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May 5, 2012 11:09 AM

With and without food.

I have been drinking wines outside my usual Ca. comfort zone and have come up to another issue. I have been eating at several "French Bistro" type restaurants and drinking only French wines. I had a CN--P with a steak frites meal last night. The wine was fine with the meal but I could not say what it tasted like. I mean if I was to make tasting notes, I'm not sure I could. The wine was full bodied, but after the first bite of food, the wine becomes almost invisible on the palate. It is easy to drink but hard to discern the flavour. It seems to me that when drinking wine with dinner or food, unless the wine clashes strongly, the flavour mutates into a "drinkable sauce" that blends into the food but loses its individuality.

I begin to understand the criticism of California fruit as not so food friendly, as they seem to stand apart from food, but few people will crack open a CnP for a lazy, kick your feet up, weekend quaff.

My question is, how to determine if a wine is food friendly or just for drinking? And besides sparklers, which do you think are really both?

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  1. Depends on the food. One could argue that zinfandel, petit sirah, and South American malbec are good "fireplace wines," but they also do well with grilled meats like burgers, sausages, and sometimes steak.Also, I can enjoy a thirst-slaking Muscadet on the patio in summer, but also with shellfish or mild fish dishes.

    1. I drink a lot of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and I have often been disappointed when I have opened one for dinner guests. As you describe, they have been undistinguished. I think I am opening mine when they are too young. After a long decant and when my guests are long gone, I find them delicious. Usually, it’s not possible to get an aged CdP at a restaurant. I have had some restaurant bottles that were excellent with my meal, so I assume those were designed to be consumed as younger wines. I find a good wine pairing reacts with the food and creates new, enhanced flavors. I paired a bottle of Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel with my wife’s pan-seared pork chops with shallots and an apple cider-pan juice reduction that worked unbelievably well. Because of that success, I ordered a Carol Shelton Rocky Reserve Florence Vineyard Zinfandel with pork chops at a restaurant. However, the star of that meal was the wine paired with the chicken pâté appetizer. For me, it’s all a big experiment.

      1. I can, and very much do, appreciate a good pairing, but my love for wine comes from wines I've enjoyed sipping on their own.

        Also, as I tend to not eat foods in the French cusine type category, The fact that a wine is more "food-friendly" with say steak, doesn't really appeal to me.

        20 Replies
        1. re: goldangl95

          ok, I'll bite -- what DO you eat, then?

          1. re: sunshine842

            I guess being from California, and of a rather diverse ethnic background, everything else? On any given day it's usually Indian, Thai or Chinese. Sometimes Sushi or Mexican.

            We only, on occasion, get a steak, roast chicken, lamb chops, pork tenderloin etc. and cook it in the "standard" manner. Probably once a month. Otherwise we're using soy sauce, or fruits, or chipotle, or a chimchurri sauce, or BBQ, that definitely makes the food not as wine-friendly with French old-world styled red wine.

            1. re: goldangl95

              fair enough -- I was just coming from the angle that an awful lot of French cooking isn't fancy -- but almost all of the the things you mention would go well with any of a number of French old-world style whites.

              1. re: sunshine842

                Eh. It can actually be pretty tricky, sushi can bring out some strange metallic flavors in whites. Thai, Indian and Chinese can be super sweet, funky or spicy to the point of really obliterating all the wonderful qualities of the whites. In order to get it right, one would have to really know how that exact wine will go with the exact food, we tend to buy wines in twos or threes instead of cases, so that becomes hard to do.

                There are of course rieslings, sparkling and other wines that *tend* to be good, but it's quite the narrow range of white wines to pick from.

                1. re: goldangl95

                  Wine for Sushi??? Ever hear of Sake? They're the best pairing. after that, for me comes sparkling, and often Chenin blanc.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Exactly my point. In this day and age, many many people do not eat food on a daily basis that easily goes with old-world wines, or frankly any wines. So this idea, that a certain wine is better because it goes with food, only really works if one's diet mainly consists of European centric/influenced cuisine.

