Wine to Dine – March 2023 – The Wilder Kitchen

Wine columnist James Robertson picks wines and whiskies for outdoor dining.

ONCE you’ve read The Wilder Kitchen’s recipes in the March issue of Scottish Field magazine, check out these choices for dining outdoors…

The Tasting Selection, Canned Wine Company (£27.50)
No kidding here are five different styles of wine in cans, perfect for food cooked outdoors. Trust me they will pair with any of these dishes from the Wilder Kitchen. Ideal for picnics, travelling on a train or just at home this is an opportunity to try out two whites, a rosé, and two reds. Start with a classic Austrian Grüner Veltliner followed by a French Viognier with its ripe apricot fruit. Then a summer fruit Grenache Rosé finishing with a light plummy St Laurent and then the more robust Spanish Old Vine Garnacha. I was dubious at first but I have to say these wines knocked aside any reservations about wine in a can.

Villa Maria Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Sainsbury’s (£14)
This timeless classic has the structure and intensity to marry well with either the creamy smoked Haddock or the Scallop Ceviche. Maybe it was about 20 years ago that I first tasted this wine and it still does not disappoint. Grapes selected from small parcels in the coastal Awatere Valley, Marlborough provide this wine texture and finesse. There are hints of lime zest, lemongrass and a wonderful flintiness and minerality to the wine. This is classic Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.

Merak, Marko Stojakovic 2021, Naked Wines (£9)
This blend from Macedonia has an earthiness that will match the richness of the Trout but also will pair with the coal bread too. Winemaking in this part of the world dates back thousands of years so there is no wonder that one can find great value, cracking wines. This is a marriage of Vranec, a local variety that produces black cherry flavours, along with Plavec Mali similar in character to Zinfandel and Merlot to add some soft velvety notes. Marko, the winemaker, worked in France before returning home to bring Macedonian wines to these shores and I for one am glad that he did.

Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora 2022, Tesco (£8.50)
Perfect with a number of the dishes but the ideal partner with the ember baked pears, barley & yoghurt. I could not resist adding a second whisky to the dishes from the Wilder Kitchen. This has all the essence of Speyside with that sweet honey, orange zest, baked banana and apple note on the finish. Some would say that how can whisky partner a pudding, well if you have not tried it then you have missed out.

The Spice King, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Wemyss Malts (£40)
You are outside so what is better than a whisky with a hint of smoke, ginger & orange for the savoury porridge and venison chorizo. In my book you cannot beat being in the great outdoors, near a fire, cooking and have a whisky in your hand. This is a cracking blended malt with loads of spice, orange peel, citrus, barley sugar and very subtle peat notes. It is part of a triumvirate of whiskies from Wemyss each with its own distinctive character.

Read more of James’ reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.