Food & Wine our way

(by peter)

Having hesitated initially, this autumn saw us take the plunge and run a full-blown wine and food matching course for the first time under the Winchester Wine School banner.

And boy, are we glad we did.

Last Saturday, 10 of us sat down in the atmospheric timber-framed surroundings of the private room in one of Winchester’s best restaurants, The Chesil Rectory.

This beautiful old venue has been making a name for itself lately with its elegantly executed food and menus that are laudably seasonal and local. They also have a commendably eclectic and well sourced wine list, with lots of little treats for the adventurous.

Our menu (with accompanying wines, all sourced by us) for this food and wine matching lunch was as follows:

  • Salmon and cod rillette, country toast, tomato jam (Cartagena Tres Viñedos Sauvignon Blanc 2009, San Antonio, Chile, 14% – £9.99, M&S)
  • Breast of Blackmoor Estate pheasant, bread sauce, root vegetable chips and roasting pan juices (Volnay Champans 1er Cru 1999, Marquis d’Angerville, 13.5% – c.£50, WWS private cellar, ex Justerini & Brooks)
  • Barber’s cheddar, biscuits, spiced pear chutney (20-year-old Aged Tawny Port, 20% – £32, Marks & Spencer)
  • Apple jelly with blackberries and Calvados Chantilly (Riesling Auslese 2007, Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg, Von Schubert, 8% – c.£20, WWS private cellar, ex Justerini & Brooks)
  • Coffee/tea and petits fours

The following video features the lovely venue, a table groaning with glassware, and one very excited host:

We kicked off proceedings with some fun taste experiments featuring aroma phials (Nez du Vin), Jelly Beans and anonymous white powders – all entirely legal, I hasten to add.

We then moved onto to some wine and food matching exercises. The first illustrated the concept of good and bad food matches, for which we used the both mild goat’s cheese and dark chocolate with Laurent Tribut’s fine Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2006 (£18.63, Justerini & Brooks).

Tasting a bit of fresh lemon in between sips of Ayala Zéro Dosage Brut Nature Champagne NV (£24.95, was a revelation – completely changing the nature of this ultra-dry style (the point being to demonstrate how fresh citric flavours of some nibbles enables this style to come into its own). There was a general agreement in the room, however, that this particular wine had the quality and balance to work well on its own.

In the course of the hugely enjoyable lunch, we touched on everything from cheese starter cultures to high-street wine discounts, pausing periodically to chew over the wine and food match in question.

One lucky taster, Linda, even walked away with a signed copy of The Wine Opus (RRP £50). However, given the considerable weight of this grand tome, this may have been something of a mixed blessing on the walk home after such a fine lunch.

Our final course of the autumn season is our Back to Basics Christmas special on Weds 24th November in the Wintonian Room at the Winchester Guildhall (click here for more details). It runs from 7.30-9pm and is already promising to be a well attended session with plenty of festive frolics – including the chance to walk away with that ideal stocking filler: a free copy of The Wine Opus. We can’t wait!