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Jan 26, 2013 09:58 AM

multi-course pairing help needed!

Hi all,

We're doing a multi-course dinner party for 6 based on Heston Blumenthal's 'Home' book, with some courses from elsewhere. We really could use help with wine pairing and the ordering of dishes!

Here is the menu:

- gin and tonic granita

- Lamb Jelly with Cucumber Salad (amuse)

- Szechuan broth with duck dumplings

- Mushroom Jelly with Mushroom Cream

- Garden Salad with Sauce Gribiche (this has 'edible soil' with black olives - hard to match? Also thinking this could go before the mushroom jelly)

- Licquorice poached salmon

- Pigeon breast with port wine sour cherry reduction on celeriac puree

- Mint granita with apple juice

- dessert 1 - not sure - could be basil pannacotta with something else on the side.

- Palet d'or with chocolate, passion fruit ice cream and a surprising fun gelee (don't know what the surprise is - my friend is doing this one!)

- petit fours

Really hope you can help!

With many thanks,
Two keen London cooks x

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  1. The shadow can always help:

    Szechuan broth with duck dumplings: no question, Riesling (kabinett) or gewürztraminer

    Liquorice poached salmon: my first choice is leaning towards sauvignon blanc… but I think kabinett, (could be half-dry) Riesling also given the liquorice) or Chardonnay also likely to be nice here.

    Pigeon breast, cherry reduction on celeriac: kind of a mix of flavors there. I’d still prefer a pinot noir but keep the Riesling on the table as it matches the celeriac well and works with pigeon.

    SO: the 3 wines that cover your pre-dessert courses best, IMO, are riesling, sauvignon blanc, and pinot noir. I'd have all 3 in front of the the diners at all times and they can sip and match to their own palate preferences as they go along.

    Basil pannacotta: I’m liking a sweeter chardonnay-based champagne here, around demi-sec or doux.

    Chocolate palet w/ Passion fruit ice cream: What’s predominant on this? If the chocolate then I’d favor a medium to light dessert muscat; if the passion fruit i.c. then LH Semillon. If it’s about even then I’m leaning to the muscat.

    Please report back.

    28 Replies
    1. re: TombstoneShadow

      Thanks for your thoughts Shadow!

      Because this is going to be so opulent (and our guests are covering the wine, we provide the food), we had thought of a glass for most courses, so up to 6 different wines.

      I like your idea on the broth - I had been leaning towards a Gewurtztraminer on that so that could well be where I go with it.

      For the salad, I don't know if this is nuts, but I had been thinking of a rose - the main elements of the dish are black olives and a creamy gribiche with cornichons and capers in it. I find this hard to think up a match for. I could really use help on this course.

      For the mushroom jelly and cream, I was looking at an old chenin blanc - I found a nice Savennieres from 1998 - any thoughts on that?

      Interesting about the salmon choice of wine. I had been thinking of gong to red for this course, but it would have to be a light one... not sure which direction to go in.

      Pigeon - had been thinking pinot noir or beefing it up a bit to go with a cab/syrah blend.

      Love your idea on the demi sec for the pannacotta - love it! Originally I had been thinking riesling ice wine because I already have a bottle here. Do you think I could pull that off?

      Chocolate palet - no idea what is dominant - I am seeing my friend who is doing that course and will ask her tonight. I like both ideas though.

      Thanks again!

      1. re: visioncat

        Your thinking mirrors my own.

        - gin and tonic granita -- Champagne Blanc de blancs

        - Lamb Jelly with Cucumber Salad (amuse)- Champagne with some age/Pinot Noir in blend

        - Szechuan broth with duck dumplings -- Rose Champagne. Or Riesling Spatlese.

        - Mushroom Jelly with Mushroom Cream -- Rose Champagne or white Burgundy with sur lie aging

        - Garden Salad with Sauce Gribiche (this has 'edible soil' with black olives - hard to match? Also thinking this could go before the mushroom jelly) -- Yes, Rose or Rose Bubbly.

