Drinks writer Peter Ranscombe selects five wines to go with spinach dishes.
AFTER a hard day of battling Bluto and tooting on his pipe, which wine would Popeye select to woo Olive Oyl and pair with his beloved spinach?
With its earthy, iron-rich flavour, spinach can be highly versatile in dishes, which opens up a whole host of opportunities for both red and white wine matches.
Sauvignon blanc and unoaked chardonnay are classic pairings, as are lighter reds like pinot noir, especially cooler climate examples with fresher acidity.
It’s worth thinking about the other ingredients that will sit alongside spinach in a dish, especially goats’ cheeses, which reinforce sauvignon blanc’s credentials.
Here are some suggestions to match a range of dishes harnessing spinach as their key ingredient – hopefully even Popeye will be able to take a (spinach) leaf out of our book in his food and wine matching…
Vignobles & Compagnie Colnem Costières de Nîmes, 2017
Another amazing-value white from Lidl, on sale until 24 January, packed full of savoury apricot and lemon rind. Made from a blend of classic white Rhone grape varieties – with savoury roussanne, marsanne and grenache blanc and fruitier vermentino and viognier – this is a bit like a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. Its fresh acidity is balanced by its fruitiness.
Finca la Pampa Argentinian Sauvignon Blanc
Spinach-loving sauvignon blanc will also complement goats’ cheese dishes thanks to its fresh yet balanced acidity. Hailing from Argentina’s Uco Valley, this wine has spent three months on its lees – the dead yeast cells left over after the grapes’ sugar has been fermented into alcohol – which builds up its roundness in the mouth. On the nose, it’s packed full of gooseberry, green pepper and green bean aromas, with lemon rind joining the gooseberry on the palate.
Domaine Agly Bio Cotes du Roussillon, 2017
Earthier spinach dishes can match the savoury dark fruits of this Crozes Hermitage-esque red. Violets, roast meat, vanilla and black fruits on the nose give way to fresher blackcurrant tastes on the tongue. It’s a great-value blend of 80% syrah and 20% grenache, with well-integrated tannins, warming alcohol and a kick of fresh acidity.
Gertie Cabernet Franc Clare Valley, 2017
Cabernet Franc is such an underrated grape and in Australia it’s produced this complex yet fresh wine. This is one of the most exciting bottles I’ve tried in recent months – I often find cabernet franc can taste unripe, with vegetal flavours, but this example from the Clare Valley is rounded and fruity, with attractive cranberry and rose Turkish delight notes dancing in amongst the blackcurrant jam sweetness. Winemaker Ben Marx harvests fruit from just five rows of vines to produce this very special cabernet franc.
Eradus Sticky Micky Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
£15.95 for 500ml
A gorgeous New Zealand sweet wine with enough acidity to stop dessert becoming cloying. Sticky Micky is a reliable pudding wine year-in, year-out, with its citrus notes of lime and lemon sherbet and its sweet caramel and honey flavours. That same sauvignon blanc freshness that works well with savoury spinach dishes offers a great pairing opportunity with more unusual sweeter dishes – although I quite fancy a cup of tea with this cake as a fine alternative.