                    As a result, whether a wine is a food-friendly wine (by Western standards) is not really a factor I consider.

                    1. re: goldangl95

                      >>> In this day and age, many many people do not eat food on a daily basis that easily goes with old-world wines, or frankly any wines. <<<

                      And how is this day (and age) different that all other days?

                      1. re: zin1953

                        Ah, yes let me try to clarify. For example, historically Asian countries have not been wine cultures. But this is starting to change. More and more people are starting to fall in love with wine, while their food tastes run in rather different directions.

                        This may lead to 1) more varied and different winemaking styles developed 2) new pairing ideas and "conventions" and 3) the continuation of certain demographics evaluating their wine apart from food.

                    2. re: ChefJune

                      Personally, I am a big fan of domestic (US) SB with sushi. I have a few favs., and often go to them.

                      I have been to dozens of sake/sushi tastings, and seldom really get those pairings, but that is just my palate - who can argue with history?

                      I also enjoy Rosé bubbles with a load of Asian foods. Again, that is MY palate, and maybe not for everyone.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        I agree with Bill. Short of a really delicate Daiginjo, I feel like a lot of sakes would clash with sushi. I'd much rather have a beer ;)

                2. re: goldangl95

                  I was just having a discussion with my spouse about this very issue. We have a wine collection for fun and profit. I sell at auctions, but we also have been "drinking it down" for over three years now. Mostly aged Bords and Burgs and aged Napa cult cabs. My "drinking down" has come to a slow crawl. It is directly related to a change in our food choices and lifestyle.

                  We cook outside at least 6 months out of the year. I am consistently choosing bold Napa and WA wines, crisp Spanish and Portuguese wines and big Aussie wines. They just go better with what we are eating and when and where we are cooking and eating.

                  Tonight was ceviche and handmade corn chips with butternut squash coconut soup- outside on a coolish, sunny day around the fire pit. I "paired" it with a Left Coast Cellars Chardonnay. I put "paired" in quotes -as it is really more about having the wine stand on it's own- against the food...and not clash. Both wine and food were fabulous but I can't say that either "enhanced" one another. Many foods I prepare these days would likely not be "enhanced" by the wine or vise verse. But heck...I would drink wine with a PBJ if I could. I love wine :)

                  1. re: sedimental

                    This menu made me want some de Heredia viña Tondonia Bianco something fierce

                    1. re: plaidbowtie

                      Oh yes, I am sure that would have been wonderful too. I don't have any aged Spanish whites, just a few select bottles of medium weight red Rioja Alta that I am saving and wouldn't drink on an average dinner at home. I *do* really like Spanish whites for summer :)

                      I have been really going out of the box on wine and food pairings. I attended several Napa wine and food events last year, took a few classes and got inspired to dump the more "tried and true" (but tired, IMO) pairings. There is a Napa event called Flavor! that is very inspiring using big wines and bold food. I don't recall one chef that was interested in being traditional (Keller, Blais, Conant, etc) with food and wine pairings. Very refreshing and inspiring to the "wanna -be home chef" :)

                      Last night I was very happy with an appetizer pairing of blanched asparagus (cold) with a creamy dip of light lemon, dill, and fennel pollen.......with a very "herby" and heavier Washington State Sav Blanc. It was terrific!

                      1. re: sedimental

                        It's easy for a chef to be "daring" with wine pairings, it's not their job, or fault if they don't work! ;)

                        1. re: plaidbowtie

                          Well, thank goodness that great chefs are brave, as it keeps things interesting and fresh!

                          I often wondered how they put together tasting menus. It was interesting to hear how certain chefs thought about putting together pairings. I was hoping that Morimoto would talk about his thoughts on wine, maybe this year.

                          1. re: sedimental

                            The simple fact is that a large percentage of chefs aren't trained sommeliers. There's a reason the two of them both exist. Does chef A maybe know a little bit about French wine? maybe? Does he even care, may be a better question. Chefs are chefs- their job is to cook you dinner. Personally, I wouldn't want Morimoto to pair my wine, I'd rather look to his sommelier.

