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#1

Asking what works with red Rhone is surely a bit like asking what works with any full bodied red wine?

But if you want to be more nuanced I think you need to distinguish between N and S Rhone. And old and young.

It might also, with regard to the North, be worth reading bits JLL’s book on the Northern Rhone, which asks the growers what food dishes they recommend for each appellation. It gives interesting views which perhaps reflects what people there eat traditionally as much as idealised matches.

But surely people in Stevenage know all this? TWS is renowned for its expertise.

Maybe it’s just me but I’d be really interested to read Marcel’s reflections on the pairing of Rhone wines and food, or the opinions of growers on matching the whites of the Northern and Southern Rhone, which is arguably more challenging - especially if one nuances for aged wines.

Or what about an interview with the owner of the Beaugraviere, which has perhaps the finest Rhone list in the world?

But asking for a recipe that works with a Rhone red… I mean the list is endless.

Personally, if game was being served, I think it would be a shame not to serve mature N Rhone.

But I’m just puzzled… The Society’s buyers are hugely knowledgeable and cultured… I’d love to know more of what they think.

However, the social media outputs don’t seem to reflect this great trove of knowledge. Marcel tastes hundreds of wines every year and eats in good restaurants in the Rhone… Why not ask him?

I think shepherd’s pie is good with southern Rhone. So is lamb casserole. So is pigeon. But who cares? I’m married to a daughter of a Rhone chef, go tasting in the Rhone regularly, like cooking, and could ramble on… But I’ll never possess Marcel’s knowledge, or that of the sommelier at the Beaugraviere.


A recipe perfect for Rhone?
#2

Social media has to appeal to the greater and wider audience of wine lovers as a whole. If you start to discuss what dish may go well with a crozes-Hermitage from behind the hill of Hermitage, you are going to alienate most likely the majority of intended audience. It’s too much detail.
Likewise, if you handed a “winelover” an empty map of the southern Rhône and asked them to fill in the AOCs they wouldn’t be able to either. It doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the wines from there but if you become too specific about dishes which match specific wines from specific regions it becomes overly complex and complicated .


#3

It doesn’t have to. That’s just the way you choose to do it.

All of your wine buyers could have their own Twitter account and post things about their specialities.


#4

I think you’ll find most of them do.


#5

I completely agree, but you can Google “wine matching rhone red” and get hundreds of answers.

My puzzlement is that TWS has knowledge, insight, understanding, etc that sets it apart. And it puzzles me that it doesn’t deploy that on social media. It seems a shame.

It sometimes feels to me that TWS wants to appeal to a broader audience, but that how it does that feels rather simplistic. And actually clashes a bit with some of its strengths - when it could reinforce them.

Consider the recipe for Felicity Cloake’s Pinot Noir-Perfect Lamb Koofteh With Dried Cherries, which was tweeted on 15 Jan.

It’s basically lightly spiced lamb meatballs in tomato sauce with dried cherries.

It looks delicious, and very interesting. I’m glad it was shared. I’m interested in food and have never had dried cherries like this.

But “pinot perfect”?

Admittedly, the article references new world pinot…

But tomato sauce is famously difficult for wine. The Society’s website highlights this, before saying: “Alternatively a super-fruity red (such as zinfandel, primitivo or grenache) can work really well with the sweet- sour elements at play in tomato-based recipes.”

For Burgundian pinot noir, I think many people would regard this dish as a truly terrible match.

I think it would be more accurate to say this is a difficult dish to wine match, if you want to have wine with it then new world pinot is among the good bets and perhaps the best, and might indeed work well and surprisingly so. But if you have a special bottle of fine pinot noir, and especially an older one, you’re probably better off saving it for plainer food. And definitely don’t have red Burgundy with it!

I think it was Pierre Mansour who told me that gewurztraminer was a surprisingly good and under-rated match for tomato sauces, but that’s an aside.

I mean I may be completely wrong but I’d just be surprised if the TWS tasting crew thought this dish pinot perfect (at least without major caveats). It’s as if alliteration trumped meaning.