        - Licquorice poached salmon -- Savennieres was my first choice. With poached salmon and crab, it's beautiful.

        - Pigeon breast with port wine sour cherry reduction on celeriac puree -- Oregon Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais Cru.

        - Mint granita with apple juice

        - dessert 1 - not sure - could be basil pannacotta with something else on the side. Sauternes, Beaumes-de-Venise, Muscat de St. Jean de Minervois, Quarts de Chaumes. Yes, the Riesling Ice wine would work also.

        - Palet d'or with chocolate, passion fruit ice cream and a surprising fun gelee (don't know what the surprise is - my friend is doing this one!) I've had this. Brachetto d'Acqui to match with both, or LBV Port.

        - petit fours - Coffee or Tea. Too sweet for wine.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          I'm quite in agreement with Maria Lorraine on these, but this one has me stopped:
          <- Licquorice poached salmon -- Savennieres was my first choice. With poached salmon and crab, it's beautiful.> I love Savvenieres with poached salmon, but with licorice? Although I enjoy fennel and anise, licorice is a heavier flavor than either or those, and doesn't sound good with the salmon to me. So I can't imagine what would go well with that.....

          1. re: ChefJune

            IMO that's what points towards SB and chenin in the first place... both are compatible w/ this "licorice, anise, fennel" family of flavors.... not to mention salmon. And for the same reason half-dry or kabinett riesling is interesting too.

            1. re: ChefJune

              Chef June, my guess is that the salmon has just the barest hint of licorice, much like fennel would add. And while I don't recommend Chenin Blanc in general for this dish, I do recommend Savennières. The place/terroir of Savennières on the Loire makes its Chenin Blanc pair far better with fish and shellfish than other Chenin Blanc, IMO. My favorite Savennières is the Baumard, reviewed here:

              ....but here are other recommendations. BTW, I think the Joly is too much for the poached salmon.

          2. re: visioncat

            Vision it looks like you're really dialing in a great meal.

            As for the salad, rose sounds as good as anything. Sauvignon blanc could also work quite well I think.

            For the mushroom jelly I'm liking the white burgundy suggestion more than the chenin for this. Again I think SB could work really well with the mushroom too.

            Salmon... I'm fine on pairing the chenin with this, SB also matches both the salmon and licorice notes very well. If you were serving me I'd love to have a glass of each and have a chance to compare and contrast "the two great Loire white varietals" with this dish. Those little comparison opportunities really broaden any "food and wine pairing" event. As for a red I can't think of one I would prefer as much as these whites here, and I can think of alot that wouldn't work at all.

            Pigeon: I think cab or syrah are too rich for this dish. Pinot hits it perfectly, IMO.

            I love riesling ice wine, although it's not my first choice for pannacotta I think it would work. If you want to "open that bottle" of dessert riesling then you might consider changing a dessert item to a fruit-based dish which pairs insanely well with the riesling. OR for your "something else on the side" of the basil pannacotta, add your favorite fruit tart w/ hint of lemon to tighten the riesling pairing and have your guests oohing and ahhing.

            As I look over your menu to this point I'm still struck by how several varietals might pair very well with multiple dishes. If you have room at the table, we wine lovers really like having more than one wine to sample with each dish, assuming they are all appropriate. The comparison and contrast makes for very interesting conversation and learning experience.

            LMK in advance the date & place so I can book a flight :)

            1. re: TombstoneShadow

              ahhh, this is getting really exciting and interesting!

              And, the final dessert has undergone a transformation so it's all up for grabs again... (see end of this epic post)

              I think we may pass on alcohol for the aperitif and amuse otherwise we'll be under the table before dessert, but they both sound like good matches!
              Also, it's fascinating that the proposed match for the mushroom cream finds its way to the salmon as the perfect match. I'm intrigued by that combination now that you mention it. It's true that the wine can carry between courses, so I think I have the right order of dishes.