                            1. re: plaidbowtie

                              Then I guess you wouldn't learn anything or be inspired at this type of event. But I highly recommend this type of event for anyone that wants to be more creative and non traditional with food and wine.

                              1. re: plaidbowtie

                                Maybe that is why Michael Mina (and Jason Berthold) use the expertise of Rajat Parr, their sommelier, to do the ultimate pairings.

                                As far as "caring," that might well explain why some chefs do not have wines, that pair well with their menus?


                              2. re: sedimental

                                Just did a culinary event with Chefs Michael Mina and Jason Berthold (RN74), and wine pairings were a big part of their demo. That was a bonus to me (and my lovely, young wife), as we always try to pair our foods and wines, whether at home, or in a restaurant. Both chefs were very heavy into the wines, that paired with their dishes. In our case, we had a bunch of the wines from Nierpoort (Portugal), to pair, and loved it.

                                I have had some great "Chef's Tastings," where the sommelier dropped the ball, and have graded those down, based on the overall experience.


                              3. re: plaidbowtie

                                I encounter many "failures" in the course of a year. That is why I taste my wines, with my wife's recipes, and maybe even for a whole week - we want the ultimate, that we can provide.

                                Some chefs do not consider wines, but many (most?) do, and will work closely with their sommelier, to make sure that all works perfectly. That is where I am coming from.


                  2. For me, all wine is at its best with food. But not just any food with any wine! Even so, it is not hard to find good wines to go with what you are eating. Rich foods are complemented by wines with lots of acid because it cuts through the "rich," for instance.

                    I don't know what "CN-P" is. Perhaps you are referring to Chateauneuf du Pape? That's generally referred to as CDP or CduP. And it is a blend of up to 13 different grapes. Most of it in USA is drunk WAAAY too young. and when it is too young, it can taste muddy. It requires very long decanting in that case, to even be drinkable. However, after 7 or so years, depending upon the vintage, the wine matures and from then on (almost in some years to infinity) provides mind altering enjoyment. It's best with assertive food, strong meats such as lamb cooked with lots of garlic. It is not a wine I would recommend for fireside sipping. but it is one of my all-time favorite wines.

                    How to determine if a wine is food friendly? Soft tannins (not young Cali Cab!) good acidity, not too high in alcohol.... all these attributes contribute to a food friendly wine.

                    Besides sparkling wines, I think Beaujolais (not Nouveau!) all Pinot Noirs (from Burgundy and the new world), French chardonnays and Sauvignon blancs, Italian Sangiovese, many Roses.

                    But wine traditionally is intended to be drunk with food -- from way back thousands of years before the Christian Era.

                    51 Replies
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      "But wine traditionally is intended to be drunk with food -- from way back thousands of years before the Christian Era."

                      Well, mainly because nothing else was safe to drink.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Right. That came a bit later, but ale and wine (and eventually tea) were it for quite a while.

                        2. re: Brad Ballinger

                          but the point was that -- guess what -- the more creative (and those who had the luxury of food to work with) created dishes that marry well with the wines of their region.

                        3. re: ChefJune

                          This really only applies to areas with traditionally strong wine growing regions. Otherwise, a ton of food (see my posts above) do not go with wine and as a result a ton of wine does not go with lots of food. Yes, you can force it and sometimes it works incredibly well, but it's a risky, chance-y thing.

                          1. re: goldangl95

                            Everyone's entitled to their opinion.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              There's a wine for every food (except perhaps salty/shrimp paste) and a food for every wine.

                              1. re: Iowaboy3

                                Yes, but it isn't necessarily the old-school reds, that are often touted as food friendly (say red wine from France). As our palates, and the food we eat, diversifies it is only natural that some wines that were previously "food friendly" are not necessarily so.

                                This also means, if one does typically eat Asian, African, Middle Eastern cuisine, BBQ, the fact that a Pinot from France is supposedly better because it is more food friendly with traditional French cusine, than a Pinot from California, starts to loose its relevance . . . .