#6

Is there a list? Can’t see anything on the WS site.

I did discover @pierremansour who averages a couple of tweets per year.


#7

I don’t think they are official WS accounts. Marcel has an entertaining feed.


#8

We don’t list them on the site because they’re their personal accounts, rather than specific to the business. They are, however - as @tom said - very entertaining.

As they’re public, I’ll gladly help you find them on Twitter: @timsykes2, @SarahKnowles, @owmarcel and (as you mentioned) @pierremansour. The other buyers don’t currently use Twitter.

I appreciate your feedback, and I’m going to be 100% transparent and say off the bat that I’m our social media manager as well as Community manager, but I do think it’s worth noting: we commissioned Felicity (a brilliant Guardian food writer) to come up with a recipe to match pinot noir. We discussed a specific style of pinot (as you say, there’s no one-size-fits-all) and sent her an example, which she used to create the recipe. This is listed and linked to in the introduction to the article - the headline is a simplification for the sake of length, but it’s made very clear in the intro which style of pinot noir it suits. As you’ve already explained so well, it’s impossible to make a recipe to suit all pinot, so we hope people who click through have that clarified straight away. :slight_smile:

On a more general note - we have a hugely diverse audience of wine lovers on social media, so we post a diverse range of content to match. I’m not remotely surprised there are posts on there that don’t appeal to some members - I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I was only appealing to certain types of wine lovers (whether that’s beginners, aficionados or otherwise). We try to ensure there’s something for everyone, and the stats back up that people respond really well to what we post. I hope this helps explain our reasonings, and we actually are working with the buyers more in the near future to bring more of their expertise to social, so keep your eyes peeled! :slight_smile:


#9

Interesting to read, but I think what you say goes to the very heart of what I was getting at.

I think The Wine Society is brilliant - nothing short of brilliant - at what it does. I also think it’s hugely trusted, principally because of three things: a) its expertise, b) its not-for-profit status (as a mutual), and c) its superb quality of service and logistics.

And I think the wine-buying expertise is absolutely central to that. Just look at the Rhone E.P. offer. People (including me) will buy whole cases of wines they’ve never tried on the basis of the buyer’s recommendation. I’m sure I’m not alone in carefully considering his judicious, weighed words. I’m assuming those notes are written by Marcel, or he at least approves them, and I know he has massive experience of buying Rhone. He must be one of the UK authorities on that subject, if not one of the most knowledgeable people in the world. All of this is wonderful.

To give another example, if you look at Toby Moorhall’s thoughts on white Burgundy ageing and premox, on another forum, they are as thoughtful as they are thought-provoking. Again, they come from someone with immense knowledge and experience. I also admire his willingness to give his opinions on a contentious subject. Separately, I know of a wine maker who was seriously p*ssed off when Toby didn’t buy one vintage of his wine, but wanted the next one - but whatever else, that was Toby doing his job in accordance with his principles.

And just look at this: Toby seemingly trained as a chef and has a passion for pinot noir, and a listed hobby is cooking. See: https://www.thewinesociety.com/buyer-profile-toby-morrhall

What I find slightly troubling with the marketing communications, as a member, is that I find myself having to try to distinguish between those where the words come from the Society’s experts using measured language, and those that look like they’re created first and foremost as marketing - as you might get from another large wine merchant or a supermarket.

Let me say right away: I think Felicity Cloake is a genius. The big challenge with food writing is that the market these days is saturated. She saw a brilliant opportunity for a format where she combined a recipe with an exploration of a dishes’s history and the different ways that different chefs cook it. In doing so, she combines reportage and interviewing with the publishing of a menu, she combines modern cooking innovation with an appreciation of history. And what’s so clever is that you go on a journey with her, learning. She is at once expert and curious amateur.

What she produces works so well, seems so effortless, that it’s easy to overlook what it is: journalistic genius. Creating new formats in a saturated market… creating innovation like that… and executing it so well. It’s brilliance at work. I’m full admiration.

