Hospo pairings – around the world

Globe

A country-by-country survey of just some of the food and wine matches suggested by the professionals we have welcomed recently. See this guide to our hospo pairings series.

Pandemics and climate-change issues remind us just how global we are. Not in a good way. But these hospos have reminded me just how global we are, and how global the language of food and wine is, in a very good way.

They wrote in from over 50 countries. People in London suggested Korean food, people from New York suggested Scandinavian food, people in Japan, Finland and Hong Kong suggested classic French pairings. Some wrote about incredible fusions of culture, on the plate and in the bottle: Sangiovese from Australia, Savagnin from California.

Others wrote, homesick and often an ocean away from home, about memories of food or wine they miss. Others, patriotic to the bone, wrote about the wines and foods from their own shores.

I learned a whole new language. New foods, new dishes. If you looked at my Google history over the past few weeks, you’d think I was obsessed with food. Or starving. Hundreds of searches for words such percebes, uni, sarmale, Biangbiang noodles and yabbies filled my search box. I became familiar with poutine, pupusas and pluma. I can tell you all about mazurkas and pierogi (or perogy) from Poland, Krempita cake from Serbia and sabih from Iraq. There really is a thing called crack pie, and banana chess pie is not made up either.

I learned that Rubia Gallega is a rare breed of Galician beef cattle, that pad gra prow is Thai street food made with holy basil, and mapo tofu is a tongue-numbing Sichuan dish. Dalmatian pašticada is actually a Croatian beef stew which takes a couple of days to cook, and salo is Slavic cured pork fat similar to lardo but cured with different spices. And Mexicans have their own version of noble rot. It’s called huitlacoche. It’s a fungal disease of corn (disparagingly referred to as corn smut, if you’re not Mexican), looks horrendous and is considered a great delicacy. You can even buy it in tins.

The pairings below go around the world by country in alphabetical order, based on the nationality of the cuisine (and, in most cases, the hospo). 

Argentina

From Tegui Restaurant in Buenos Aires, Alma Maria starts with an elegant-sounding pairing of El Esteco Old Vinos Torrontés and raw cow-milk ricotta with fennel juice. Macarena Carmona from Mendoza goes very traditional with Argentinian asado, but sidesteps the cliché of Malbec and opts for Cabernet Franc. Sergio Martin Carrasco, also from Mendoza (Restaurante María, Bodega Séptima), suggests Mendocinian empanadas with Septima Obra Malbec 2018.

Armenia

Arpine Manukyan wrote in from Armenia: ‘Areni Noir with local Armenian dishes – dolma, harissa or basturma.

Australia

2017 Ravensworth Rosé de Florete Nebbiolo, a sous voile rosé, with kangaroo tartare, sweet potato crisp, dried cheese and malt’, writes in Bridget Raffal of Sixpenny in Sydney with her fascinating pairing. I even went to check the Sixpenny menu, and yup, it’s there (although sadly not on their home-dining-delivery menu). I just wish we had a tasting note for the sous voile rosé. ‘Snapper pie and Yarra Valley Chardonnay’, says Jacqui Gordon from Supernormal in Melbourne. Simple, homey, but snapper pie seems to be an especially Australian thing.

Austria

Käsekrainer with young, fresh Blaufränkisch from Eisenberg is the gutsy Austrian pairing from Mathias Riepl of Gasthaus Riepl in Burgenland. You’ll need to do some serious post-prandial hiking to work that one off. Perhaps a pairing post-lockdown?

Belarus

Maria Zhalezniak wrote in from Minsk with a thoroughly Slavic menu but wines from the sunny-opposite end of Europe: ‘Rye bread, lard and pike caviar accompanied by Jerez oloroso.’ It’s a startling combination that sounds like it would be a sublime creamy, salty, malty mouthful. She also suggests Meursault with ‘domestic Belarusian mashed potatoes with Beurre d'Isigny’, fusing France and Belarus in one pillowy, buttery moment. Apparently, potatoes are so core to national cuisine that the Russians used to call Belarusians bulbashi, a rather disdainful conjugation of the Belarusian word for potato. I think Maria has just reclaimed that word for Belarus!

