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Chablis and chips - a match made in heaven?

11th April 2011 Print
The food and wine experts

It’s a question that regularly stumps 28 milliion of us as we reached for the wine shelves. Is white really the only choice for chicken, and does beef mean you have to stick to red?

This month sees the launch of What Food What Wine? a competition judged by the world's leading wine experts to discover the definitive plonk to go with Britain's Top 10 dishes, including chicken tikka masala, bangers and mash and fish and chips.

And, with a judging panel that boasts the world's best sommelier Gerard Basset, and married Masters of Wine Susie Barrie and Peter Richards from BBC1's Saturday Kitchen, the results will be conclusive.

Not only that, WFWW promises a 'blind' tasting meaning local UK producers will go head to head with the world's finest vineyards. Judges will only know if the wine retails for more or less than £10.

Peter Richards, who with wife Susie is a regular wine expert on BBC1's Saturday Kitchen, said: "We just don't know what surprises are in store. Ultimately, the only thing that matters in this competition is how well the wine goes with the food. It's a completely level playing field for wines from all over the world - with everything to play for."

The judges' menu also includes British favourites roast lamb, mushroom risotto, lasagne, smoked salmon, apple crumble and custard, mature cheddar and rich chocolate mousse.

Food-and-wine expert Fiona Beckett is one of the judges, with food writer and broadcaster Jo Pratt joining the team as its director of food.

Food and wine lovers can take part in the debate by describing their wine and food pairing triumphs and dining disasters at

The competition, launched by the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), also hopes to encourage responsible drinking.

IWSC's, Marketing Manager David Kelly, said: "With so many supermarket offers, and more of us drinking wine at home, wine is no longer seen as an accompaniment to food. We're hoping consumers will be encouraged to try new wines with food."

Judging will take place at the end of June.

Seven of the commonest food and wine clangers:

1. 'I won't drink Chardonnay - but I love Chablis'. (Chablis is made from the Chardonnay grape variety.)

2. 'I'd like an ice bucket for my red wine, please.' (Chilling reds slightly is often a good thing - they should be served around 15-18 degrees Centigrade, while most rooms and restaurants are 20-22 degrees C.)

3. 'Red with fish and white with meat.' (It all depends on the wine and dominant flavours in a dish - full-flavoured fish dishes can go best with light reds while rich whites can work wonders with subtle meat recipes.)

4. 'Strong cheese requires red wine' (Reds are often overwhelmed by the acidity and saltiness in cheese; whites, sherry or Sauternes can make a better match.)

5. 'I've kept this wine for 10 years so it should be great now.' (Most wines don't improve with age, some even get worse. Exceptions include the best German Riesling, fine red Bordeaux and vintage port.)

6. 'Let's try a dry wine with this sweet dish.' (As a general rule, the wine should always be as sweet as, or sweeter than, the food.)

7. 'The legs on wine are a sign of quality.' (They are more an indicator of alcohol content - the effect is caused by the alcohol evaporating faster than water - if you cover the glass, it stops the effect.)

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The food and wine experts