              So duck, I know a Riesling would be great, but I am always helpless before the Gewurztraminer grape and will use any excuse to get a bottle open...

              I'm delighted that my thoughts on a rose for the salad were confirmed - I don't know much about wine (or food for that matter!) so thought that one would get laughed off the board! My guts say still, not sparkling because the gribiche is rather creamy and... idk...

              For the mushroom, I think I'm going to try putting both chenin and a white burgundy on the table at the same time, especially as it leads into the salmon which is getting the chenin thumbs up from both of you.

              Salmon - when we went to the Fat Duck last autumn, we had this dish with a red. OH has irritatingly moved our tasting menu - when I locate it, I will post what Heston paired it with. At the time, I didn't think it was the best match, but I still think it's a dish that could hold a red. If I did go down that route, do you have any ideas?

              Pigeon - you're right - pinot or possibly a beaujolais cru would be more sensible. I was hoping to work a big red in there somewhere, but it's not the menu for it.

              Pannacotta - like the idea of a tart with hint of lemon for the icewine, but I am in love iwith the idea of a chardonnay blanc de blanc for it. The 'other thing' will be chamomile jelly and fresh strawberries so I think that will work well.

              That final dessert - we're winging it here, and please tell me if you think this will be disgusting, but we're now thinking
              Palet d'or with chocolate and avocado emulsion/foam/something. We have to do some heavy googling on how to make the avocado element work... what do you think? I'm thinking lime to marry it all up. Either way, my friend has decided not to do the ice cream and didn't like the passionfruit/choc combo when she tested it the other day. As things originally stood, I loved the idea of port, but I don''t think that would work now. If avocado is a no-go, any other ideas for an interesting aside for the chocolate?

              Anyway, sorry for rambling. I'm new to CH and it is SO exciting to be able to wibble away to people who actually know what they're doing!


              1. re: visioncat

                On the final dessert, that was my problem too, one wine ideally fitting both chocolate and passion fruit; there are wines that "work", but are they ultimate pairings?

                Here's my perspective on the "chocolate" dish, assuming a pairing with muscat. If it's paired with something else, then you have to work through the same logic to "bring the dish to the wine"... First: is it a dark chocolate or milk chocolate, or in-between? If dark then I'm favoring a heavier dessert muscat, if lighter then a lighter one. I'm not 100% on the match with avocado but don't right off sense a clash, muscat is pretty food-friendly. On the other hand, there are some certain flavor combinations for this wine including: chocolate > ginger; chocolate > coffee; and chocolate > orange. Example: orange-chocolate mocha cake or mousse ( or I'm not suggesting those exact recipes but that flavor combination is such a home run with this wine.

                Same thing if you're going with the BdA or LBV Port suggestion.... start with the wine and engineer your dessert ingredients to match it to the ultimate... then your diners sip the wine on top of it and go through the roof. So, while avocado foam, lime and chocolate might be extremely interesting and novel, if you're pairing the dish with a dessert wine and that's not a maximum match for the wine, you won't get maximum pairing impact, and might even get a clash.

                Re: pannacotta. My thinking for demi-sec or doux champagne here was besides the pannacotta, to connect to the basil. If you're going to introduce strawberries then that might swing this dish more to Sauternes? Though again the champagne is still very nice (maybe even better), but when these flavor elements shift you have to be open-minded to shifting the pairing. Maybe the chamomile becomes the deciding flavorant here: demi-sec or sauternes?

                This is fun. Pigeon. I love PNoir for this dish, not just given it's affinity for pigeon but also it goes really well with your cherry sauce. I'm liking this over beaujolais here, no question.

                Salmon: I think you're getting the chenin and SB reccos not just for the salmon but also due to the licorice poaching. Both wines meet those flavors so well. If I had to pick a red, it would definitely be Pinor Noir again for salmon but not confident it will marry as nicely with the licorice. You have to look at every major flavorant in the dish.

