Did you know that food and wine go together?! Astounding revelation, I know. But this question is more poignant than you might imagine.
If you live in the USA, it is not uncommon to go out for “drinks”, which may not incorporate a lick of food. However, here in Iberia, it is rare that I’ve ever had a glass of wine among natives, outside of a wine tasting, without some bit of food. In Spain and Portugal, wine is food – plain and simple. And if I could ration a guess, I would assume that this same theory could extend to much of Europe as well.
So you would logically jump to the conclusion that wine lovers would automatically hang out with food lovers? Right?! Well, no, that’s not always the case. Wine typically has its own unique following, filled with devout believers passionate in the ceremonial rituals of swirling, sniffing and swallowing. While dedicated food lovers are the ones eager to geek out on a particular cooking implement, intriguing food combinations, or simply creating a killer recipe that makes their dinner guests buckle at the knees. Food lovers cock their heads curiously, as wine lovers rattle off vintages, terroir, tannic grip or aging practices, while wine lovers gawk at the incredible culinary masterpieces fashioned by food lovers. But let’s be clear, these two worlds are far from mutually exclusive, and if anything, they share a strong foundational passion for earthly delights.
It was because of this revelation that we decided to create an impromptu wine tasting last Wednesday night at The Westbridge with approximately 40 London food and wine bloggers. With the incredible help of both Niamh Shields (London food blogger extraordinaire) and Charlie McVeigh (manager of the The Westbridge and a strong social media supporter), we fashioned a ridiculously fun wine, charcuterie and tea tasting. From 7 – 11pm, wine and food bloggers shared their mutual curiosities and perplexities surrounding food and wine pairing.
What was most astounding to me was literally the raw excitement expressed by everyone to share their common discoveries of a particularly good, or really horrible, cheese and wine pairing. Additionally true, the depth of questions were equally as stimulating. Questions such as, “so, how do you actually taste wine anyway” or “I typically don’t like red wines, but this is quite delicious”. Even wine bloggers chimed into the mix with, “so when you judge a restaurant, or a particular dish, are there ethics that food critics need to abide by?” and “Do you feel any of these reds pair well with these stinky cheeses, or would the Cava pair better?’
Was it worth it? Would we do it again? Absolutely!! We all tend to get caught in our small circles, fearful of breaking out of our safety net to include new people, but if you do have the opportunity to share your passion with someone new, go for it! It may not always be positive, but it’s absolutely worth the chance of discovering a new friend.
I have attached the majority of the wines, cheeses and teas we tasted below, in addition to the bloggers that attended the event. I realize we are missing a few here and there, and if anyone can help make the list more comprehensive, we would be very appreciative.
I would also really love to hear your thoughts on what worked with this tasting as a whole. What food and wines paired well for you, and what you might have done differently in the future? As this was our first tasting of this kind, any and all feedback would be wonderful! Please leave one comment down below as to what you enjoyed most!
Finally, if you would like to add your tasting notes on any of the wines below, just click on the link of the wine and you will automatically be send directly to Adegga.com where you can keep a journal of your favorite wines.
Wines Tasted – A partial list as we wait for some of the wines to be confirmed
Libalis 2008, Castro Martin “Family Estate Selection” Albariño 2007, Weingut Clauer Heilderberg Riesling SpÃ¤tlese 2007, Missing at least one amazing white from Montenegro(I believe)
La Jaca Manzanilla, Missing assorted Madeira’s from Justino
Cheese Arrangement by The Cheese Cellar – Thanks to Charlie for the descriptions and names and for getting the cheeses!
Tête de Moines Swiss alpine, rich and sweet from the Bernese Jura. Served on the Girole (above – the only cheese I know which has its own slicer, specific to it).
Tomette Agour Brebis du Pays delicate hard sheep from the Pays Basque
Camembert Artisan Gillot Noir AOC raw, strong Camembert from Normandy
Brillat-Savarin triple-créme Brie from Normandy
Livarot Graindorge a soft, pungent, washed rind cheese from Normandy
Banon Tradition wrapped in Chestnut Leaves, goat’s cheese from Provence (the bounders from Cheese Cellar failed to deliver this so was replaced at the last moment by a large quantity of organic Parmesan)
Cloche Artisan Chevrechard piquant Touraine Goat
Rosary Ash Log light, fresh and our only British entry
The tasting was interspersed with shots of weird and wonderful teas from Henrietta Lovell (Rare Tea Lady).
Henrietta Lovell’s Tea Tasting of The Rare Tea Company
Whole Leaf Green Tea which is hand-fired over a wok to capture the soft vegetal notes of the undamaged leaf with a clean, bright finish. I was most gratified by the number of people who had previously not been keen on green tea but changed their mind on their first taste of the good stuff. This particular tea works brilliantly as a palate cleanser for white wines. I thought it went particularly well with the Riesling.
Oolong. A glorious epicurean tea which lies artfully between a green and black tea. It is only partly oxidised by a great master to reveal myriad flavours. It has a really floral nose, soft apricots and a dry, flinty finish. This can compliment any wine but has the strength of character to stand beside the boldest red.
Food and Wine Bloggers
Gabriella Opaz of Catavino.net
Ryan Opaz of Catavino.net
Niamh Shields of Eat Like a Girl
Charlie McVeigh of Charlie McVeigh
Amy Lillard of La Gramiere
Dino Joannides of The Epicurean
Henrietta Lovell of The Rare Tea Company
Helen Jenkins of The War on Cookbooks
Neil Rankin of The War on Cookbooks
Andre Ribeirinho of Adegga.com
Robert McIntosh ofÂ Wine Conversation
Helen Graves of Helen Graves
Chris Pople of Cheese en Biscuits
Lizzie Mabbott of Lizzie Eats London
Ben Bush of London Food
Danny Kingston of Food Urchin
Bill Roberts ofÂ Bill-Please
Kerri Smith of Dinner Diary
Stephen Tjasink of Dinner Diary
Charlie Nelson of Eat my Nels
Zev Robinson – Whose Bobal Documentary is amazing!
Krista of Londonelicious
Mei of Eat Family Styles
Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth
Pilar Oltra ofÂ AV+
Annabel Schnitzer of The Silver Spoon Eats
Cassie of A Girl has To Eat
Steve Delong of Delong Wine
Ricardo Arambarri of Vintae
Angella Newell of The Tasting Sessions
Hayley Sudbury of The Tasting Sessions
Eddie Correia of The Algarve Buzz