Although I spend a reasonable amount of time (how much is reasonable?) thinking about which wine to enjoy with a meal, quite often I'll find that even if it's not perfect it is still entirely serviceable and rather than wail hysterically while tipping the bottle down my throat, I can enjoy both food and wine while making a mental note to try something else next time.
But then, when you most want to find just the thing to do justice to the efforts of the chef, you go and make an absolute clanger. Of course it is also about doing justice to the effort that has gone into the production of the wine so showing it off in the most flattering company is desirous in absolute propotion to the amount of effort it is to procure a bottle and how lovingly you cherish it.
I haven't gone too far out of my way to scout out the perfect steak to show off my £5.49 Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon. Although they would be more laidback company than some, more intricate, menus.
Had the most wonderful meal a couple of nights ago courtesy of a former Masterchef contestant. We kicked off the evening with some Champagne Drappier Brut Carte d'Or NV. A very biscuity nose with a fresh, light and clean apple palate, a broad, creamy bottom layer and an enthusiatic but not overwhelming mousse and very decent length.
The first course was mushroom ravioli in a wild mushroom (girasol) broth in which the woodland flavours sang out in operatic fashion. We matched that with a Louis Latour, Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2002 from Provence. Very light crimson this was correct and tasty. Already quite evolved but still lots of fruit, just not the concentration I'd hoped for. Made a great pairing with the mushrooms though and the lightness and acidity in the wine lifted the earthy tones and richness of the ravioli.
The meal continued with roast duck cooked in red wine with cherry sauce. For the duck I had brought along a Feytit Clinet 2000 from Pomerol having enjoyed right bank Bordeaux with duck on many previous occasions. Here though the intensity and sweetness of the cherries and the reduction glaze reduced this otherwise rather lovely wine to thin, metallic, short nastiness. Really very sad!
We tried opening an Eldridge Blue Chip Shiraz 2003 from Clare Valley in South Australia, which alone was sweet, unctuous and jammy but this too couldn't take on the cherries.
Which came first - the cherry or the Feytit Clinet? They both lost that night. Tant pis...learn from mistakes. Next time before rummaging through the cellar, I'll ask for an exact breakdown of the recipes from my host - NO, not really! This is just for fun.