A match made in heaven: Corkscrew wine pairings for Valentine’s
If you are cooking for your beau this Valentine’s then follow Matt Day’s recipe for success - as the sommelier for wine app Corkscrew reveals his top pairings.
They say the way to the heart is through the stomach. But don’t forget that the whole point of Valentine’s is to spend quality time tied to your other half, not the kitchen. Keep it simple, keep it fresh, keep it clean, keep it fun, keep it flowing, but most importantly keep it out of the kitchen.
Keep it simple: don’t plan an intricate tasting menu – there is nothing less attractive than a harried, sweating cook. Also single ingredients pair far better with wines than complex dishes with multiple components – a Michelin star dish with its lamb three ways, two sauces and five foams is virtually impossible to pair successfully. Port with stilton is perfection - though blue cheese is forbidden for Valentine’s (see below).
Keep it fresh: nobody wants to kiss someone with garlic or cheesy breath. And you won’t want to do anything other than sleep if you eat a big carb ladened meal. It is much more fun to have lots of small dishes with each paired to the perfect wine.
Keep it clean: in the kitchen that is. Wash up as you go along. There is no bigger buzzkill than a mountain of washing up before bed.
Keep it fun: Valentine’s should be dressed down.. Think along the lines of sharing, dipping and feeding and you won’t go far wrong.
Keep it flowing: alcohol is well known for its ability to make you relax and lose your inhibitions. However there is nothing worse than a dinner where your partner falls asleep in the soup. Sip, savour and enjoy, but don’t overdo it. The best tip is to drink one glass of water for each glass of wine. You will thank me in the morning! Supermarkets are offering a better selection of half bottles, which are great when you don’t need a whole bottle for each small plate. If you do buy a bottle don’t feel obliged to drain it. Put a cork in the whites/fizz and they will last for up to 5 days in the fridge – so no worries about wastage. Just don’t get wasted!
Iberico ham– Champagne/Sparkling Wine
Smoked salmon may be the most obvious choice, but I find the fat of the salmon makes the Champagne taste metallic. Also smoke salmon breath is rather hard to get rid of and can follow you throughout the night. There is something very decadent about sweet, marbled, mature ham served with toasty, aged sparkling wine.
Seafood – Chardonnay
Oysters are classic lurve food. Not only do they look naughty, but also they boost dopamine levels, which increases libido (in people that like oysters). However opening an oyster is a pretty difficult task which can easily lead to a visit to casualty. A nice prawn or lobster dipped into some fresh mayo is a safer alternative. Subtle and crisp with a slightly creamy edge Chablis (unoaked Chardonnay) is the perfect wine to go with oysters or other seafood dishes (will also work with the asparagus below). A white Burgundy (oaked Chardonnay) would also pair well.
White asparagus with black butter – Sauvignon Blanc
Apart from its distinctive (ahem!) shape asparagus is high in Vitamin B that aids histamine production, which is essential for healthy libido. Don’t forget though that it does make your wee a bit pongy! Green asparagus isn’t quite in season, but the premium white asparagus in jars and tins (look out for Spanish it is the best) just needs a quick microwave. Anyone can make black butter – basically you burn the butter! Heat unsalted butter over a low flame until it starts to turn golden and smell nutty – et voila! Grassy Sauvignon is great with asparagus. If you are feeling flush a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé is ideal or look to neighbouring Touraine for better value.
Steak – Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon
When it comes to primal instinct there is nothing like a big hunk of meat to get the juices flowing. Protein-rich red meat boosts levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which increases the heart rate – a major factor in female (not male) arousal. Contrary to popular opinion Malbec is a bit heavy for steak and will overpower the delicate flavours. A silky, oaky Rioja (tempranillo) or Bordeaux (cabernet) is a perfect partner to most steaks.
Fresh strawberries with melted white chocolate – Muscat
Chocolate contains a stimulating chemical known as phenylethylamine, that increases your sense of excitement and well-being. And there is something very sensuous about dipping a cold strawberry in a hot vat of white chocolate. Don’t waste your money on expensive champagne here unless it is half sweet (demi-sec)– as a dry champagne whether white or rose just doesn’t go with sweet food. A light, frothy, sweet Moscato d’Asti is a much better choice and costs 4 times less.