Let's Eat

Fantastic fizz that needs no nosh


By the time you read this, trophies will have been presented to the winners of the second annual What Food What Wine (WFWW) competition ( The awards were announced in the summer, but there’s a lag before the recipients gather to get their gongs.

WFWW is the newest wine competition in the UK and different from others. The International Wine Challenge, Decanter awards, and International Wine & Spirit Competition judge wines in isolation.

WFWW does something more ambitious, in its way. Wines are submitted for particular dishes, and the judging crew of writers, sommeliers and buyers taste wine and food together. Are they allowed to spit out the fish and chips or chicken tikka masala? Just wondering.

I admire wine writers who apply rigour and intelligence to food and wine matching. And I regard certain matches (mmm, sweet wine and blue cheese) as poss-essing a quasi-mystical per-fection. But al-though I almost always drink wine with food, I find it easier to taste it alone.

One wine that doesn’t make me think about food is champagne, and with the partyseason upon us, it’s time to ponder the question of festive fizz.

Prices keep creeping up, and the disastrous 2012 harvest (down 40 per cent) may eventually speed up the rises. Until then you don’t have to pay a fortune for very good wine.

I’m a fan of the refined and delicate Sains-bury’s Blanc de Blancs NV and love its £22.49 price tag, and until December 11 it is down 25 per cent to £16.86. Going higher up in price and elegance, M&S’s De Saint Gall Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru NV (£28) is seriously creamy and toasty.

Finally, Roederer is most famous for its bankers-bonussy Cristal, but Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV is a rich, luxurious wine that gives a grande marque name without breaking the bank. Not when you buy it at Majestic, anyway – down from £40 to £30. Worth laying in a few bottles for the holiday season. And the only thing you need to match it with is a glass.

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