                                For example, if someone walked into a wine shop in SF, and said they wanted to start a small collection of wine that they can pair with the food they eat, and they ate a diverse cuisine. . . . I would probably explain to keep a lot of Alsace/German/Austrian whites around (and some sparkling) and then just buy what the person would like as a cocktail wine . . .

                                1. re: goldangl95

                                  Lots of North African restaurants serve red and rose wines with their meals -- especially from winemakers in northern Africa.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Well N. African reds for me, are not necessarily encompassed, in the term "Old-school reds," neither are Roses. And actually, the N. African red example is a great example.

                                    I recognize the fact that they are an old, old wine growing regions in Morocco and Iran. But to clarify, when I refer to the term "old-school" or "old-world" I am talking about a wine-making style most associated with certain regions of France. There are many individual producers across the world who want to mimic that style.

                                    But, my basic point is that to exalt an old-world style red wine as being better because it is the most "food-friendly" is no longer necessarily the case. It's only the most food-friendly if you eat a rather narrow set of the worlds cuisine. They may work o.k......but it may be very well the case that a more new-world style wine may work better . . .

                                    I mean i'm obviously just one person. I just get tired of hearing people praise French red wines for their balance and food-friendliness and condemn the rest as "cocktail wines." For me, the french red wines are just as problematic with food as any new world red wines. And so "food-friendliness" is often not a quality I'm judging for when buying red wines.

                                    1. re: goldangl95

                                      but you MUST choose the right wine for what you're eating -- ask a Frenchman to drink a Cotes du Rhone with his plate of fresh raw oysters, and he's likely to whack you up side the head with the bottle.

                                      Nobody has ever said that French reds go with everything -- but there is *a* wine to go with every dish out there.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        That's not my point. Nor the OPs point. The point being that if you really enjoy wine, you may love many many wines that do not go with what one eats on a day to day basis. And if that's the case, you by logical deduction, when deciding to purchase a wine will not care about its supposed european centric food friendliness. You by definition are evaluating the wine on how it stands alone.

                                        To stress a point, I've had marvelous food/wine pairings. Where I didn't like the wine on its own, but with the food it was magical. I love doing that at restaurants, but I would never purchase a wine I didn't like on its own, for all the reasons I've cited above.

                                          1. re: goldangl95

                                            ...........AND that is exactly what the OP's issue is. The term "food friendly" has changed. It is more typical (now) to choose a wine that doesn't clash with your dinner- but also -that doesn't necessarily enhance it- in a traditional way.

                                            >>>>>"I begin to understand the criticism of California fruit as not so food friendly, as they seem to stand apart from food">>>>>

                                            Exactly! What is wrong with that? Sometimes it is not about a "classical" pairing because the food is not "classical". I think ...if you stretch... you can certainly find a wine that enhances your "alternative" meal, but chances will be that it is not a classical French wine. So, by the new definition of "food friendly"...French is not the "be all to end all" for wine/food pairings.

                                            1. re: sedimental

                                              The OP has no issue. I am just finding that all the wine info about wine pairings seem to conflict with 'my' own reactions. In my best wine and food situations, the wine and food all blend and the taste off one thing becomes and affects the taste of all things. Since I have yet to develop the language of tasting, this is to me the best of the wine/food experience, and yet I can not describe it. The Chateauneuf was a wonderful glass after a Sauternes, and foie starter. An earthy red with a simple steak was all. And try as I may I could not describe, I could only enjoy. Kinda like the second glass of Champagne. And since I seem to be eating a lot of Bistro food lately, French wines seem to be cheaper by he glass at most the places in the Bay area that I have been to lately and the wine lists have gotten smaller. But as many say, this type of wine and food was married early on. We have food flavours that change pretty often in comparison and a perfect mesh is harder to come by.

                                              1. re: budnball

                                                Sorry budnball, I didn't mean issue- as in "problem", I meant issue -as in "point of discussion".
                                                I think it is an interesting discussion, especially as food trends and preferences change.
                                                What you are trying to describe- the "meshing" in a good, traditional pairing, is much more difficult to do with many meals that (many of us) might eat on a daily basis. I can still have a wonderful, exciting pairing- but it is not the same as a traditional one. I think these new pairings and experiences will not be thought of as inferior ones. I would bet that comments like "not as food friendly" will cease or change in the near future.

