This is an indispensable tool for those who want to follow, in English, what really goes on in the world of Spanish and Portuguese wines – lively, informative and, most important, first-hand, on-the-scene knowledge!
Victor de la Serna http://elmundovino.elmundo.es

London Food and Wine Bloggers Meet-up was a Huge Success

The WestbridgeDid 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.

Cheers,

Gabriella Opaz

Wines Tasted – A partial list as we wait for some of the wines to be confirmed

Red Wines

Herdade do Arrepiado Velho Fosco 2006, La Gramiére 2007, Cortes de Cima Syrah 2005, Domingos 2005, Domini 2007, José de Sousa 2006, Azamor Petit Verdot 2005, Matsu 2006, Higueruela 2008

White Wines

Libalis 2008, Castro Martin “Family Estate Selection” Albariño 2007, Weingut Clauer Heilderberg Riesling Spätlese 2007, Missing at least one amazing white from Montenegro(I believe)

Sparkling Wine

Chozas Carrascal Brut Nature Reserva

Fortified

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!

Hard

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

Cream
Camembert Artisan Gillot Noir AOC raw, strong Camembert from Normandy
Brillat-Savarin triple-créme Brie from Normandy

Stinking

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)

Goat
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 of 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 of 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 of 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

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  • http://www.spittoon.biz/ Andrew

    I didnt go – but wish I had – but this wine and food people mixing is something I've been banging on about since I first started blogging. Well done for actually making something meaningful happen!

  • http://jerez-xerez-sherry.blogspot.com/ Justin Roberts

    Sorry I missed this. Can't complain about the company and wines I had elsewhere, but would have been great to meet all, esp Henrietta who was off the next day to my old stomping grounds on the slopes of Thyolo Mountain!

  • http://blog.delaranja.com andrerib

    It was one of the best tastings I've ever participated in. Mixing wine and food (and tea) should happen more often as it is a great opportunity to discover new stuff. People were nice, conversation was wonderful, wine was goooood and cheese was great!I must confess I'm not usually a big cheese fan but Charlie's choices made me completely rethink what I think about cheese. The Camembert Artisan and he Livarot Graindorge were amazing cheeses that I hope to try againThanks Ryan, Gabriella, Niamh and Charlie for setting up such a wonderful night! Should we do it again ? :)

  • http://jerez-xerez-sherry.blogspot.com/ Justin Roberts

    Lizzie Eats London aka Hollow Legs link not working…Here it is: http://lizzieeatslondon.blogspot.com/

  • http://jerez-xerez-sherry.blogspot.com/ Justin Roberts

    Ditto Algarve BuzzHere:http://www.algarvebuzz.com/

  • gabriellaopaz

    Thanks Justin! Both links have been reset :-)

  • http://www.eatlikeagirl.com/ Niamh

    Such a great great night! Looking forward to doing it again. The wines were delicious, my favourites were the Rieslings, gorgeous. Thanks for making it a very happy evening!

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