What Wine? When?

Life is too short for lots of things. Stuffing a mushroom, for one (Shirley Conran). Too short to be livin' with stress, for another (Dizzee Rascal). Whilst I agree with both Shirley and Dizzee, my own personal favourite, unsurprisingly, is that life's too short to drink bad wine. Obviously, you should drink whatever you are in the mood for, it’s just that by putting a bit of thought into the matching bit, you can improve a meal no end. And if you are cooking something that requires some effort and time, why not bring out the best in the flavours with a wine that supports the dish rather than works against it? By opening the right bottle mid-week, you can perk up even the slackest meal by making the flavours sing rather than mumble.


The thing is, you need to put it into practice in order to learn from experience. Here are some combinations to try, both classic and not so classic. Remember to scribble a note in your notebook/on your phone so that you can repeat the successful pairings and avoid the ones you don't like. Not that any of these ones won’t work; believe me, I’ve done my homework.


Dish – main ingredients

Classic pairing

Not-so-classic pairing

Simple salad

Pinot Grigio

Picpoul de Pinet (southern French white)

Mushroom risotto


Chilean Pinot Noir

Thai fish curry

Gewürztraminer from Alsace

Australian Pinot Gris


Cabernet Sauvignon from anywhere

Californian Zinfandel

Five-spice pork belly

New Zealand Pinot Noir

New Zealand Chardonnay

Lamb chops with herb butter

Red Bordeaux (Cabernet/Merlot blend)

Argentinian Malbec

Chicken curry (mild)


Champagne (not kidding)



Southern Italian Red (Primitivo, Nero d’Avola)


EXTRACTED from The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club by Helen McGinn, published by Pan Macmillan at £12.99 © 2013 Helen McGinn.


Find weekly wine recommendations on Helen’s blog: www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com


 The What Food What Wine? Splats love talking about food and wine pairing. It's their passion, some might say, their obsession!