Wine & Pies?

Wine and Pies may not seem to be the most obvious of bedfellows, the latter more associated with a beer or mug of tea, but as the pies in question are self-styled gourmet pies then why not trade up on the lubrication as well?

When I first heard of the New Zealand Gourmet Pie Company I hadn’t realised how much New Zealanders (& Australians for that matter) love a meat pie but it seems that they do more than most, enough for an ex-pat to set up in business here in the North East (see more on Sky Tyne & Wear). Accompanying the pies at The Castlegate on Thursday 21st June were a selection of wines from PortoVino, the local Portuguese importer run by Alan Holmes and Paul Raven.

The format was simple – 7 pies, 7 wines. Try as much as you like of each and decide which was the best Pie & Wine match up.

On the pie menu were;

  • Steak & Cheese. Rich and beefy with a hint of blue cheese.
  • Minted Lamb. Deliciously fresh with tender lamb.
  • Thai Chicken Curry. Pleasant enough although, for me lacking, strong flavour.
  • Peppered steak. Delightfully peppery.
  • Chilli Beef. ¡Ay, caramba! this had a kick of chilli!
  • Spinach and Goats Cheese. My personal choice, creamy with sweet potato.
  • All Day Breakfast. A hearty bite, but not my favourite.

For the wines;

  • Terra da Lobos White. Fernao Pires and Sauvignon Blanc give a dry, herbal wine with a short finish.
  • Tons de Duorum White. An eclectic blend of Viosinho, Rabigato, Verdelho, Arinto and Moscatel from this Duoro producer giving a pungent floral nose and complex herbal bitterness, stylistically similar to a Rueda Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Dalva White Port. Luscious, smooth and sweet, this rounded, moreish wine was a big crowd pleaser on the night.
  • Terra da Lobos Rosé. A blend of grapes including Touriga Nacional and Castelão gives a simple, clean and fresh rosé with a nod to sweet.
  • Terra da Lobos Red. Castelão and Cabernet Sauvignon make a smooth, fruity red with fine, dry tannins and a little graphite on the palate.
  • Marques de Borba Red. Another complex blend including Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez (Tempranillo) and Touriga Nacional. This was fruity with young tannins, quire smooth to drink.
  • Boas Vinhas Red. Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) which gave a slightly harsh taste with a bitterness to the tannins and some heat on the finish.

What I loved about the evening (apart from the endless choice of wine and pie combinations) was the chance to taste wine with food, something rarely done outside of a meal. Although the camouflaging effect of the food flavours meant I couldn’t pull out all of the subtleties of the wine  it highlighted an undeniable truth, wine and food are meant for each other….including pies!!

As for the best combinations – for each pie I found a wine that worked, or looking from the other side for each wine I found its partner pie.

The best combinations were;

  • Thai Chicken Curry with Tons de Duorum white; the herbal bitterness of the wine offsetting the lemongrass and coconut in the pie.
  • Spinach and Goats cheese with the Dalva White Port; both equally creamy and sweet.
  • Peppered steak with the Marques de Borba red; the wine’s young tannins working well with the pepper.
  • Chilli Beef with the Terra da Lobos red; the smooth fruit managed to tame the fiery heat of the chilli better than the others.

The final challenge of the night was to suggest the best match for the All Day Breakfast pie, not easy with the mix of textures and flavours (Sausage, Bacon, Egg & Tomato).
The White Port did well, as did the Boas Vinhas red, but since the piece of pie had more sausage I favoured the red (though the egg, tomato and bacon part loved the Port!)

So there you are, Wine and Pies. It works!

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