For such a tiny country, there is a high proportion of serious, sherry-loving foodies. Artsiom Khamitsevich, from a restaurant called Simple in Minsk, also goes for a fusion of traditional, modern and sherry: ‘Smorrebrod with lard, broccoli mousse and horseradish – our modern twist on truly famous Belarusian dish – we are pairing with iconic Fino Inocente from Valdespino. Saturated, intense, ironic, bright and dramatic.’ Ferran’s description of rich, impressive and toasty makes so much sense with this – indeed, dramatic and intense – pairing.

Brazil

'One of my favourite pairings is a dry Pinot Noir-based sparkling eg Crémant de Bourgogne rosé brut with my wife's traditional Brazilian Feijoada, a black-bean stew with many offcuts of pork, beef, smoked sausages. Delicious!’ This from Silvio Castanheira of Canoe restaurant in Toronto. Yum. Recipe, please!

Canada

Daewhan Lim of CinCin in Vancouver stole my heart. CinCin, I hope you know how lucky you are to have a somm with so much passion and poetry.

‘Spring in Vancouver, BC, Canada, brings fresh, local zucchini blossoms. A beloved preparation is stuffing them with garden-herb-infused goat cheese from Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, just a short ferry ride from Vancouver Island, before deep frying them. Then finished with a light drizzle of honey. This results in a lovely crunch on the outside with a flavour explosion of spring on the inside. The slightly salty yet herbaceous cheese contrasts well with the sweet honey. This dish is a cracking match with Tantalus Old Vines Riesling from the heart of Okanagan Valley. This low-yielding wine has wonderful fruit concentration balanced by high acidity which helps cut the rich cheese. Stone-fruit notes of apricot and peach dance in your mouth with the honey drizzled atop the zucchini blossoms. Citrus notes from the Riesling are harmonious with the zucchini blossoms and the garden herbs in the cheese. This matching showcases the local farm produce and wines from this lovely Canadian region. As spring begins to bloom, I have been thinking about this dish a lot. This is one of my favourite seasonal dishes served at our restaurant during spring. I hope that globally we can get through these tough times together in solidarity. Thank you to the team at Jancisrobinson.com for this generosity!’

Coralie Léveillé from SAQ in Montréal was rather more breviloquent, but she got her point across: ‘Poutine and Riesling!’ Renée Lachance was a little more specific, very Canadian and quirky creative with her poutine pairing: ‘The Old Third 2016 Golden Russet Sparkling cider, Cuvée Yquelon, with a foie gras poutine from Québec City.’

Chile

The crossovers between Spain and South American countries were interesting in both their similarities and differences. But these two, from Chile, caught my appetite.

‘I strongly suggest local chorizos (handcrafted sausages) with full-bodied Chilean Syrah. Mostly of the Rhône grapes that are growing in high Andes altitude match perfectly with fat-complex food because of the high acidity and tannins.’ This from Francisco Vargas in Santiago, sommelier at Hotel Bidasoa. Renato Moreti, also from Santiago, suggested a fabulous combination of ‘Cinsault from Itata, southern Chile, with a pastel de choclo – a beautiful and exquisite typical dish, a kind of pie, made of sweetcorn, meat and chicken.’

China

There were so many choices from China that it was hard to slim them down. But Melbourne Shanghai Street Restaurant’s Cindy Fu suggests Yarra Valley Chardonnay with Shanghai dumplings, pork and sour cabbage; and Cornell Wu from the Shangri-La Hotel in Guangzhou in southern China pairs richly umami, spicy Cantonese roast goose with Martinborough Pinot Noir. But it’s Bill Liu, from the Weekend Wine Bar in Shenzhen, who pulls out all the stops: Chinese century egg (preserved egg) with vintage champagne with more than 15 years of age. ‘Umami bomb’, he says.

Crete

Lida Papamatthaiaki from Oliveology in London suggests a traditional Cretan lamb dish called askolibroi with the barrel-aged Douloufakis Aspros Lagos Vidiano.

Croatia

Branimir Vukšić from Restaurant Pelegrini in Šibenik writes, ‘Here on the Croatian coast we have a number of indigenous variety of grapes. My perfect match will be bit macerated and oaked Debit with domestic black pasta with slowly cooked rooster in a sauce of chicken stock and vegetables.’

