From France’s Toulouse to the Lorne square slice, each country has its own variation on the humble banger – and television cookery programmes have put many of them centre stage. Spanish chorizo graces dozens of recipes, while black pudding has steadily climbed up the gastronomic hierarchy since its days as a breakfast makeweight.
So, with that in mind, I undertook some food matching to test out a range of wines against basic pork sausages, wild boar versions and black pudding from haggis superstars Macsween. This exercise used their original style rather than the microwave ones; the result seemed firmer and drier.
I expected rustic reds from, say, Southern France to do well with the sausages and, given the raspberry dressings that often accompany black pudding, for pinot noir and beaujolais to score well there. In fact, the best match with the pork banger was a viognier!
Perhaps I shouldn’t be taken aback; last year, a mosel topped the rankings in my roast pork matching exercise. Apple sauce is pork’s classic accompaniment, so perhaps wine with ripe fruit components can do a similar job. Interestingly, an Old World version of the grape hit the spot significantly better than a more expensive South African example.
That winner itself – 2013 Elegant Frog Viognier (£8.75 at Sainsbury’s) – was made by Jean-Claude Mas in Languedoc and a small proportion of the grapes was fermented and aged in oak. The result is rich and substantial, with buttery and sweet spice notes coupled with floral peach and minty flavours yet tangerine-centred acidity.
Red wine came into its own with the more substantial wild boar version and the best option – again surprisingly – was a well aged Rioja. Although the colour of 2005 Finest* Vina Mara Rioja Gran Reserva (£11.49 at Tesco) from Baron de Ley shows the wine’s vintage, the palate lies about its age – vibrant acidity enthusiastically enlivens the black cherry fruit that sits atop those more predictable mellow vanilla influences, softened tannins and hints of liquorice.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that oaked Rioja worked successfully with pork sausages. After all, Francois Chartier, who worked at Spain’s famous El Bulli restaurant, pointed out that pork and black pudding both contain chemical compounds that also appear in oak barrels. I’ve always snorted at such wine matching suggestions but maybe this old sceptic needs to change his thinking.
On more traditional ground, I found a juicy, young Spanish red with plenty of acidity that worked pretty well with black pudding. 2013 El Cometa del Sur Terra Alta (£6.79 until 1 September at Majestic) combines syrah, garnacha and carignan and hails from Terra Alta in Western Catalunya. It is fresh and lively with precious little tannin to dim its juicy red cherry flavours and raspberry-centred, minty acidity – which is a product of the vineyard’s altitude (and despite its latitude). There is also some beetroot-style earthiness to add substance.
Nevertheless, despite the earlier chemistry lesson, the best black pudding match was with a white – and one with a bit of residual sugar. Reviving – perhaps – those parallels with apple sauce, the off-dry 2013 Bernard Fouquet Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray (£9.99 until 1 September at Majestic) offers the red apple, white peach and honey notes you’d expect from Loire chenin but here it also delivers a textured savoury finish with fresh acidity, touches of vanilla and (of course) a brilliant rapport with Macsween’s immensely popular black pudding!
2013 Valpolicella Valpantena: Verona, Italy: 12.5 per cent: A rather nice, medium bodied example (from a developing Valpolicella sub zone) with the juicy, cherry fruit and vibrant raspberry charged acidity that lesser versions often lack. With only gentle tannins and no oak at all, the fruit influences shine through brightly – accentuated neatly by an attractive nutmeg backdrop. (£8 at M&S)
2013 Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Grigio: East Coast, New Zealand: 13.5 per cent: Although this has the peachy aromas and off-dry palate of all those “lift music PG’s”, the resemblance ends there. Here, you have fresh red apple and quince flavours with crisp grapefruit acidity, a food-friendly savoury edge and creamily textured wine of substance. (£6.99 – instead of £8.49 until 26 August – at the Co-op)
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