the ‘sommelier’s choice’ and ‘friends of Donnington Valley.’ Neeves’s practical approach is very much about trying and enjoying wines in a relaxed way.
With such a marvellous opportunity to savour wines from all corners of the globe, it would be a shame to just try one. Our suggestion would be to experiment with a different glass for each course. That way, you can still choose an old favourite, but also try one or two different wines as well, with sommeliers on hand to advise you.
For example, from the à la carte menu, the pan-fried scallops, vegetable, tomato and adzuki bean cassoulet, white pudding, pancetta crisp would be perfect with a glass of the 2011 Domaine de Vauvroux Chablis from Burgundy. From the market menu, the chicken breast with gratin potato, roasted courgettes provencal needs a red that really packs a punch, to match the hearty flavour of the provencal sauce. The 2006 Waterstone Syrah from the Napa Valley would be ideal as this Californian wine has great structure and would easily give the sauce a run for its money.
Moving on to dessert, the rocky road baked cheesecake with hazelnut ice cream is a tempting choice, but what to drink with it? Wines from Alsace are becoming increasingly popular, so the 2011 Dopff Au Moulin Gewurztrammer would complement the richness of the dessert whilst balancing with a fresh acidity on the finish. For cheese lovers, a glass of the full bodied Quinta do Crasto 2011 from the Douro region of Portugal would give the intense red fruit aromas to match any cheese on the plate.
If you feel adventurous, look at the selection titled ‘the unusual suspects’ on the list, where you will find wines from places you probably didn’t even know had vineyards, such as Thailand, India, Lebanon and Japan. There has never been a better time to experiment with unconventional wines, and there is no better place to do that than at Donnington Valley Hotel, under the watchful eye of sommelier Chris Neeves.
*2013 Condé Nast Johansens Taittinger Wine List of the Year – Winner; 2013 Condé Nast Johansens Taittinger Best Choice of Wine by the Glass – Winner; 2010 & 2012 Imbibe Louis Roederer Wine List of the Year – Finalist; 2008-13 Wine Spectator – Award of Excellence.