Seventeen wine critics, including Hakkasan's group wine buyer Christine Parkinson, Tate head sommelier Hamish Anderson and Saturday Kitchen regulars Susie Barrie and Peter Richards, blind tasted hundreds of wines against the dishes for the What Food What Wine 2012 Awards, before deciding which were the best pairings.
Perhaps one of the most surprising results was that sherry came out as a top match with fish and chips. Judges voted La Gitana Manzanilla an 'outstanding' match to the dish for matching 'in weight and saltiness' while two New Zealand whites - Morrisons' Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2011 and Nobilo Icon Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 - were voted best matches under £10 and over £10 respectively.
Also surprising was a white wine as best match to cheese. Durbanville Hills Chardonnay 2010 was voted best match to mature cheddar.
Curry and wine
A 2011 Hungarian rosé from Spice Trail came out as an 'outstanding' match with Indian curries. Judges attended a special tasting at Vivek Singh's Cinnamon Kitchen to try wines alongside four popular Indian dishes - chicken korma, chicken tikka masala, lamb rogan josh and the restaurant's own prawn curry - and found it matched all of the spiced dishes best.
Other good matches to curry, notoriously difficult to match with wine, included a New Zealand Gewurztraminer (best match to chicken tikka masala) and a South African Viognier (best match to chicken korma).
Italian restaurateurs may be interested to know that the best matches for lasagne were not from Italy, but from Portugal and New Zealand. Naked Wines' Montaria 2011 from Portugal was voted best match for lasagne under £10 while Villa Maria Private Bin Syrah 2010 came out as best match for lasagne over £10.
Chair judge Peter Richards said: “Top award winners came from all over – from the Loire to Aconcagua, from the Portugal to Hampshire, from big and small, New World and Old, pricey and eminently affordable.”
Launched last year, the competition, sees judges blind taste the wines alongside 16 popular dishes before rating them under four categories - sound match, very good match, excellent match and outstanding. Judges know no more information about wines other than if they cost more or less than £10.
The 16 dishes are:
- Chicken Korma
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Lamb Rogan Josh
- Cinnamon Kitchen's prawn curry
- Fish and chips
- Smoked salmon
- Mushroom risotto
- Rump steak & fries
- Roast lamb
- Mature cheddar
- Turkey with sage and onion stuffing
- Strawberries and cream
- Apple crumble and custard
- Christmas pudding with rum sauce
Visit What Food What Wine for the full list of best matches.