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Photograph: Bryan Mayes
Photograph: Bryan Mayes

We got actual wine experts to pair our worst lockdown meals with good booze

If you’ve ever wondered what to drink with Quorn nuggets, here’s your answer

Written by
Kate Lloyd

Bert Blaize and Claire Strickett have just released a book called ‘Which Wine When: What to Drink with the Food You Love’, and that’s all well and good. But we wanted to know what to drink with the food we’ve largely eaten because we’re bored or we haven’t had a chance to go to the shop yet. We asked the serious, published wine experts to pair our worst lockdown meals with booze. This is the result. 

An entire loaf of sourdough eaten slice by slice from the counter over the course of an afternoon + tokaji aszù

‘Congratulations on your firstborn sourdough! Amazing an achievement as it is, you might get a bit bored with all that beige, so add a wine that tastes like liquid marmalade. Tokaji, from Hungary, is one of the world’s great wines, packed with flavours of apricot, tangerine, ginger and honey. This is a seriously sweet wine that is as sophisticated as they come.’

Quorn nuggets, chips, beans and lots of tomato ketchup + French merlot

‘Merlot is a bit like oven chips: there’s always some in the corner shop and it always hits the spot. It’s soft, it’s comforting, it even has a hint of the tomato ketchup about it. The perfect partner for nuggs on the sofa.’

A curry made from literally everything left in the fridge + sparkling rosé

‘Assuming you’ve banged in a load of spices to bring all these odds and ends together, you’re going to want some bubbles in your glass to keep things fresh. The fruity flavours of pink fizz will stand up to the spice. Want to buy rosé champagne? Go for it. What else is there to live for anyway? But assuming you have a smaller budget, a rosé crémant (a French sparking wine made the same way, just not in Champagne) will do a similar job for a lot less cash.’

One slice of leftover pizza with two slices of toast with Marmite + cava

‘Ah, a slice of this, a bite of that – it’s lockdown tapas. If you’re lucky you might still have a bottle of cava somewhere from your last party, which, as the Spanish know, is the best thing to drink with tapas – especially salty snacks like jamón, salted almonds and, erm, Marmite. Follow their lead and pop that cork. (Don’t substitute prosecco here – it’s too sweet and flimsy.)’

Potato ‘unicorns’ (a seasonal take on the smiley) + beaujolais

‘The last time we weren’t allowed out, we were grounded, so it’s not surprising we’re regressing to childhood favourites under lockdown. And while you hopefully weren’t downing red wine when you were a kid, beaujolais is the friendly light French red that conjures up childhood flavours like bubblegum, violet and fruity red berry drinks. Chill for half an hour before drinking – it’s basically strawberry Ribena for grown-ups.’

Uncle Ben’s ready-made rice packs with hot sauce + off-dry riesling

‘Riesling is an underrated grape to remember when enjoying spicy dishes from many of Asia’s finest cuisines. Also, when you’re desperately making spicy snacks using things from the back of the cupboard. Lots of ripe fruits, refreshing acidity and aromatic citrus notes mean you can go wild with the hot sauce. Look for an off-dry riesling (with a little sweetness) if you like your hot sauce really punchy – sugar and spice balance each other out.’

A really bad banana bread, where I substituted everything on the list of ingredients for something else and made a kind of banana brick + marsala or madeira

‘So you’ve accidentally made a cake so dense it could be in the Trump administration. Style it out by soaking the slices in a fortified wine like marsala, madeira or even a sweet sherry. The cake will absorb all the wine, making it moist, boozy and sticky. If you’re still not satisfied, top with whipped cream or mascarpone and grate some chocolate on top. Haute lockdown cuisine: unlocked.’

Just a pack of Mini Cheddars and an overripe mango + late-harvest Aussie

‘We’re not here to judge: just to recommend a wine. Mango is so sweet that you need something sweet to drink with it or the wine will taste bitter and sour, and we all have enough of that going on already, don’t we? Look for a late-harvest wine from Australia – picking the grapes late in the season makes for luscious, sweet wines, with tropical fruit flavours and a golden colour to match your Cheddars. Buy a half-bottle from most supermarkets (you could also try a sauternes, jurançon or monbazillac).’

Porridge, but as dinner + moscato d’asti

‘Breakfast for dinner, because time has no meaning any more. This calls for a “breakfast wine”, which is what the Italians call moscato d’asti. This is a very low ABV, lightly sparkling wine that tastes like peaches, honey and blossom. Also great with sorbet or fresh fruit if you’ve got room for dessert.’

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