                Lastly, as for the duck pairing... I really prefer riesling or gewurztraminer here, not for the duck, but for the Szechuan!! If the duck were prepared differently I might favor an entirely different wine, in fact I likely would. But with the Szechuan there's not even a close 2nd to those two wines.

                Keep us posted as to how your menu evolves.

                1. re: visioncat

                  "Palet d'or with chocolate and avocado emulsion/foam/something. We have to do some heavy googling on how to make the avocado element work... what do you think? "

                  I've had several chocolate-avocado dishes out here in the SF Bay Area. You don't taste avocado per se; its flavor simply lends a roundness and emollience to the dish. No need to adjust. Pair as though to chocolate.

                  1. re: visioncat

                    VC, Just a reminder to read the links I attached, re:
                    Chocolate and strawberries

                    Dessert wines for the basil/chamomile panna cotta

                    1. re: visioncat

                      >>Salmon - when we went to the Fat Duck last autumn, we had this dish with a red. OH has irritatingly moved our tasting menu - when I locate it, I will post what Heston paired it with. At the time, I didn't think it was the best match, but I still think it's a dish that could hold a red. If I did go down that route, do you have any ideas?>>

                      The reason for the white wine with poached salmon is the preparation. When salmon is cooked via poaching, it a white wine dish. As the cooking prep changes from poaching to roasting to grilling, the increase in flavor intensity from those cooking methods changes the pairing from a white to a red, usually Pinot Noir with grilled salmon. Read more here:

                2. re: TombstoneShadow

                  btw, I feel like I'm missing a trick by ignoring all your SB suggestions - I don't have a proper understanding of it, I suspect.... I think I'm going to have to try a few more and figure out the range of the grape...

                  1. re: visioncat

                    I don't get SB with these dishes either, but I'm not a big fan of the grape unless it's from Bordeaux.

                    1. re: visioncat

                      SB is one of the more overlooked varietals, IMO. Because most people don't drink it alone (without food), it's often not on people's radar to select it when really attractive pairing opportunities come along. That's one thing that surprised me surveying your proposed menu, usually I don't find one, let alone several promising matches on a given menu.

                      1. re: TombstoneShadow

                        Perhaps it's a "regional thing," but I think this is truly a case of "YMMV." Certainly the 71,000+ tons of California Sauvignon Blanc that was crushed in 2011 dwarfs the 28,000 tons (rounded up) of Riesling that were crushed in the state, let alone the 11,000+ tons of Gewürztraminer. And the number of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs that are imported into the US continues to increase, let alone those from New Zealand . . .

                        1. re: zin1953

                          SB made in different parts of the world results in completely different wines. NZ SB is vastly different from FR SB. Even within France, Bordeaux SB is vastly different from Loire SB, so much so they are different wines. Whereas white Bordeaux SB would pair with many things, NZ SB is far more limited because of its distinctive flavor profile.

                          Same thing with Chardonnay. CA Chard is vastly different from FR Chard, and stylistically, ML Chard is vastly different from INOX Chard, so much so they are different wines. That's why I find recommending a varietal but not a region or a style is not useful. But I know you know all this.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Hi all,

                            Life got in the way of getting back to you all with responses in the past couple of days, sorry!

                            I'm heading to a few wine shops this weekend armed with the menu and a list of all recommendations and I'll see what I come home with.

                            In the mean time, couple of thoughts/ideas...

                            I'm in the UK and the extent of our US wines readily available are big label CA wines. Maria, you mentioned Oregon Pinot Noir... Just as SB and Chardonnay vary enormously by region as has been mentioned here in the post, I think Pinot does as well. How would you characterise Oregon Pinot? I'm going to have to look elsewhere in the world for a pinot so some hints would be great!

                            So far, I'm expecting to come home with...

