Wine to Dine – August 2022 – The Shetland Chef

Wine columnist Peter Ranscombe selects five seafood-sociable bottles to swim alongside the recipes from The Shetland Chef.

WHAT always sitcks in my mind about dining on Shetland is the quality of its seafood.

From crab and lobster to mussels and scallops, it was so exciting to see the range of dishes on offer.

With his Indian influences, Akshay Borges pushes that variety on to the next level.

When it comes to spicy seafood, we want a balance in our wines between acidity and either ripe fruit flavours or some residual sugar to handle the heat.

Once you’ve read The Shetland Chef’s recipes in the August issue of Scottish Field magazine then check out these accompanying new world wines…

New Zealand House of Wine
Those tandoori monkfish kebabs are crying out for a medium-dry riesling, like this 9% stunner from New Zealand. John Forrest – aye, he is a real doctor – plucks leaves from vines at key points during their grapes’ growth to naturally lower the alcohol in the resulting wine, without compromising on flavour. His riesling has pronounced petrol, lime, lemon sherbet, and peach aromas, with lime cordial and lemon curd flavours on the palate to balance its acidity. It’s slightly sugary mouthfeel is akin to a spatlese riesling on the old German scale, making it an ideal partner to spicy dishes.

This Australian viognier is up to the job when it comes to matching the complex flavours that accompany those scallops. Widely available – including from the Co-op, Majestic, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco – this new world bargain doesn’t give much away with the green apple on the nose, but then delivers viognier’s classic peach and lemon sherbet on the palate, with enough seafood-friendly acidity and some off-dry roundness to take on the chilli and pink peppercorn. There’s even an attractive jasmine note hiding on the finish too. The Y-Series is Yalumba’s entry-level viognier, with plenty more to explore further up the range.

A rich new world chardonnay like this great-value South African bottle will side-step nicely alongside the crab curry. Sweet, attractive honey, tinned peach, and lemon curd aromas are joined by a whiff of wood smoke. On the palate, there’s a Californian-like riff of tinned peach, heavy vanilla, red apple, and brown sugar, with the sweet, ripe fruit kept at bay by a healthy dose of acidity. Made in Stellenbosch by those clever people at Journey’s End, it’s that combination of freshness and ripeness that enhance its spicy seafood-matching credentials.

Wine Direct
A mind-bendingly good price for a South African chenin blanc with the fruit-acid balance to excel beside mussels. There’s a cracking toffee apple-like note in Kleine Zalze’s barrel fermented chenin blanc that is going to work exceedingly well alongside the tomatoes in the mussel’s sauce. There’s an intensity to the classic red apple and peach flavours in this wine that just blew me away. All too often these days, chenin feels like its acidity-driven, but there’s an ideal fruit-acid balance in this bottle. I’d pay £18 for this and still think it was good value.

Fountainhall Wines
£3.49 for 440ml can
Celebrity chef Tony Singh’s collaboration with Aberdeen’s Fierce Beer is going to go swimmingly with the crispy hake. There’s a vanilla-like heavy hit of cardamon on the nose but then there’s much more juicy citrus fruit coming marching through on the palate to add balance. Look out for Singh and Fierce’s Citrus Pale Ale too, which is a much more savoury affair, with lemon rind, and a spicy warmth and depth – another good contender alongside Akshay Borges’ seafood dishes.

In case you missed it, catch-up on last month’s wines to match the recipes from Cafe Cuil

Plus, read more of Peter’s wine, beer, and spirits reviews on his blog, The Grape & The Grain