                                                I also think there will be new "classic" pairings as once "exotic" food is now commonplace and people want to drink wine with their dinner. I am interested to see what happens with the recent surge in wine popularity in Asian countries. I recently sold at auction in Hong Kong. Those folks are not drinking all this wine with steak and potato. I hope something exciting comes from this new passion there!

                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                  Seconded. It's an exciting time for wine, I think the resurgence in popularity of Germanic whites with certain crowds, the popularity of wines in cultures that traditionally don't drink wine, and a new generation that is growing up with a lot of knowledge and variety at their fingertips due to the internet might contribute to a paradigm shift that will keep wine relevant in an increasingly globalized world.

                                                2. re: budnball


                                                  >>> I am just finding that all the wine info about wine pairings seem to conflict with 'my' own reactions. <<<

                                                  I guess I simply fail to understand, because my immediate reaction is "So what?" For as long as I can remember -- both in general, and with specific regard to your posts -- the "rule" (if there is such a thing) is to "drink what you like, with whatever you want to drink it with." In other words, the most important part of the above quote is that you are developing your own palate, your own preferences, your own opinions.

                                                  And to that, I say "Congratulations."

                                                  >>> And try as I may I could not describe, I could only enjoy. <<<

                                                  And, again, I must be missing something, because isn't the enjoyment the whole idea? Who cares about being able to describe it? That only matters if you are trying to convey your opinion of the wine to someone else -- above and beyond "I liked it."

                                              2. re: goldangl95

                                                Oh, I do find that there are "sippers," and enjoy them greatly. Some do not need food to excel. There is nothing wrong with one enjoying those.

                                                However, as Sunshine mentions, there are almost always wines, to go with <almost>any cuisines. Those are the ones, that are often NOT "sippers," and come into their own, WITH food. Nothing wrong with that.



                                              3. re: sunshine842


                                                >>> but you MUST choose the right wine for what you're eating -- ask a Frenchman to drink a Cotes du Rhone with his plate of fresh raw oysters, and he's likely to whack you up side the head with the bottle. <<<

                                                All hyperbole aside, that Frenchman (and myself, for that matter), is much more likely to say, "Non, merci" and pass on the wine that's offered.

                                                >>> . . . but there is *a* wine to go with every dish out there. <<<

                                                NO, this isn't. There is NO ONE WINE that will go with that dish. There are many, indeed dozens, of wines that will go with every dish. And no one has to agree with your choice as long as YOU like it. Ergo, if you happen to enjoy a Côtes-du-Rhône rouge with your raw oysters, I might scratch my head over it, but as long as it works for you, that's what counts . . .


                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                  I totally agree...I was trying to adhere to the KISS principle...and your answer is far more to the point.

                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                    Yeah we've been down this road before. And where I would not say that anyone is "wrong" for pairing a Côtes-du-Rhône rouge with raw oysters, I might be led to believe that the idea of pairing might be escaping them and that they are literally just eating and then just drinking what they like; with the food and beverage having zero relationship during the meal. Which isn't a crime or "wrong" but just isn't "pairing".

                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      Agreed. 100%. (Keep in mind I think the person who pairs raw oysters with a CdR rouge is out of his mind, but if he/she truly enjoys that combination, who am I to criticize?)

                                                  2. re: goldangl95

                                                    Again, exactly where did "old-school reds" come from?

                                                    There are many examples of wines, that go with certain cuisines, but there is usually a wine, that will work nicely.


                                                2. re: goldangl95

                                                  "Yes, but it isn't necessarily the old-school reds, that are often touted as food friendly... "

                                                  I spent about 30 mins., looking for such a comment in this thread, and could not find it. Can you point me to it?

                                                  I have actually not seen anything about "old-school reds," and food pairings, anywhere here. Maybe you are referring to another thread, or to some Web site?

