I’ve always loved songs where the narrative of the lyric is the reverse of the tune that carries it – I have far too many favourites to name check here (but clearly there’s a nod here to the Morrissey/ Marr song writing partnership of the 1980s) but there are times when things that shouldn’t work together just do.
So, here I am again, another birthday past and oddly this blog stems from the drive to work on my birthday where the iPhone threw out at random a gem of a song from my past (Sugar, “If I can’t change your mind” - possibly the perfect combination of down turned lyrics and a guitar part that is so enlivening that you can’t help but find your spirits lifted).
A takeaway curry appears to have become the de-facto birthday meal (friends & family, with no need to cook on a school night, and the baby sitters come to you) and friends have now (quite correctly) started to look forward to some Yapp wines matched to their meal. I played it fairly safely and had a chilled bottle of Alsace: Gewürztraminer 2007 to go with the various fair we picked up from the “Sultan” in Melksham. My Dad stuck to beer for the duration but the wine with its lychee aromas, complex palate with subtle spicy undertones worked well with the spicy dishes on the table.
But this led to a discussion about more unusual matches we’d hit on in the past. So, can you have red wine with fish? I think the answer is yes – if you pick a light red (from the Loire or a gamay) that you pair with a strong flavoured fish – in the past I have paired Gamay de l'Ardèche 2010 with a mackerel starter and (I think) got away with it – on taste as well as the small ‘shock value’ from my guests – red with fish?!
[Ed. – An erroneously ordered Chianti is precisely how, in ‘From Russia With Love’, James Bond discovers that Donald 'Red' Grant is a SPECTRE agent – no gentleman would have red wine with fish!]
So, as with many things in life, you don’t know until you try it – every now and then it’s good fun to shake it up a bit and just see what happens. Just think ahead and pick combinations that don’t compete too much with each other – look at the ‘weight’ of the food and wine match, then decide if you’ll try and complement or contrast the flavours of the dish. There’s no real right or wrong here – you may too stumble upon a pairing that in principal shouldn’t work but does – it’s your meal after all.
However, there is no denying that, as with musical classic matches (Strummer/ Jones), you’d have to go an awful long way and then some to beat some chilled Jurançon Moelleux: Domaine Bellegarde 2008 with a good chunk of Roquefort!