26 November 2009 3:01 pm | Posted by siteadmin

-(continuation from blog  Food and Wine pairing  dated 10th November  2009)



 INTRODUCTION:—–this blog and the many more following will examine the pleasurable and often complex relationship between good food and wine, with the ultimate aim to assist our many discerning customers evolve the convivial bonding of good food and wine.




 CHALLENGES:—–Good beef dishes are the main stay of so many different countries and the dishes can range from simply grilled Entrecote Steak to a substantial Casserole such as Brasato al Barolo (Beef in Barolo wine). The wine challenges are not too difficult since most people opt for and enjoy red wines with beef and preferably full bodied wines. On saying that, whether lightly grilled  beef steak or a big big winter beef stew most styles red wines will suffice, with Cabernet Sauvignon being a favourite of many.


RECOMMENDATIONS:—–Simply grilled beef with light sauces but no mustard can make good friends with light bodied reds such as a fruit driven Fleurie or Brouilly from Beaujolias, simarilly from Italy a good quality Valpolicella will hit the right mark.  If we move to upmarket dishes like Beef en Crout  then wines of fine pedigree should come into play like an aged St. Emilion or a smooth full bodied  Margaux from the Medoc.


The big beefy dishes such as Boeuf Bourguignon  or a traditional British slow cooked Braised Beef do enjoy the company of big and weighty wines like a Shiraz from Clare Valley Australia, a Zinfandel from Chile, or an oaky Rioja Gran Reserva from Spain. Two other favourites of mine to match most beef dishes are from Italy, one being a Chianti Classico Reserva, the other a full bodied red from Montepulciano. Both these Italian wines would also make a superb match with a firm old favourite—Beef Stroganoff.


MAIN DIRECTORY:—–click on The Marriage of Food and Wine to access our quick search facility to locate hundreds of other food/wine/food pairing options, including hors-d’oeuvres, starters, soups, main courses and desserts. Also Great Friends – Cheese and Wine for cheese and wine pairing.




NEXT ARTICLE:—–Poultry dishes, including chicken, turkey, guinea fowl, goose and farmed duck.





Graham D



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Fine and Traditional Absinthes from Alexander Hadleigh

13 November 2009 11:55 am | Posted by siteadmin


Absinthe takes its name from Artemisia absinthium, the botanical name for the bitter wormwood , known in french as “Grande absinthe”. This ingredient of the liquor absinthe also contains the molecule thujone, which supposedly accounts for its alleged mind altering properties. Wormwood infusions had been known as a medicine as far back as Greek times however it was not until around 1792 that the alcohol elixir was supposedly created. Pierre Ordinaire, a French Doctor living in Switzerland, distilled the wormwood plant in alcohol with anise, hyssop, lemon balm and other local herbs. According to popular legend,Ordinaire actually obtained his recipe from the local Henriod sisters, who had been making an ” elixir d’absynthe” to treat illnesses for years. The tonic, quite powerful at around 72% alcohol, was locally heralded as a medical cure-all. The recipe was in turn passed on to a Major Dubied, whose son-in -law was Henri-Louis Pernod. What ever the truth behind its origins, absinthe stopped being a local curiosity and started on its route to becoming an international phenomenon in 1797 with the foundation of their new distillery in Couvet, Switzerland. In 1805, the famous Pernod Fils distillery expanded and opened in Pontarlier, France to avoid customs taxes between Switzerland and France. By 1905, there were hundreds of distilleries in all corners of France producing absinthe, with over 40 distilleries operating across the Swiss border in the French Jura region, 22 of which were located within the town of Pontarlier, itself producing 7,000,000 litres a year from 151 stills. The success of the highly regarded Pontarlier brands brought many imitators and profiteers soon introduced cheaper, adulterated and even poisonous imitations onto the market that were in turn partially responsible for the reputation that absinthe gained for causing delirium and madness in those who drank it.