                                                  If one knows their wine history, in the Old World, they will recognize that over about 600 years, or more, wines developed along with the cuisine of the area. Those wines pair well, to very well, with their region's foods.

                                                  Now, the New World can be a tad different, though things do seem to be changing.

                                                  To educate me, can you cite popular dishes from Tuscany, that do not go with the wines of Tuscany?

                                                  Now, you go on to cite ethnic cuisines, from so areas of the globe, that are not really known for their wines. Still, a Ch. Mussar with much Middle Eastern cuisine, can be sublime.

                                                  I am sure that you can conjure up cuisine from some spot on the globe, not known for wine, and claim that it goes with no wine - I have found that with some effort, most of those areas have cuisine, that CAN go with wines, but that is just me.

                                                  For a "diverse cuisine," I would start with Rosé sparklers and work from there.


                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    The original poster was noting that Chateauneuf Du Pape seemed to meld seamlessly with a steak frites, and noted that California fruit seemed not as food-friendly and was sympathetic to that criticism - but also wanted to know what others think. Essentially discussing a food pairing.

                                                    This is a common criticism of "new world" style wines - that they do not go with food as well as French wines. I was simply noting for a growing body of people this distinction no longer makes sense (e.g. people who eat food from weak or non-existent wine growing regions). They grew up with wine and food being two separate worlds, they often like and collect wine that does not go with the food one eats on a daily basis, such as Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Sushi etc.

                                                    And I feel that it's natural and good that as people's lifestyles change, and the cuisines they eat change, that what wines they prefer to have with food - or whether they have wine with food at all would change as well.

                                                    I never said that Italian wines wouldn't go with Italian foods, or that
                                                    French wines wouldn't go with French foods....actually my whole point is that many, many people in the world do not have European styled food at all on a daily basis - and as a result may not care about traditional food pairings and food friendliness.

                                                    For example, "sippers" actually go the best with the foods I have on a daily basis (roses, sparklers, sweeter german wines). I have bad luck though with getting it truly right as my cellar isn't vast and diverse enough to handle ramen one night, sardine curry another, Kimchi another, and a spicy green papaya salad with shrimp paste another....

                                                    Further, I actually like Bordeauxs, and Amarone, Reds from Sicily, Riojas etc. and am sad that my wine tastes and my food habits don't match up ....

                                                    This is just my opinion. And I'm sure there are people on this board that have the expertise and the cellar to handle any type of food that is thrown at them, but I would say that is not the norm....

                                                    1. re: goldangl95

                                                      With general food/wine pairings, I tend to start with Old World wines, BUT do not hesitate to sample New World wines, with a particular dish. I just find that in very "general" terms, Old World is a bit easier with foods - though not all foods.

                                                      We have the luxury of cooking for guests, and pairing wines to match each course. My wife will pick several recipes, and begin working with them. I start with some wines from my mind, to pair with the dishes, and often I start with Old World. As thing progress, and recipes evolve, I do not hesitate to look to other corners of the globe. It all just depends, and some of that might well be the evolution of the recipes. By the end of the week, we usually have things nailed down pretty well, and the wine list might well be all over the Earth. It just depends on the dish.

                                                      Do New World wines pair with food? IMHO, the answer is yes, but with a qualification - not ALL foods.

                                                      Do Old World wines pair with food? IMHO, maybe a bit more, so a yes, but with the same qualification - no ALL foods.

                                                      If your diet does not include foods that pair well with any wines, I feel sorry for you, as I have not had a dinner, and maybe only a few lunches, over the last 25 years, that did not include wines. Some paired very well, some just OK, and a few, not at all, but then I made mental notes on those, with the particular foods.

                                                      Since our palates cover most bases, we are very fortunate, and I can pull something great from my cellar.