Josip Zubak, also from Šibenik, suggests slow-cooked beef tongue, sautéed cabbage and homemade gnocchi with a bit of chicken broth sauce paired with Sladić’s Lasin 2017 – Lasin being a very rare red Croatian indigenous grape variety. Keeping it very Croatian, Vjeko Provic from Hotel Merlot in Opuzen calls for Crljenak with traditional Dalmatian pašticada.

Cyprus

Gergana Nikolova from Polis goes for the simplest local pairing: unoaked Xynisteri with grilled red mullet and grilled veg.

Denmark

Mads Mönniche, sommelier at Lyst, sent in a pairing that was slightly off the wall but sounded absolutely delicious: ‘We did an excellent pairing at the restaurant with Danish beer porridge (a dish made with sweet beer, brown sugar and Danish rye bread) paired with Justino's Terrantez 60 Year Old Reserve. The rancio notes and elevated acidity of the madeira beautifully complemented dark notes and creaminess of the beer porridge.’

Estonia

Merit Berzin from Kohvik Fellin Café-Restaurant pairs an unusually aged Ch Simone Palette Rosé 2012 and Estonian wild mushroom-filled dumplings. But it was Assar Jogar’s (owner of Estonia Wine Bar in Tartu) submission that made me laugh (and cheer him on!):

‘We all know different kind of porridges but some days ago my friend wanted to mock me and asked me what wine would I suggest for buckwheat porridge 😊. I offered for him to try it with Trentino Pinot Grigio. After some thinking I made myself the porridge boiled in chicken broth. Added some roasted onions, fresh basil and tomatoes and on top of porridge I put quite a large spoonful of proper butter. I tried the food with Mosel Riesling off dry (11% alc), Cava, Trentino DOC Pinot Grigio and the last one was Alsace Grand Cru Eichberg Pinot Gris. I have to say that the last one was like perfect pairing 😊. My suggestion for buckwheat porridge is Pinot Gris from Alsace.’

Finland

Ohratto (sort of risotto but made from barley and coloured with beetroot) and Pinot Noir’ is the simple but very Finnish suggestion from Tomi Naarvaka in Helsinki, the wine manager at Helsinki Airport's wine bar. Johanna Piirainen, a somm from Restaurant Näsinneula in Tampere, takes the fine-dining angle: Finnish elk pastrami with pickled pearl onions and deep-fried capers with Beaujolais Gamay (eg Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois 2018).

France

So many entries were based on French classics and French wines, but none of them came from French natives! Despite that, I’ve picked two – one southern, one more northern. Patrick McArdle (from Provence Restaurant in the Turks and Caicos Islands) offers up the deliciously fresh-sounding ‘baked crapaudine beetroot shavings, cured salmon, citrus crème fraiche. Served with Domaine Tempier 2018 Bandol rosé.

Restaurant manager Melody Wong from London’s Skylon is thinking along much richer lines: ‘2016 Pinot Gris grand cru Osterberg, Alsace, France, from Kientzler to match with roast duck breast with confit clementine and cointreau sauce. I enjoyed to pair this dish as the lovely balanced acidity of Pinot Gris cuts through the richness of the duck fat, and orange-blossom aromas with a touch of creaminess match the confit clementine and cointreau sauce and creates a lighter pairing and lets the Pinot Gris shine!'

Greece

Greek souvlaki with Assyrtiko (wine from Santorini). The acidity and citrusy notes in the Assyrtiko from Santorini are ideal matched with the most traditional Greek dish. A lemon-herb marinade and the homemade pita bread with grilled pork, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki makes an excellent choice with Santorini wine.’ A classic Greek pairing well explained from Sakis Chalvantzis in Athens.

Vasiliki Galani from Athens’ Materia Prima Wine Bistro keeps it terse: ‘Food: taramosalata. Wine: retsina.’ A good point well made.

Yannis Athanasakopoulos from Fabrica tou Efrosinou in Kalamata suggested a dish I got addicted to on my recent trip to Greece: ‘Traditional Greek fasolada (the basic recipe is boiled beans with celery, tomato sauce, carrots and lemon juice on top, just to give you an idea) pairing unexpectedly well with German Riesling.’ I suspect some Greek whites would go well with that as well.

