Scottish Field wine columnist and drinks blogger Peter Ranscombe digs up five wines to pair with potatoes.
WHETHER you call them tatties, spuds or potatoes, there’s no arguing with the versatility of what could be dubbed Scotland’s national vegetable.
After a break for the Christmas food feature in December’s issue and last month’s festive fizz special, it’s back to normal this month with the return of the Wine to Dine column in February’s issue of the printed Scottish Field magazine, which celebrates the tattie’s multifaceted nature by making it the star ingredient used by the guest chefs to come up with their recipes.
That same versatility allows for a wine range of food and wine matches, with reds, whites and even some fizz featuring in my selection below but, beware, when pairing wine to potatoes, it’s important to consider the other components surrounding your spuds too…
Finest South African Cinsault, 2018
Whether your shepherd’s pie is veggie or lambie, this South African cinsault winter warmer is a winner. Cinsault was once derided as a workhorse grape only fit to fill out blends in the South of France, yet older vines – especially those grown as bushes instead of along wires – can yield some truly concentrated flavours. It’s tough to make quality cinsault at this price point but hats off to Tesco for sourcing this Fairtrade example from the Du Titskloof co-operative. There’s a savoury blackcurrant core to this wine, matched by touches of tasty redcurrant jelly.
The Best Albarino, 2017
An impressive Spanish white with fish-friendly acidity to serve alongside Neil Forbes’ sprats or anchovies swimming among the spuds. Morrisons’ wine supremo, Mark Jarman, explained to me that he picks an Albarino that’s a year older than others on the market because he likes the more developed flavours and I quite agree. The red apple and peach aromas are pronounced, while those same flavours balance the crisp acidity, which is still fresh, thanks to the excellent winemakers at the Bodegas Martin Codax co-operative, which produces this bottle for the supermarket chain.
Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir, 2016
Esteemed négociant Louis Latour ventured to the South of France for this Burgundy lookalike, which over-delivers for the price. Majestic Wines’ autumn press tasting was the brand’s first for more than a year and the start of the chain reasserting itself following its sale by London-listed Naked Wines to private equity group Fortress. It would be great to see Majestic regain its traditional ground as the stepping stone between the supermarkets and the independent wine merchants – let’s watch this space. In the meantime, we can revel in this excellent pinot from Louis Latour, which has tart cranberry and redcurrant on the nose but then switches to sweeter spun sugar and raspberry jam on the palate. Whenever my wine tasting notes say “Boom!”, it’s always a good sign.
Invivo x Sarah Jessica Parker, 2019
A celebrity New Zealand sauvignon blanc tie-up with proper credentials and the right flavours to match with tarragon. I’m seldom swayed by celebrities making wines but I was won over by this white. Invivio also teamed up with Graham Norton to make the talk show host’s sauvignon blanc. Here, the nose is full of the whole gambit of sauvignon blanc descriptors, from lemon and lemon rind through green bean and green pepper and on to guava. The telltale acidity is present and correct too.
Waitrose & Partners Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne
If you’re deep frying your tatties to turn them into chips then sparklers like this Champagne are a sure bet. Another bottle with “Boom!” in my tasting notes. Toast, cream and lemon on the nose lead onto an explosion of flavours on the palate, with raspberry, strawberry and sweeter strawberry jam joined by fresher red and green apples and savoury lemon rind. Lots of acidity, but nicely balanced by the fruit. “Blanc de noirs” Champagnes are made using only black grapes, with this example focusing on 100% pinot noir. About 55% of the blend comes from the 2015 vintage, with the remainder made up of “reserve wine” from previous years to add further depth of flavour.