Not everything in black and white makes sense…
While perusing some wine articles on The Telegraph’s website, I couldn’t help becoming distracted by a link that said ‘Eat Badgers, says Clarissa Dickson Wright.’ Without further ado, I ended up clicking on it and suddenly whatever idea I had in my head of what I was going to write about was all but gone.
The popular foodie Clarissa Dickson Wright, formerly of Two Fat Ladies fame, says that we ought to eat some badgers in order to avoid wasting the badgers that are being ritually culled for their unfortunate habit of spreading tuberculosis in cows. Of course, many will disagree, but even though I am fond of badgers, I couldn’t help understanding where Ms Dickson Wright is coming from – there was a time in the past when we wouldn’t just throw away their remains, because it would have been tremendously wasteful. The cull is very sad, the ending of their little lives is tragic; is it better that we at least make use of their remains?
But as usual, I was thinking one step ahead and wondering what wine I would match with a light, fluffy badger soufflé or a robust badger stew. Inappropriate I know, but if it’s fluffy badger stories you are after, you’ve come to the wrong site. I’ve been thinking about wine and food for a while, (in fact I think I was half heartedly dwelling on a wine/food topic before the badgers distracted me) and we’ve touched on it in our previous blogs a few times but it is almost too vast for a wine blog that is not 100% devoted to just that aspect of wine.
People have often asked me over the years what is my favourite wine and food combination. I don’t have one, but I’ve been fortunate to eat a lot of good wine with a lot of good food over the years. I was vegetarian for over 15 years so I am aware that I missed out on a lot of the best wine/food combinations while I was shunning meat.
I can remember early on in my career drinking an Italian red – I’m pretty sure it was a Brunello di Montalcino by Argiano (i’d love to say 1997? Not sure) and myself and a group of friends were finishing it off with the last course of the evening, some Italian cheeses. I don’t know what the cheese was that we had but as soon as the wine touched our palates there was silence in the room, and rather excited eye contact as we realised something quite special was happening. Honestly, it was as if time stood still while five or six wine geeks shared an erotic tasting moment. How I wish I could remember what that cheese was – perhaps one of my old friends would recall but I also remember it was late in the evening and we were all steaming drunk. The result of tasting the cheese and wine together was a palateful of the most pure, sweet honeyed nectar – it was simply extraordinary.
I also love Manzanilla Sherry with smoked almonds. One of life’s simplest, and cheapest pleasures, on a Friday evening is gritting my teeth to go to Tesco (the only place that sells the smoked almonds) and having a really cold bottle of Manzanilla ready to come home to. Fantastic. Oysters and Champagne. Fantastic. Good Asti (like Fontanafredda, for example) with a slice of cake. All of these put a big smile on my face. But sometimes I have the most fun with wine and food when it is just entirely random and unexpected – even if I have wrestled with convention to serve a wine and food that ought not to go together, because I have a sneaking suspicion that they probably will.
So if you are unsure what to have with your badger strudel, fear not. Why follow the rules when you can invent your own, with no consequences? Unless you’ve invited Jancis Robinson to dinner (and she’s awfully busy), have a bit of fun with it – you never know, your badger bourguignon with Barolo could be as good as my Brunello with mystery cheese. But if you find your idea of wine and food perfection, for God’s sake, make a note of it before you get too spannered…