Hong Kong

I had to Google this. It conjured up the strangest image in my head. ‘Hairy crab roll with deep fried rice cake pairing with Domaine de Lahaye Savagnin Côtes du Jura 2016. Hairy crab roll is a famous seasonal dish in winter and that is very good to pair with oxidative white wine to highlight the umani.’ Thank you, sommelier Nico Tam, somewhere in Hong Kong Central.

Hungary

The Hungarians are a patriotic lot. We received many traditional pairings: several goulash-and-Kadarka combinations, as you might expect. I liked the slightly different halászlé suggestion sent in by Szabolcs Ignátkó (Onyx, Budapest): ‘I would recommend a nice local red grape from Hungary, the Kadarka, matching with fish soup that is based on paprika powder.’ The spicy traditional soup and the gentleness of Kadarka would pair very well indeed.

But I’m also giving space to Angela Peters from Sava’s in Michigan because her offering was very Hungarian and very delicious: ‘Royal Tokaji 6 Puttonyos 2010 and Túrógombóc, a traditional Hungarian dessert of farmer's cheese dumplings filled with apricot jam, poached in lots of spices and citrus, and rolled in warm, toasted, buttery breadcrumbs.’ Yum.

India

Indu Boya wrote in from Tonique, Bangalore, with an uncomplicated but sound suggestion: ‘Chicken sukha (a fresh coconut-based spicy dish) with a Torrontés.’ Likewise, Nikhil Surve from Mumbai: ‘mutton biryani with a Merlot blend'.

I’m also including an outsider’s perspective – Tucker Hurley, New York, Momofuku Noodle Bar – because it’s based on experience and is so very thoughtful.

‘During a recent vacation to India I had the opportunity to taste some Indian wine. I tasted a Sauvignon Blanc, along with a champagne-method sparkler made with a Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend. Because I was attending a vegetarian wedding it offered the unique combination of traditional Indian cuisine with French varietals. To that end – I will offer the humble suggestion of pairing your next Sauvignon Blanc with saag paneer. The creamy and rich spinach and cheese based dish often carries a heavy dose of fragrant herbs and spices, which can stand up well enough to the crisp floral nature of a Loire Valley Sancerre, or even a Marlborough, New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc.' 

Indonesia

Nyoman Alit Susila Putra from Desa Potato Head in Bali offers something unique. ‘I would like to introduce traditional classic Balinese cuisine with one local wine. I will pair babi guling (roast suckling pig with thousand spices) with local red wine made by Alphonso Lavalle grape variety. The wine is light, fruity and has soft tannin which will go perfectly with richness of pork meat, and the fruitiness of wine will be complement thousand spice in the pork.’ Makes me want to go stay at Desa Potato Head!

Israel

‘Well, I do believe that hummus can go really well with Ribolla Gialla’, declares Omer Dayan from Pastel in Tel Aviv. I believe you too! I might even order some RG and test it out!

Italy

We were swamped with Italian food and wine pairings, from people of all nations and locations. Many, many, many Barolo and truffles; many risotto combinations; many a pasta. I chose the first three below for their exquisite simplicity (and, funnily enough, I’ve only just realised they are all sparkling wines – not deliberate) and the last one, from a non-Italian, Seattle-based server at Cafe Juanita, for its wonderfully evocative writing.

Piadina (traditional flat bread from Romagna in Italy) and Lambrusco!’, writes Giulia Tognini, of London’s Prawn on the Lawn restaurant. ‘Broad beans and Pecorino cheese with Metodo Classico Sparkling Tenuta Montiano’, writes in Gennaro Buono from Rome, corporate sommelier at Manfredi Fine Hotels Collection. ‘Sparkling Durello (typical grape of Veneto region) and sopressa (a kind of Venetian salami)’, says sous chef Irene Vigolo of Ave Maria Barge in Vicenza.

