Wine pairings are notoriously tricky to get right. From acidity to tannins, the complexity of each bottle must be balanced against the tastes and textures of every course — with just one flavour faux pas threatening to upend the entire meal.
Thankfully, when the great and the good descended on the original Annabel’s for a black tie dinner to celebrate Vacheron Constantin’s Fiftysix collection, we called on leading London wine merchants, Berry Bros and Rudd, to pick the pairings.
So, if you’re looking to cook up a similar storm of beef fillet, truffle risotto or lobster this autumn, here are the best bottles to complement your cuisine.
To complement the texture and richness of lobster…
The starter, a ginger-poached lobster with kohlrabi, hazelnut dressing and drilled fennel, was paired with a 2017 Mullineux White Old Vines. Recommended by the sommelier at Berry Bros, it is a textured, rich style white wine, and a perfect match as the richness of the chenin blanc works with the texture of the lobster, whilst the sweet spice flavour brings out the ginger flavours in the dish.
Concentrated and richly scented fruit on the nose, the attack is generous and leads to a mid-palate filled with glossy, ripe fruit — think apricot kernel and white peach. Stony undertones layer with fresh acidity, bringing definition and further complexity. The perfect pairing with lobster.
2017 Mullineux White Old Vines
To bring out the flavours of beef fillet…
A 2012 Barolo, Brunate, Marcarini, Piedmont was nominated the ideal bottle to pair with our main – a black treacle-marinated fillet of beef, with herb potatoes, roasted cabbage and English mustard emulsion. Berry Bros described this as a lovely vintage, boasting beautiful ripe red cherry and blackcurrant fruit with a sweetness from oak — all of which matched the sweeter elements of the dish.
At the same time, the lively acidity of the Nebbiolo grape cut through the beef and balanced out the tang of the mustard and the umami of the Parmesan present in the dish. Overall, the bottle was gloriously scented ,with a lightness of touch that belied its age-worthy staying power.
2012 Barolo, Brunate, Marcarini, Piedmont
To temper the strong sweetness of chocolate…
To stop the dessert — a chocolate mousse dome with praline centre, caramelised hazelnut and banana sorbet — becoming too cloying, Berry Bros suggested a 1985 Taylor’s Port. Rich, sweet, but fresh, the dark chocolate and coffee notes in the mature port complemented the chocolate flavours in the pudding and the dried fruit flavours balanced out the more tropical notes.
The port boasts a complex, dense palate which is still evolving and will continue to develop for a further 5 to 20 years. And, of all the vintage ports, those of Taylor need the longest time to mature and even when fully mature seem to have an inner strength and firmness that keep them going for decades. The ideal complex port for a simply sweet dessert.
1985 Taylor's Port
Take a look behind the scenes of Gentleman’s Journal and Vacheron Constantin’s party to celebrate the Fiftysix collection at the original Annabel’s…