But I return to my central point. Is Felicity Cloake a wine matching expert, and does she know much about wine? I mean, maybe she is and does, but not all food experts/writers do actually know lots about wine (and there’s nothing wrong with that - they write about food!). I just don’t know.

What I do see is that the recommended wine has this tasting note: “Juicy red berry-scented pinot, with bright forward fruit flavours, soft integrated tannins and a succulent black cherry finish.”

A bit of me wonders if she thought the dish had to match the description of the wine - it mentions cherries, and the recipe includes cherries. Obviously, I have no idea of the thought process, and I just wonder…

But I’d be amazed if any wine expert, if you asked them to recommend a dish to match pinot noir brilliantly, would recommend meatballs in tomato sauce - if by match, you mean help show the wine at its best.

I’m curious: did anyone at TWS try the cooked recipe with the wine to check it did indeed match? I’d expect so… but I’m just curious? Maybe they did, and maybe this really is a brilliant match, not just a better match for a wine-challenging dish than most other wines?

It just feels a bit as though this was cooked up by a marketing department and a freelance cookery writer, and didn’t draw upon, or reflect, the Society’s remarkable depth of knowledge, expertise and experience. But I hope this isn’t so.

I really think it’s worth reflecting on the value you have within the Society, and what makes it unique and special in the market - and how that is brought to life. I don’t think it’s easy to do that in a way that combines authenticity and near-academic levels of knowledge, and is accessible… but I do think it’s possible.

Hope useful and that my view can be considered alongside others members’.


#10

Thanks, @GuidoD, and I really will take this on board. :slight_smile: Just to clarify re: your followup about the Felicity recipe, because I’d hate for you to have the wrong impression: we have a hugely talented, passionate team who put a lot of thought into the content we produce for members (making sure there’s a split of types of content to cover all levels/needs, taking into consideration what members tell us they want to see), and Felicity is absolutely qualified to match food and wine, as were the members of the marketing team who were involved in commissioning the piece. You might not see it as a viable match, and that’s 100% fair enough, but while we can’t possibly please every palate every time, but what we do is always put genuine passion and knowledge for the subject at the forefront of everything we do to make sure all our advice is authentic.

We do often also draw on the buyers’ expertise - for instance, in the next couple of weeks on the social calendar, I’ll be sharing Marcel’s tips on Rhone restaurants to visit, in-depth buying guides for Rhone, Bordeaux and Burgundy (all written by the buyers), and Sebastian’s guide to what makes a good Bordeaux vintage - among much, much more content. We can’t rely on the buyers for all of our content though - they simply don’t have time! - and they’re also not always the right fit to provide the hugely varied types of content our members tell us they want/need.

This was also something I really wanted to clarify - all our wine tasting notes are provided by the buyers. Of course, they also work with the copy team’s areas of expertise to make them as clear and helpful as possible, but the buyers are always very much involved in this process. Again, that doesn’t mean you have to like all the tasting notes obviously, and I know we can’t please everyone every time, but I can definitely assure you of their authenticity. :smiley:

Anyway, I hope this helps! And now I’ll probably split this into a new discussion as we’ve gone just a tad off topic! :wink:


#11

Surely there’s a tie up between TWS and Le Creuset social media!!!


#12

Good thread.

Just on the buyers-on-social media bit.

I follow both @Freddy and @martin_brown on Instagram and enjoy both.

Freddy’s is great because he goes on interesting wine trips with great vineyard dogs. I basically want to be him.

Martin’s connection with his cat is moving.


#13

I apologise if I may seem difficult, but I feel slightly misrepresented here. I didn’t say that I didn’t see it as a viable match.

What I said was: “I think it would be more accurate to say this is a difficult dish to wine match, if you want to have wine with it then new world pinot is among the good bets and perhaps the best, and might indeed work well and surprisingly so.”

This is my hunch, and of course I may be wrong. But I’m not saying it couldn’t be a viable match.

Indeed, if TWS had called the wine a viable match for the food, as opposed to this food being a perfect match for the type of wine, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

What surprised me was “pinot perfect”, and saying the dish was “a perfect match for a fruity New World pinot noir.”