Rita DiTondo takes us to Sicily in a heartbeat:

‘I was in Sicily last October and was delighted to discover, by pure chance, the delights of Frappato paired with roasted chestnuts. In Siracusa we stumbled upon a small wine shop tucked into a side narrow side street. The owner made a few recommendations and we stocked the apartment for the holiday week. One evening as we drove through the small, seaside town of Avola, we came across a truck roasting chestnuts on the side of the road. My husband and I love fresh, roasted chestnuts and eagerly await the fall to enjoy them, so we made a quick u-turn and bought a bag to take back to the apartment. The warm, nuttiness paired with the round fruit and earth of the Lamoresca Nerocapitano on our Sicilian terrace was the perfect fall aperitivo! A delightful discovery and a must try.’

Japan

Plenty of sushi matches (especially from our American hospos) and some ‘westernised’ takes on Japanese food, but I’ve gone with these two suggestions from Japanese natives. ‘Okonomiyaki (Japanese Osaka special) with full bodied ripe red like from the south of France or Chianti. Also good with new world Merlot’, from Nana Enokida, Green Café, Tokyo.

Chūtoro sushi with 2011 left bank Bordeaux’ is the unusual combination suggested by Yoshiyuki Toh Yokohama, from the Kahala Hotel in Yokohama.

Kazakhstan

Something deeply Kazakh from Anastassiya Naumetskaya in Almaty: ‘Beshbarmak, it's a national Kazakh dish (different parts of horse meat and lamb with dough and potatoes), and Kazakh Riesling Arba Wine 2014’. Anyone argue with that?

Korea

‘Desperate times call for desperate measures! My food/wine pairing is inspired by the COVID industry lockdown and things to do when stir crazy. I streamed the award-winning "Parasite" and when lockdown mode officially began in NYC, I immediately thawed out my last bone-in ribeye from WF and went to my well stocked Korean pantry. Ram-Don with Brown Butter Ribeye and 2001 Cocito Barbaresco. A joint venture between Ezio Cocito and Giorgio Rivetti (of my favourite La Spinetta), the power of the second vintage of this small production Barbaresco was clearly beginning to show; either that, or my lockdown mentality made it seem even more enjoyable than the first time I opened the same bottle. We were sitting around the "PDR" or private dining table (Table 69) at my first restaurant employer's place in Sunny Isles Beach, FL after the shift on a colleague's final night when the owner graciously asked him to choose two of his favourite bottles and share them with the team. He could've clearly taken advantage of the opportunity as the owner had some amazing bottles in the restaurant's 288-bottle list, but my buddy Nick chose a 2001 Cocito Barbaresco Baluchin and a 2005 Clos Erasmus Laurel. Both Piedmont and Priorat resonate with me to this day because of that one time experience with that team and that moment, but the owner's generosity is something that I always think about, especially when the community comes together during times like this, just like Jancis is doing with this opportunity. As a Korean, I happen to follow the original Jjapaguri recipe, calling for a bit more heat levels than the ones you will find online these days. With the depth and umami of the Chapaghetti sauce enveloping the spicy seafood nuances of the Neoguri, along with the nuttiness and texture provided by the ribeye, the 2001 Cocito Barbaresco is really up to the task of elongating what is normally consumed as a quick snack. With the tannins gracefully following through with the gorgeous texture of the wine, the vibrancy of this 19-year-old bottle is bringing back all the memories of that night and why I fell in love with wine in the first place. Food and wine pairings will always be a great debate, but to me, the best pairings will always be those that bring you back to that special place, allowing you to revisit some of your favorites with a new group of special people, or yourself during lockdown periods! Salud!’

You have to have a hard heart to not love this, from Timothy Woo Cho of Jungsik, New York.

Latvia

I can just imagine this working beautifully: ‘Pickled herring with boiled potatoes and cottage cheese with Smaragd Gruner Veltliner (two or three years old depending on producer).’ From Janis Kalkis, Moltto Wine & Grill, Riga.

Lebanon

Not a Lebanese somm or wine, but it’s a delicious suggestion all the same: ‘Fatteh (salad of eggplant, chickpeas, cashews, yoghurt and brown butter) with Tiberio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.’ Jay Chadwick, Philadelphia, Suraya sommelier.

Mexico

Mexican food is a favourite with all the hospos but I took these two from Mexico itself.

