There’s nothing better than settling in for a cosy evening with a proper home cooked meal and the perfect glass of wine to complement it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it’s only worth picking out a special wine for your fanciest dishes, but there’s nothing wrong with making even your most everyday meal a special occasion.
Britain has a rich culinary heritage, taking inspiration from around the globe to produce some standout dishes and, if you’re looking for the perfect wine to complement British cuisine, Chile has so much to offer.
Here’s a few ideas to bring out the best of your favourite British dishes.
Fish and Chips
When you think of great British food, fish and chips surely has to be right up there. Soft, white fish and crisp batter is a match made in heaven, and we’ve got just the wine to elevate this humble dish to another level.
Fish and chips are light in texture, so you don’t want to go too heavy in your wine choice. Anything with a punch of citrus will go well (think of that squeeze of lemon over your fish) so a fresh, zippy Sauvignon Blanc is a brilliant choice. For a particularly crisp, zingy wine, look to the Casablanca and Leyda Valleys, where the cooler temperatures keep the acidity locked in.
If there’s one thing the British do well, it’s a roast dinner with all the trimmings. Whatever your choice of meat, or even if you go for a nut roast, it's a mainstay of British cuisine.
Lamb is a real delicacy so needs a special wine to do it justice. For rich, red meat you need a wine with texture and body. Plus, if you’re going for a strong flavoured gravy, you’ll need a wine with the character to match. A Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon, with its typical mint character is a great option, as is this rather special Cabernet from Lapostolle . Lapostolle have been pioneers of premium Chilean wine since the mid 90s, and effortlessly combine their extensive French winemaking heritage, with Chile’s unique and varied terroir to produce some world class wines.
Red meat needs a wine with structure to stand up to the richness, and also the balance and complexity to not be daunted by all the different elements in this most classic of beef dishes.
You could go down the Cabernet Sauvignon route, but we think a Beef Wellington, with all its sophistication, needs a more elegant wine. Chile has really made a name for itself by producing some top quality Syrah, particularly in the cooler regions like Elqui, where winemakers can use the cooler temperatures to make wines that have an Old World elegance to them. We think a top notch Syrah would be great here, with its perfect balance and note of black pepper.
Sausages and Mash
It might be a humble meal, but when you add good quality sausages, a mountain of creamy mash potato and a rich onion gravy, great things happen!
To make this dish even better, you need a super smooth wine, with loads of fruit character and a long finish. Carmenere is a great choice, with its fine tannins and juicy red fruit flavour, it’s an ideal match for your bangers and mash. It has the richness of flavour to stand up to the gravy, and a silky smooth texture that will complement your sausages. Some refer to Carmenere as Chile’s signature grape, and while there is so much more to Chile than that, they are definitely leading the charge when it comes to getting the best from this old Bordeaux variety.
A true example of fusion cooking, Chicken Tikka may have its origins in India, but over the last 50 years it has become a British staple.
Succulent chicken in a creamy tomato based sauce, with a healthy splash of Indian spices, there’s a lot going on in this dish, which can make finding the perfect wine match a little tricky.
Remember that spice accentuates oak and tannin, so stick to a light, vibrant wine. Aromatic whites, like a Gewurztraminer or a Riesling , can work well, but sometimes you need a little more body and richness to stand up to the full on flavour and texture of a curry. This is where a fruity rosé can work well, like this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rosé , which is bursting with fruit flavour. It hails from the Curicó region in the Central Valley, where the warm Mediterranean climate leads to super ripe grapes, while the cool nights help retain the freshness and acidity.
So far our list has been heavy on the meat, but if you prefer veggies to be the star of the show, that’s no problem as Chile can easily come up with the perfect wine match as it boasts such diversity of styles with New World ripeness and an old fashioned hint of elegance that makes their wines so food friendly.
Mushrooms can be tricky, with their earthy umami flavour, but that doesn’t mean it can't be done. You just need a wine that has the same savoury character, but isn’t too tannic and heavy that it will overwhelm the delicate texture of the mushrooms.
This is where a good Pinot Noir from Malleco Valley comes into its own, with its earthiness, light tannins and captivating red fruit character. The Malleco Valley is the most southerly of Chile’s wine regions, and has a cool, wet climate. It can be challenging to grow grapes here, but the region is making a name for itself as an exciting source of premium wines. The region is still establishing itself, but is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Afternoon tea, that most refined of British traditions, can be a minefield in terms of wine matching. With so many different components, you need to go with something that will partner most things, from delicate sandwiches, to scones laden with jam and cream.
A fresh and fruity sparkling wine from renowned producer Undurraga,is a great option here. It has the structure and crisp acidity to stand up to the sweet elements, but also the lightness to perfectly complement those dainty sandwiches.
There’s not a lot that beats a big helping of warm apple crumble smothered with thick custard. Chile has so much to offer in terms of wine, and their sweet wines are definitely worth hunting out. The drier, warmer areas, such as around the Central Valley, boast the perfect conditions for producing lusciously ripe late harvest wines, while in the cooler, wetter areas to the South, there are examples of wines made by noble rot (like Sauternes) which gives more honeyed, marmalade flavours.
You need a wine that has enough sweetness to match this classic pud, but also complement the fruity apple and the sweet spice flavours. A late harvest wine is perfect, as the grapes have been left for longer so they are super ripe and juicy and have higher sugar levels than normal. This extra time enables the grapes to develop more complex flavours and aromas, this makes them a real treat and more than capable of matching your favourite dessert.
Why choose Chilean wine?
Chile produces such a diverse wealth of wine styles, it may be a cliche but there really is something for everyone. Next time you’re planning to whip up a traditional British dish, you’ll know exactly where to turn to find the perfect wine.