Pairing wines and pancakes on Pancake Day
Here at The Oxford Wine Company we're not short of an excuse or two to go out and pick up a bottle of wine but, with a long and sombre January finally behind us and a fair old chunk of winter still to go, we could really use one right now. Pancake Day, therefore, comes at a handy time and presents us with the perfect opportunity to get back into matching tasty food with delicious wine.
Pairing dishes can often come across as super complicated and even a touch intimidating, particularly if you're not used to doing it. The key thing to remember is that if the wine is good and the food is good, you're probably going to enjoy the experience. Having said that, there are a few things to consider, especially when it comes to pancakes.
These pairings have been put together with English style pancakes in mind. Flat, moist, crispy and made with three simple ingredients; eggs, milk and flour. We've got to consider creaminess and fluffiness on top of the individual ingredients. When you look at it that way, a lovely oaked Chardonnay like Wente Morning Fog from the Livermore Valley in California really sets the tempo. It's got a smooth creaminess with notes of vanilla and butterscotch but also a solid acid structure behind it with flavours of lemon and lime that cut through the grease and create wonderful balance.
Pancake Day is, of course, about going all out so what follows is our picks for the perfect wines that fit whatever style of pancake you're in the mood for.
Lemon and Sugar Pancakes
Let's not go too crazy too soon; this is the perfect style to ease you into proceedings and, for pancake purists, always the first name on the team sheet. For a simple lemon and sugar pancake, we've got for a classic Moscato d'Asti from Villa Giada. This lightly sparkling, sweet but not cloying, beautifully refreshing, aromatic wine from Northern Italy is the perfect foil to complement the pancake's simple sweet and sour profile.
Moving on from light and airy straight into big and rich. What better to complement such an unctuous pancake than a smooth, deep, full-bodied Rioja Reserva? Viña Alberdi from La Rioja Alta have created this stunning 100% Tempranillo wine that remains elegant despite layers of coconut and vanilla from oak, sitting on top of stewed red fruits and subtle notes of leather, charred wood and herbs like tarragon. What's not to love?
Cheese and Ham
Veering sideways for a second, we think its important to consider at least a few savoury options. In this case, it's cheese and ham, and when that's involved there's definite wine pairing pedigree. You need something quite low in tannin, otherwise you'll mask a lot of the pancake's flavours. A white wine might fit the bill here, however we also think it's great to hit those red berry notes that bring both cheese and ham to life, so red it is!
We've picked a cool climate Pinot Noir from the Aconcagua Coast in northern Chile. The region is relatively close to the equator so the grapes have no problem ripening. But the coastal location means that the Humboldt Current, making its way up from the Antarctic, flows into the grape growing area, cooling everything down and keeping the wines fresh. Santa Macarena is just what the doctor ordered.
Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Dill Pancakes
A suggestion slightly out of left field, but it does do for a phenomenal pancake. For this option we suggest a super dry Pecorino from the Terra di Chieti IGT in Abruzzo, Italy. Vigneti Radica have made a wine that is crisp and elegant, its dryness and acidity will cut through the cheese and citrus characteristics will entice everything that's excellent about salmon. We implore you to give it a try.
Strawberries and Cream Pancakes
Moving back to the naughty options and one that opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to wine. Do you focus on the cream and punt for something like the Wente Morning Fog as mentioned above? Do you go for something that'll complement the strawberries? We've picked a light-bodied Cru Beaujolais with high acidity that'll cut right through the cream and any greasiness from the pancake itself. Les Thibaults Brouilly comes from 45 year old vines, meaning seriously concentrated fruit forward flavours that will lift your entire pancake experience.
Bacon and Maple Syrup
We've crossed the Atlantic for our final pancake suggestion but we've left one foot well and truly back on home soil. The Rathfinny Estate are at the forefront of the English wine movement and their Classic Cuvee is excellent for several reasons; first, the dosage (amount of sugar added to the final product) is relatively low so the sweetness is roughly half that of a classic Champagne. Secondly, Rathfinny are known for their bold use of Pinot Noir in their wines, a grape that adds depth and body.
When matched with bacon and maple syrup it's a case of opposites attract; the wine will both cleanse your palate and leave you hankering after the next bite.
So there you have it. No reason not to go big on Pancake Day in 2021. All these wines are available from The Oxford Wine Company either in store or online. Come on in for a chat and we'll put you onto a pairing you're bound to love.