                                                      Sorry about your situation,


                                                3. re: Iowaboy3

                                                  I have yet to find a wine that pairs with Buffalo wings.......and quite honestly, I really could care less if I ever do as a cold beer, iced tea, or Diet Coke work just fine IMO

                                                  1. re: TonyO

                                                    Now, as I have yet to find much to enjoy with "wings," I have not experimented much. I fail to see the reason for their popularity, but millions love them, so I must be in the minority. Heck, on CH and other boards, I see posts, where folk are going to New Orleans, San Francisco, London, Rome, Paris, etc., and ask for the best "Buffalo Wings," as they plan on eating them for most meals. Hm-m-m - not my thing.

                                                    Still, I would think of a fruit-driven Zinfandel, or domestic (US) Syrah, but not one with too much alcohol, as the "heat" would make those unbearable. Maybe an Amarone, with a hint of Recioto?

                                                    Also, a Rosé Champagne/sparkler might work well too.

                                                    Otherwise, I am at a loss, but that is probably as I do not eat many "wings."


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      I agree -- Champagne marries well with spicy and greasy....therefore it should be great with wings.

                                                      The original Hooter's in Clearwater used to offer a bottle of Dom Perignon on the menu - no idea if they still do.

                                              4. re: goldangl95

                                                I am very sorry, but I have not encountered such, and at almost any level.


                                                1. re: goldangl95

                                                  Uh, what?!?!?!?

                                                  Yes, England is a well-known wine-producing region . . . that's why English roasts and cheeses go so well with the local wines.

                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                    Okay, I'll argue that one...yes, England does produce wine. But according to,

                                                    "There are nearly 400 commercial vineyards in England and Wales covering approximately 2000 acres of land in total. Nearly all are in the southern half of England and Wales. Most English and Welsh vineyards are small (less than 5 acres), many very small (less than 1 acre). Only a small number exceed 25 acres and just a handful 50 acres. The largest (Denbies, Dorking, Surrey) has around 200 acres of vines under cultivation.

                                                    2000 acres doesn't really count as a major wine-producing region under anybody's standards -- the acreage dedicated to JUST Chateauneuf-de-Pape is 3200 just one small region in France is half again the size of ALL of the vineyards in England.

                                                    Not to take anything away from the English winemakers -- just that they are, by limits of size, a novelty rather than a statistically significant player in the world wine market.

                                                    I think the affinity for wine with English roasts and cheeses comes from the long history of having fought for vineyards somewhere else (most notably France and Spain)

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      Yes, I've had several Pinot Noirs from the U.K., and Muller-Thurgau . . . to date, none have been very exciting. They should improve somewhat, given global warming, but as they say on the news, "Time will tell . . . "

                                                      HOWEVER, me thinks you missed the point somewhat. My point, as goldangl95 understood, was that England is NOT a famous wine-producing region. Just because a region makes wine, doesn't mean a) it makes good wine, nor b) that it's famous for it. Japan and China both make wine from vinifera grapes; so, too, Korea, Uruguay and over a dozen other nations around the world. Doesn't mean they make good wine . . .

                                                      So, yes -- you missed my tongue, firmly planted in my cheek . . . .

                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                        I read it several times, and still wasn't sure....sorry!

                                                    2. re: zin1953

                                                      Sorry, the hard part of the internet, is I'll assume you are saying England is NOT a well-known wine producing region?

                                                      Somewhat a fair criticism, but not completely. France and England have been tied together (perhaps more than either would like to admit) in terms of cuisine etc. ever since the Romans, and then the Normans, came to England all those centuries ago. Further, there are strong Germanic influences as well in England cuisine over the centuries.

                                                      And granted, it may not do particularly well (but then again I haven't heard the greatest things about N. African wines) but this Roman/Norman heritage is why vineyards have been in England for a long, long time.

                                                      There has been a long history of noble and wealthy Englishmen being large consumers of certain regions of France for centuries. It's a historical and deep seated relationship.

                                                      This is all another way of saying, that British cuisine has developed for centuries alongside a strong wine (and even more so ale) culture.

                                                      1. re: goldangl95

                                                        See my above comment -- while England might have been producing wine for a long time, they have never, and still do not produce wine in enough quantity to make them any sort of a significant player.