                            Gewurtztraminer (duck)
                            Sparkling rose or Gruner Veltliner - new idea (salad)
                            White Burgundy sur lie (mushroom jelly)
                            Savennieres (salmon) - yes, I'm going to go with it! Thanks for the links on those
                            pinot noir (pigeon)
                            BDB demi-sec/doux (Panna cotta - I'll lose the strawberries to keep the bubbly!)
                            muscat - (Palet D'Or, avocado) - I hear what you're saying about best matches, shadow, but we'll take a chance. Not going for BDA as have possibly two sparklings already. If this isn't the best match, at least people may be too far gone to notice (laughs)

                            I'll let you know exactly what I got when the shopping is complete!

                            thanks again everyone!

                            1. re: visioncat

                              yummy, what time should I arrive?

                              Be sure to pay close attention to vintages on your wine buying trip. You may need to have some options on your varietals if you can't find good years on your first choices. For example if you can't find a great Gewurz year but there's an awesome riesling vintage, I'd absolutely go for the riesling... if you want to try a Cali PN but there's no good years available, I'd absolutely go for a better vintage from a different region, etc. etc.

                              no need to lose the strawberries really :)

                              1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                reckon you can make it to London for 6pm on the 16th? ;-)

                                1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                  gah - I am having so much trouble finding a doux/demi-sec BdB. I can really see the point of not having pinot etc in there, but I may have no choice. Or rethink :-(

                                  1. re: visioncat

                                    vision: maybe I'm missing something...

                                    You might need a replacement for the BdB, yes?

                                    And what's going on with the PN ?

                                    1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                      Shadow, I was just wingeing about the lack of demi sec and doux BDB in the UK is all... and the PN, Maria had suggested a Oregon PN, which we don't get easily over here. I figured NZ was a good climate/quality match.

                                      But soooo... the more people you talk to, the more confusing (and fun) it gets! I happened upon a French sommelier moonlighting in a local wineshop and she had some very different ideas for some of the courses...

                                      duck broth - she suggested a spaetlase, but I'm sticking with kabinett or gewurtztraminer.

                                      salad - Suggested Clos Belane Grenache - a still rose. She made the point that bubbles would 'give you back the olives and not in a good way'. So I'll go back to my gut instinct and go still. Alternatively - a SB - Macrocarpa 2011 (which I know will please Shadow!)

                                      mushroom jelly and cream - she suggested a pinot gris from alsace or possibly an oaked chardonnay from Macon or St Veran. No idea on that...

                                      Salmon - she knows this dish and went straight for a red - either a cab franc from the loire or possibly Hungary so that it is nice and light, or possibly a pinot from alsace. If budget allows, I'm going to offer a choice between Savennieres and a light red.

                                      Pigeon - of course pinot noir - NZ - Ribbonwood or Kuru Kuru.

                                      Basil Panna Cotta - she came up with the lovely idea of using dots of elderflower syrup instead of strawberries. She thought I could get away with a Besserat Belafon - a cremant style rather than a demi sec, but idk. I found an English BDB demi sec - Nyetimber, so idk, will google...

                                      Now the chocolate avocado lime deal... lots of ideas...
                                      A red dessert wine from Maury
                                      A young port - eg churchills crusted port 2004
                                      pedro ximinez cream sherry!


                                      1. re: visioncat

                                        Duck broth: I have NO problem with spatlese there, given the szechuan.... now we're back to vintages. If you can locate one kabinett, one spatlese, and one gewurztraminer, I'd buy the best vintage of the bunch. B/c spatlese is pretty dramatic wine, that might indicate pushing this dish farther into the dinner, you have it right up front as it is now.

                                        Poached salmon... I just don't see cabernet sauvignon with this.... here's IMO the best approach to serve both white and red with this: serve the PN that you're bringing out for the Pigeon. If any red is going to meet that salmon, that's probably it. Bring it out along with a white for the salmon and leave it on the table during the pigeon. Keep in mind I'm a glutton for multiple wine glasses, I know sometimes that isn't the most elegant presentation but if your guests love sampling different pairings it might be right up their alley.