This was surprising because I’ve never before seen a tomato sauce based dish positioned as a perfect - perfect, not viable - match for pinot noir.

Tomato based sauces are usually positioned as a challenge for red wines.

As it happens, The Wine Society provides examples. Here’s one: on its matching tool, meatballs in tomato sauce is a dish you can search for and here are the results:

https://www.thewinesociety.com/searchProducts.aspx?idx=products&dFR[FoodIngredients][0]=Meatballs%20-%20Tomato%20sauce&hPP=15

The text in the result says “Italian wines are the natural choice here. As tomato-based sauces feature so widely in their cuisine it is no surprise that the Italians make wines that cope best with these dishes.”

I think the use of “cope” is telling.

But like I say, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe if you’ve got a nice bottle of fruity American pinot noir and you want to choose some food that will really complement it, and really show it at its best, you should actively choose spiced meatballs in tomato sauce with cherries.

I don’t know because I haven’t tried! But if you guys have, and it’s pinot perfect then more power to you: you’ve made a discovery in the world of wine at odds with conventional wisdom - which is a great pleasure in the world of wine where the more you learn, the more you realise you don’t know!

And sorry if I labour my points a little. Hope you have a lovely evening.


#14

For the avoidance of doubt I should also point out that I Googled, and Felicity Cloake has the Wine and Spirits Education Trust’s Advanced Certificate in Wines, and got with a Distinction. So hats off for that.


#15

I actually really like to hear what the social community here may have tried or want to try as a pairing recipe, in this case for Rhône, but for any other question or query wine and food matching.

Kudos especially to those who take the time to share the recipe / prep / cooking procedure / subtle recipe twists / and serving suggestions. This is often something missing from a “search engine” approach, and as I’m far from any restaurant grade head chef I really appreciate their endeavour to share.

I’m sure there are some fine recipes in this community to create a Wine Society cook book :plate_with_cutlery: :thinking:


#16

and isn’t that great…its one of the things I love about food and wine matching - so much to try! and no one is wrong…its what they like!!

and here we have the crux of this whole thread…“I think”…what one person thinks (in this case we mean ‘likes’) is on the whole different to the next person. as a worked example…

Q - What Rhone to put with beef daube ?
person 1 - Gigondas
person 2 - Cornas

  • debate ensues on Grenache vs Syrah

then P2 will expand to the prefer the Dom. Allemand to Dom Corbis

  • Debate ensues on merits of the two producers - vine situation, vilification …

then P2 will expand to say it must be mature at least 8 years old and best recent vintage was 2008.

  • debate ensues on does young or mature go best

get the idea…we all have our own likes and no one is wrong!

ps. and thats without the debate on which cut of beef to use and what herbs to add to the recipe…all which make a big difference too !


#17

Day = made. Thank you!


#18

Not a problem, @GuidoD - I can see where you’re coming from, and it’s all part of a healthy debate! :slight_smile: Viable is a completely valid word to use, I just think we called it pinot-perfect because we’d tasked Felicity with coming up with a recipe tailor-made to match that specific pinot.
Thanks for sharing about her WSET qual too - I’m jealous of her Distinction! I only got a Merit. :cry: (Not that I’m still bitter or anything…:wink:)

Now wouldn’t that be a brilliant idea! :smiley: I’m blown away by the recipe skills of this Community. I also love that whenever someone asks for food matching advice, there’s always so many suggestions, and all different! When I’ve put the advice to use, it makes the wine all the more special to know one of my fellow Society members recommended it. (And I’ve never tried a match I disagreed with yet…!)


#19

I’ve added the book already for my 2020 Xmas list - so you’ve got roughly 10 months to make it happen, that’s plenty of time :muscle: I can already see the beautifully bound Volume 1 :blush: This could also open up an avenue to non Wine Soc members as well :thinking:

Perhaps there is away also to integrate any recipes here with the food matching section of the Wine Soc website?


#20

The guardian did actually release a book of their cycle blog including top btl comment picks.

I feel a tie-up with our own groucho marx @Herbster would be an xmas best seller