There is no denying that writing this post feels slightly odd. When I agreed to take part in French Wines with Style, a bloggers challenge funded by FranceAgriMer, I ran the event pass my dad. He was completely bemused, "What do you mean? why do our wines need promoting? surely French wines are the best." he said and in doing so, echoing the voice of millions of French people who know nothing else but their French wines and would never dream of drinking anything else but what they know.
A couple of weeks later, my father had died. We stood, glass in hand, in his favorite café, in a small French town situated "sur la route du soleil" between Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône" toasting his life with his favorite rosé and white wines. The red was reserved for occasions such as a family meal at home.
I haven't had the opportunity to experiment with "Les Dauphins". A Côtes du Rhône Village 2011 (RRP £7.59), a classic Rhône wine described as "bursting with ripe summer fruits, all backed up with rich, spicy and peppery flavours" but I had had time to go to my local wine shop and asked for advice on pairing it. There, I was given the 3 Golden Rules of matching wine and food
Rule number 1 : Weight of wine with weight of the dish - Wines, heavy in alcohol, such as this Cotes du Rhone at 13.5%, are perfect partners for hearty stews.
Rule number 2: Match acidity with high acidity. That's why cold white wines are so delicious with fatty/creamy dishes.
Rule number 3: Tannins go well with protein but not with fatty foods so don't even think of serving that Bordeaux with a cream-sauce.
And a last mysterious rule added as an after-thought just as I was leaving the store; one for me to ponder on the road: Match sweetness with saltiness.
I also had the time to enjoy the bottle of Domaine de la Croix Belle. A Grenache Blanc-Viogner 2010 (RRP £8.95). A wine from the Languedoc. Languedoc- Roussillon is the world's largest wineyard with 270,000 hectares of wines. Imbued with Mediterranean sunshine, it produces charming underated wines. My dad would have approuved of The domaine de Belle Croix. A medium weight wine with the distinctive character of the Viogniers, I found it fresh and spicy.
So I opted for pairing it with crab cupcakes and drunk it as an aperitif.
makes 18 cupcakes
2tbsp salted butter
1/2 small onion diced finely
1/4 diced red pepper
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 and a pinch of baking powder
60ml full fat milk
225g crabmeat well drained and all the "bits" picked out
For the frosting you will need to mix 90g of cream cheese with a little milk and 2tsp of lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4 and spray nonstick cupcake tin
In a pan melt the butter and cook all the vegetables till soft
In a saucepan cook the polenta according to instruction. leave it all to cool
Then mix everything in a large bowl, adding the crab last
Spoon the mixture in the cupcake tin, you will have to cook it in three batches
Cook for 15 minutes, rotate the tin half way through
Add the frosting when cool
Disclosure, I was sent a hamper with the two named wines, a small selection of mixed herbs, mustard and bbq sauce to complete the challenge.