                                        Chocolate: of those 3 ideas (PX sherry, port, maury), I'd much prefer the Maury. I think the sherry pairs better with the creamy panna cotta than it does w/ the chocolate. Still prefer muscat to all of them for chocolate.

                                        You've really put alot of study into this Vis, remember to focus on the best vintages when buying your actual bottles.

                                    2. re: visioncat

                                      I cannot recall seeing ANY bottling of a Blanc de Blancs Champagne that was labeled anything other than Brut. It would sort of be a waste of grapes . . .

                                  2. re: visioncat

                                    <I think Pinot does as well. How would you characterise Oregon Pinot? I'm going to have to look elsewhere in the world for a pinot so some hints would be great!>

                                    Oregon Pinot comes the closest in US to resembling Bourgogne Rouge. Not heavy on the fruit (as are most Cali Pinots) and a little funky.

                                    1. re: visioncat

                                      Yes, as mentioned, I'd do Spatlese with the Duck Szechuan.

                                      A red with the salmon would be a pairing mistake, IMO, and I've explained why. I have a lot of experience with this. You could do a Rosé, but nothing more red than that, or the wine will dominate the poached fish. Were the fish grilled, a Pinot Noir would work, or something more red than Rosé. Otherwise, no.

                                      The chocolate palet with the avocado emulsion -- pair as if to chocolate. Yes, a Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry would work, but my preference would be a Malmsey Madeira (I like Henriques & Henriques and Cossart-Gordon) or 20-year-tawny (must be 20 years to have the flavors that characterize tawny). If you're serving other sparkling wines, then I'd pass on the Bracquetto d'Acqui, but it is a real winner with a chocolate and berry dessert.

                                      I'd stick with a white dessert wine with the panna cotta. You have my recs on this.

                                      Good luck.

                          2. Cucumbers, licorice . . .

                            I'm glad you ddin't invite me.

                            Oh, it's in London.

                            Never mind then.

                            You know, if you cross the Channel, you can get a good meal. <g>

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: collioure

                              that's not very nice!

                              for those that have helped, I finally bought all the wines yesterday and I'll post what I got a bit later.

                              VC xx

                              1. re: visioncat

                                The devil made me do it!

                                (And I didn't even post what I really was thinking.)

                            2. Hello everyone!

                              We bought our wine, cooked our food, we sat and ate it all tonight and I wanted to share the final menu and wine matches along with impressions of the matches.

                              It was a real blast, cooking with my best friend for two days, then eating it all with husband, friend and two other really good friends... Our guests were not foodies or au fait with wine, no experts at the table - just friends and excited amateur cooks.So we lack the experience and vocabulary to describe our matches, but here's what we ate and drank along with feedback. Thank you SO much all of you who gave our menu a lot of thought and feedback. It is very much appreciated and I thank you for what has become my initiation into the world of food and wine matching. It has been a revelation and I look forward to learning more!

                              Here is the menu with notes...

                              Gin and Tonic
                              'Marcus Wareing'

                              This was a G&T granita served in small shot glasses. Went down very well. I was surprised at how good it tasted given the amount of sugar added to the gin, tonic and lemon mix before freezing.

                              Lamb Jelly with cucumber salad
                              Heston Blumenthal

                              The amuse was doomed from the start - my pressure cooker exploded while cooking the stock, the ice filtering let through a load of gelatine... when plated it looked wonderful, but a delay in serving liquified it and caused the salad to sink into the former jelly. I stuck it in the freezer for 10 mins and rebranded it as lamb gezpacho and it went down a treat.

                              Sichuan Broth with duck dumplings
                              Heston Blumenthal, SDH

                              Despite finding some great riesling kabinetts and gewurz to go with this course, we didn't do a pairing for budgetary reasons and for hepatic health... the broth was crystal clear and aromatic, the dumplings were perfect... worked well.

