GUEST POST from Simon Wright: Pairing Spice with wine!
Pairing spice with beer for our Ras-el-hanout is the fifth in a series of guest posts by Simon Wright, manager of a wine shop in Cambridge who we met at a food festival. He wanted to come up with pairings for our spice to give people a better understanding of how different spices work well with wines and craft beers. You can find out more about all-things-wine on his blog & we hope you enjoy experimenting with his suggestions as much as we did!
“I spent ages deciding whether an exotically spiced red or a voluptuous, rich white would work best with Ras-el-hanout. With such a complex mix of flavours, elements of both red & white wine have something to offer as a pairing. Then it dawned on me… why not use the best qualities of both and go for a rosé!
Having worked in wine retail for the last four years I have seen rosé wine gradually establish itself as the go-to wine during the sunnier months. What’s more, the cliché of it being seen as a ‘woman’s drink’ has thankfully worn itself out and I now see it being picked off the shelf by men & women in more or less equal measure. The style of choice for UK drinkers is undoubtedly the dry, pale style famously produced in the Provence region of Southern France.
However, if we want to perfectly match the masterful blend of spices in the Ras-el-hanout mix we’re going to need a bit more oomph in our rosé! Much of the pink wine produced in France’s Rhone valley & the Spanish region of Rioja have this oomph so this is the style I’m going to go for. They have a much deeper colour and bolder red fruit flavours than many other styles of rosé & usually a touch of sweetness. The slightly higher amount of sugar found in these wines, as well as the fact that pink wine is served chilled, will help to temper the exotic spices in the blend & give a sense of refreshment with each sip.
I think if we went with a red wine served at room temperature, the dryness and structure of the wine would be at odds with any nuance in the spice mix and there would be a bit of a stand-off between the two. The type of flavours you get with these deep rosés will also work well with the spice; lots of fresh red fruits & often subtle floral notes that will harmonise perfectly with the rose petal & hint of lavender found in the spice mix!
As mentioned above, the Rhone & Rioja are traditionally good places to look for these styles of wines but examples can be found throughout the world. The clue is usually in the colour: the deeper the pink, the more suitable for the Ras-el-hanout it’s likely to be.
As always, let me know what you think of this match, and share any pairings you put together.
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See you next time!