Food + Wine = Gongs

(by peter & susie)

Fancy a decadent fizz with your smoked salmon?

Maybe you’re after a great value red to go with your bangers and mash?

Or perhaps all you need is a bargain rosé for your chicken tikka massala followed by a quirky match for your apple crumble…

Well, look no further – because today is the day that the much anticipated results of the inaugural What Food What Wine competition are announced. And there’s something for everyone.

As we wrote in our previous blog, in late June we teamed up with a hugely talented panel of wine and food experts to taste over 250 wines with 10 classic British dishes.

All of us have been fascinated to see the results after we tasted the wines completely blind (all we knew when we were tasting the wines was whether they were under or over £10). But we knew from what we’d tasted that there were some brilliant wines in there.

It’s fantastic to see wines from right across the spectrum represented in the top trophy awards (detailed below).

Among the trophy winners, there’s everything from £3.99 to nearer £30, taking in own-label supermarket wines as well as some of the more celebrated names in wine. Interestingly, there’s a pretty even split between European (so-called ‘Old World’ wines) and New World wines, which runs counter to the notion that European wine styles are traditionally the best with food.

As for what the most surprising results were, we’d have to flag up the following:

  • The £3.99 Spanish rosé with the chicken tikka massala – a pretty fiery, full-flavoured dish beautifully offset by a simple, juicy pink wine
  • The Aldi Bordeaux Superieur (£4.99) with mature cheddar…we’ve never been big fans of reds, especially claret, with cheese (we find they often clash and so prefer whites – the Chassagne-Montrachet which won the over £10 trophy being a brilliant example). But this soft-textured, easy-drinking red made for an uncomplicated, very harmonious match. And of course great value to boot.
  • The Gallo Family Vineyards Summer red NV with apple crumble – a great example of a wine that came into its own with food. Its simple dark fruit flavours went so well with the juicy apples and cinnamon – like adding a handful of blackberries into the mix. Really surprising how it worked.

The beauty of a competition like this, and tasting the wines rigorously blind, is that it does throw up surprising results, free of any of the typical preconceptions that often accompany wine appreciation. So it’s great to see names from both the mass market and the fine wine arena in there, covering all price points and styles.

It just goes to show that all kinds of wines can and do partner food brilliantly well. The conclusion? There are lots of options for wine drinkers out there whatever your taste or budget.

Given the outstanding calibre of the judges and the ultra rigorous way in which this competition was judged, we highly recommend these wines to anyone.

We’d also like to personally thank everyone who was involved in making the competition an outstanding success and all those forward-sighted enough to back it in its debut year.

We’re already starting to get excited about next year… In fact, we’re meeting soon to decide on which dishes to feature, so let us know if you have any particular favourites you’d like to see matched with wines.

What Food What Wine – Awards

You can access the full awards listing on the What Food What Wine website.

This listing has a feature to search for wines by colour, food type, award category and price. The site also has some great videos recorded during the competition on the home page.

You can find more details on where to buy these wines in the UK via the Wines Direct website and also read a news piece about the results on  The Guardian, The Scotsman and The Drinks Business.

Below is the full list of the trophy winners. Wines were submitted in one (or more) of the 10 food categories (you can download Jo Pratt’s brilliant recipes from the website too). An initial judging run designated the wines as rejects or 3 stars (sound match), 4 stars (very good match) or 5 stars (outstanding match).

A second round of judging then selected trophy winners from the 4- and 5-star wines. Trophy winners were selected from both Under and Over £10 categories – ie everyday or special occasion wines – and the overall winner was designated as the ‘Judges’ Choice’.

Smoked Salmon – Best Wine Under £10 – Morrisons Best Australian Chardonnay 2007 (£7.99, Morrison)

Smoked Salmon – Best Wine Over £10 and Judges’ Choice – Champagne Ayala Brut Nature (£25, Mentzendorff)

Fish and chips – Best Wine Under £10 – Annie’s Lane Clare Valley Riesling 2006 (£7.99, Treasury Wine Estates, Hailsham Wine Cellars)

Fish and chips – Best Wine Over £10 and Judges’ Choice – The Crossings Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (£11, Mentzendorff)

Fish and chips – Special Award – Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV (£22.99, Waitrose)

Mushroom risotto – Best Wine Under £10 – Viña Real Barrel Fermented Blanco 2008 (£9.49, Hatch Mansfield)

Mushroom risotto – Best Wine Over £10 and Judges’ Choice – Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 (£11.99,,,,,

Sausage and mash – Best Wine Under £10 and Judges’ Choice – The Patriots Merlot 2010 (£6.99, Laithwaites)

Sausage and mash – Best Wine Over £10 – Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz 2008 (£11.99, Treasury Wine Estates,

Chicken tikka massala – Best Wine Under £10 – Toro Loco Spanish Rosé 2010 (£3.99, Aldi)

Chicken tikka massala – Best Wine Over £10 and Judges’ Choice – Framingham Classic Riesling 2009 (£11.49,

Roast lamb – Best Wine Under £10 – Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec 2010 (£7.99, Stevens Garnier,

Roast lamb – Best Wine Over £10 and Judges’ Choice – Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru 2007 (£16.75,

Lasagne – Best Wine Under £10 – Campo Viejo Crianza 2008 (£6.64, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Sainsbury)

Lasagne – Best Wine Over £10 and Judges’ Choice – Vidal Estate Syrah 2008 (£13.99, Waitrose)

Mature cheddar – Best Wine Under £10 – Aldi Bordeaux Superieur 2009 (£4.99, Aldi)

Mature cheddar – Best Wine Over £10 and Judges’ Choice – Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 2008 (£28.49, Waitrose Wine Direct)

Mature cheddar – Special Award, Highly Recommended – Imperial Reserva 2004 (£19.99, Waitrose Wine Direct)

Apple Crumble – Best Wine Under £10 and Judges’ Choice – Viña Concha y Toro Late Harvest 2007 (£5.99,

Apple Crumble – Best Wine Over £10 – Domaine FL Coteaux du Layon ‘Les 4 Villages’ (£21.99,, Nickolls and Perks,

Apple Crumble – Special Award, Surprising Match – Gallo Family Vineyards Summer Red NV (£6.29, Tesco)

Chocolate Mousse – Best Wine Under £10 and Judges’ Choice – Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro NV (£8, Morrisons, Waitrose Wine Direct)

Chocolate Mousse – Special Award, Surprising Match – Brown Brothers Cienna Rosso NV (£9.99, Waitrose)