                              Garden Salad with Sauce Gribiche
                              Heston Blumenthal, DS
                              Chateau d’Aqueria, Tavel

                              We paired this dish with a Grenache Tavel AOC rose. It had enough weight, structure and acidity to cope with the olives, cornichons and capers along with a variety of salad vegetables. Visually this dish was stunning with 'edible soil'.Big wows from the table here for the food and the wine definitely held its own.

                              Mushroom Jelly with Mushroom Cream
                              Heston Blumenthal
                              En Barberon 2010, Côtes du Jura

                              OMG OMG OMG... perfect match. The jelly had three layers - madeira/olorosa sherry cream, fortified mushroom jelly, mushroom cream puree. So rich, so creamy, so earthy, so sweet. The Jura Chardonnay had enough oak and butter to really meet the mushrooms. It was a perfect blend of earthy and creamy. The wine inspired the entire table to taste each layer against the wine and it scored a perfect 10.

                              Liquorice Poached Salmon
                              Heston Blumenthal
                              Côte du Py 2010, Morgon

                              SO... this was the course that had the most variance in opinion wrt to wine... the unanimous opinion was that we needed a white but I stuck to my guns and went with red. And you know, it actually worked. Two of our guests are white wine drinkers, who avoid reds but they drained their glasses and said that they loved the combination. I tried several OW pinot noirs for this but settled on a gamay which really made the liquorice pop as it turned out. Okay, it was not the perfect match for the vanilla mayo but otherwise it hung together very well. That was never going to be an easy course to pair imo but it went down well.

                              Pigeon Breast with Port Wine and Sour Cherry Reduction
                              Barbera d’Asti 2006, Borschetto Vecchio

                              This was a punt for me because I was very set on a NZ pinot but the guys in the wine shop where I did all my buying recommended this. I know nothing of Italian wines but it caught the pigeon well. However,we definitely could have used something with a bit more fruit and weight. (Sorry, I don't have wine vocab). It was an okay match but wasn't a wow.

                              Mint Granita with Apple Juice
                              Heston Blumenthal, DS

                              No match here, but I have to recommend this for anyone looking for a good palate cleanser.

                              Basil Panna Cotta with Chamomile and Elderflower Jelly and Fresh Strawberries
                              Heston Blumenthal
                              Champagne Varnier Fanniere, NV Demi Sec Grand Cru

                              So, I am sitting here, it's nearly 1am and the party is over. As I write to you, I am dipping my finger in a bit of leftover panna cotta and swigging on left over fizz. Perfection. Life is good. The demi sec BDB has a toasty herbaceousness that was simply made for sweet basil. My mouth can't tell where the food ends and the wine begins... Alongside the Jura for the mushrooms, this is a perfect match. I simply do not have the words for how well or why this works perfectly but it does.

                              Palet d’or with chocolate, avocado and lime emulsion
                              Gordon Ramsay & Marcello Tully
                              El Maestro Sierra, Pedro Ximinez

                              Meh. The cake was incredible, the avocado played off it wonderfully. The sherry? For me, it didn't work at all. We had one vote in favor of the match out of the whole table, the rest of us took a sip and moved on.

                              Petit Fours

                              no match here, but for reference, we enjoyed salted caramels and rum jellies. The carrot lollies didn't work and had to be binned but by this point we were stuffed and very happy.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: visioncat

                                "My mouth can't tell where the food ends and the wine begins"

                                Can I borrow that quote some time? That really summarizes how a great pairing should be. I often think of wine as a gravy or sauce of sorts that just elevates the underlying food. To the extent that they marry the way you describe, it just becomes an entirely new dish.

                                Your post should be required reading for those who recommend "any wine with any dish".

                                Thanks again for sharing, and all the trouble you went to, will look forward to hearing of the next one.