                                                        England's long development of their food alongside wine is because they brought it from the conquered regions of France and Spain -- not because they grew that much themselves. They just don't have the climate for it.

                                                        By comparison -- Texas produces 3400 acres of vineyard -- by your argument, there should have been a history of drinking wine with barbecue (while it's done, it's not the *traditional* beverage of choice.)

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          Sunshine842, you wrote “England's long development of their food alongside wine is because they brought it from the conquered regions of France and Spain.” It’s not really significant for this discussion, but England didn’t conquer France, rather the Normans of France conquered England. A Norman king then married into the large wine-producing landholdings of France.

                                                          From Wikipedia: “Although domestically popular, French wine was seldom exported, as the area covered by vineyards and the volume of wine produced were low. In the 12th century however, the popularity of Bordeaux wines increased dramatically following the marriage of Henry Plantagenet and Aliénor d’Aquitaine.[5] The marriage made the province of Aquitaine English territory, and thenceforth the majority of Bordeaux was exported.[5] This accounts for the ubiquity of claret in England.”

                                                          1. re: BN1

                                                            The English influence in Bordeaux accounts for the differences in the secession laws there vs most other Regions of France, and especially Burgundy.

                                                            Same for Portugal. Were it not for England (and the influence of English companies), Port might well not exist today.

                                                            That said, I have sampled many (though obviously not all) English wines, and find most lacking in many respects. There are a few, however, that do show promise.

                                                            If one wishes to sample a fairly broad spectrum of English wines, then I recommend Vinopolis, across the Thames from the Tower of London, right over Tower Bridge. Again, not all, but a broad sampling.



                                                            1. re: BN1

                                                              I was using "England" as the name of the landmass that lies to the north of France across the English Channel.

                                                              The names and bloodlines of the inhabitants were extraneous to my point, and still are.

                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                While the "landmass that lies north of the English Channel" does indeed not produce a terribly large amount of wines of note:

                                                                Consider that during the development of Bordeaux as a solid wine region it was the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitane to the Duke of Normandy (Soon to be King Henry II) that brought Much of that area of France into the folds of England. The entire Sud-Ouest can be indirectly put in here as well, since Bordeaux completely controlled, and outlawed the sale of their wines until all the Bordeaux had been sold.

                                                                So to say that England doesn't (currently) make wines of note may be accurate, but all it takes is an eligible bachelor, or a few (ahem 100) years of war to change that.

                                                                Random Fun Fact: The founders of Haut Brion are Irish, and keep a bottle of Jameson in their billiards room.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  Eh. I think it's important to note that England never conquered areas of France or Spain. As Roman/French/Spanish/Germanic people conquered or married into the England landmass, they brought wine with them.

                                                                  1. re: goldangl95

                                                                    conquered perhaps no, but to say there wasn't English influence would be fallacy.

                                                                    1. re: plaidbowtie

                                                                      there's a whole country full of castles in France that still bear the battle scars of English miilitary invasions...and they DID hold various parts of the country -- regardless of who bore whom from what family, the reality is that the English flag flew over a pretty significant portion of France, and they brought a LOT of wine back to that island up there in the North Sea.

                                                                      Hundred Years' War, anyone?

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Fair enough. The history major in me wants to continue this fun debate on the "conquering" point and the hundred years war, but I realize that is getting too far off topic. At least, I think it's safe to say despite all the varying and disputed historical reasons, English cuisine has developed alongside wine for centuries.

                                                                        1. re: goldangl95

                                                                          Some of us might argue that English cuisine has developed alongside of maybe a decade. ; >P

                                                                        2. re: sunshine842


                                                                          <<regardless of who bore whom from what family,>>

                                                                          This is reaching Biblical proportions, with references to who begat whom, and when? [Grin]


                                                                      2. re: goldangl95

                                                                        Instead, the married into those areas!

                                                                        Similar, but different.


                                                                      3. re: sunshine842

                                                                        I do agree, and my tastings have encompassed the British Isles, not just England. A few sparklers were OK, but not much more than that.