Originally, absinthe gained its popularity from its use in North Africa during the French campaignes of the 1840’s as a disease preventative and water purifier. The French soldiers brought their taste for the herbal beverage back to the cafes of Paris. Here it became a fashionable drink of the bourgeoisie, so much so that the time between 5.00pm and 7.00pm became known as “l’heure verte” (the Green Hour), and absinthe soon became the most popular aperitif in France. From the mid 19th Century onwards absinthe became associated with bohemian Paris and featured frequently in the paintings of such artists as Manet, Van Gogh and Picasso. When they were not painting it, they were drinking it in large quantities, joined by contempory poets such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Verlaine – who practically made a career out of it. Absinthe production grew so much that it became cheaper than wine. Between 1876 and 1900 the annual consumption in France had rocketed from 1,000,000 litres to 21,000,000 litres. It is no exaggeration to compare the impact of banning absinthe to the effect that the banning of Scotch Whisky would have on Scotland.

So, if absinthe was so popular, why was it banned? there were a number of reasons. It got caught up in the temperance movement that was sweeping Europe at the beginning of the 20th Century and became the scapegoat for all alcohol; findings were published shwing that thujone was a neurtoxin in extremely large quantities (albiet more than was found in even 150 glasses of absinthe) which caused convulsions and death in laboratory animals. Pressure also came from the wine producers who saw its popularity as a threat to their sales, which had been badly hit by the spread of the phylloxera louse that destroyed most of France’s vineyards by 1890. Another nail was driven in the coffin with the lurid ‘Absinthe Murder’ which took place in Switzerland in 1905 when one monsieur Lanfray shot his entire family after drinking absinthe. The fact that he had also consumed several litres of wine and a considerable amount of brandy was overlooked by the prohibitionists and by 1910 absinthe was banned in Switzerland. The constant bad press came from across the Atlantic and an anti-absinthe novel titled “Wormwood, a drama of Paris” penned by Marie Corelli ( who would be considered the Belle Epoque Danielle Steele) caused a furor in the United States. Absinthe was mostly consumed in ‘cosmopolitan’ cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago and New York and the scandalous stories that spread across the American heartland prompted its banning nationwide in 1912. Finally , in 1915, absinthe was banned in France, but it took a military order to do it.

Contrary to popular belief, absinthe was never banned in the United Kingdom, Spain or Portugal.


Some of our collection of Absinthe for you to savoir

    Absinthe Brevans, Matter-Luginbuhl, Switzerland absinthe-brevans3

 absinthe-clandestine1 Absinthe Clandestine, Claude Alain Bugnon, Switzerland  


absinthe-coquetteAbsinthe La Coquette, Paul Devoille, France  

 spir13Absinthe La Fee Bohemian, Czech Republic


Absinthe Montmarte, Fischer, Austria 


 Absinthe NV, La Fee, France 










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Food and Wine Pairing—Pork

10 November 2009 4:52 pm | Posted by siteadmin

(continuation from blog “Food and Wine pairing” dated 13th August 2009)

INTRODUCTION:—–this blog and the many more following will examine the pleasurable and often complex relationship between good food and wine, with the ultimate aim to assist our many discerning customers evolve the convivial bonding of good food and wine.

FOOD BEING FEATURED:—–PORK DISHES, including  ROAST PORK, GRILLED PORK CHOPS, SUCKLING PIG, PORK MEDALLIONS and PORK FILLET.  ( Veal or rabbit dishes would also be a good alternative )

 CHALLENGES:—–simply cooked pork is not too difficult to find friends and partners. Similar to chicken you can match most of your personal preferences with the above dishes except sweet or medium sweet wine. Pork also goes well with sparkling wine, especially red made from Shiraz/Syrah or Malbec.

RECOMMENDATIONS:—–Pork has an endearment towards big rich white wines such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Cotes du Rhone Villages. The strength, richness, depth of flavour and aromas of these desirable wines  provide a classic match for most pork dishes. If you are a committed red wine fan then try a Californian Syrah with its spicy black cherry fruit, this distinctive grape variety is also a perfect match for pork, hot or cold. An alternative red would be an Australian Merlot from Wakefield with its subtle flavours and softness to match both the white meat of pork and also the rich crispy crackling of oven roast pork.

MAIN DIRECTORY:—–click on The Marriage of Food and Wine to access our quick search facility to locate hundreds of other food/wine/food pairing options, including hors-d’oeuvres, starters, soups, main courses and deserts. Also Great Friends-Cheese and Wine for cheese and wine pairing.


NEXT ARTICLE:—–Beef dishes, including roast beef, grilled sirloin steak, grilled T bone steak, grilled rump steak, grilled fillet steak, grilled rib eye steak, beef en crout and big beefy stews.



Graham D


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