‘Suggested pairing: Chardonnay from Penedès and Mexican guacamole and nachos. The wine should have a nice acidity and structured body that will complement the character of guacamole. A natural ingredient we Mexicans like to put in the avocado, along with some olive oil drops, the onion, coriander and tomato, is a whole green lime, so this pairing will be matched in the acid side.’ I’d never have thought of Spanish Chardonnay with guacamole, so thank you, Aline Urbán of Merciparis in Guadalajara.

Marcos Flores from Tlalpan goes with something more unusual: mole poblano with blanc de blancs champagne. That’s some seriously complex heat, spice and depth. Perhaps champagne is the only wine that could cope!

New Zealand

Love this love match from Lily Mosolino in Havelock North, working at Craggy Range Restaurant: 2019 Gimblett Gravels rosé and wild venison tartare. Also from Craggy Range Restaurant is William Baylia, who describes a delicious dish. ‘Hawke's Bay-caught pan-fried John Dory fillets (skin on), romesco sauce, house-made mixed herb oil, fresh cherry tomatoes, agria potatoes, fresh almond nuts. Enjoyed with a glass of 2017 Craggy Range Les Beaux Cailloux (Simon Nash enjoyed this with his wife and their daughter for her 21st birthday with us recently).’

And because it’s New Zealand we have to have lamb… Traditional, from Jake Handley on the cellar door of Babich: ‘Roasted medium New Zealand rack of lamb on creamy truffle rosemary mash, honey glazed spring carrots and Prelibato aged white balsamic vinegar fresh mint sauce, matched with Babich Winemakers' Reserve Bridge Pa Triangle Hawke's Bay Syrah 2017.’

And a bit of a different take from Benjamin McManus of Jervois Rd Wine Bar in Auckland: ‘Akitu A2 Pinot Noir Mt Barker, Wanaka 2016 with New Zealand lamb merguez, confit tomato, garlic.’

Norway

The Norwegians are overwhelmingly into fusion food and other cuisines over their own traditional dishes, so my choice was based on the local beverage rather than the food. ‘Scallops, habanero, red currants and fermented green tomatoes/artichoke juice. Paired with Norwegian apple pet nat.’ Majsen Pedersen, Restaurant Hot Shop in Oslo.

Palestine

Bringing together the countries of the Middle East, ‘Iraqi sabih with Palestinian Marawi/Hamdani and Jandali wine from indigenous varieties (Cremisan) bringing together the ultimate terroir wine and anti-terroir (immigrant) food’, this from Daniel Monterescu, a sommelier and anthropologist of food and wine in.....Budapest.

Peru

‘To pair with ceviche (a typical Peruvian dish), I would recommend the Albariño variety. Albariño from Galicia, they are fresh wines with very good minerality, perfect for fresh fish and acidity.’ Helbert Wagner Reyna Iparraguirre, from Central Restaurant in Lima.

Poland

There were so many great pairings from Poland!

Polish pierogi featured twice. Once with goat’s cheese and Riesling Off Dry Sur Lie 2018 from Winnice Wzgórz Trzebnickich, Lower Silesia, Poland, thanks to Jacek Rusiecki from Restauracja Ratuszowa in Jawor. The other from Magdalena Tywoniuk working at Duke’s Wine Bar in Lausanne, with sauerkraut and mushroom in beet borscht with Kabinett Riesling.

Magdalena Śleziak writes in from Kraków, where she works at the Enoteka Pergamin, with a sparkling local match: ‘I am Polish and we love potatoes, I am a sommelier and I love sparkling wines. One of my latest favourite food and wine match was potato pancake served with trout caviar and sour cream with a glass of Polish traditional method sparkling GostArt 2018, Gostchorze Winery, made with Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc grapes.’

Portugal

‘I'll go for something typical from the Portugal rather than the obvious fine dining dishes. [We like that!] Grilled sardines and clarete from Bairrada’, declares Joana Reis from Avenida Restaurante in Lagos.

Equally traditional is Francisco Sá Pessoa’s contribution. ‘Feijoada à Transmontana (traditional bean and pork stew with kale cabbage, pork stock and different types of pork sausages, including Chouriço, Farinheira e Morcela) with Quinta do Crasto, Vinha Maria Teresa 2013 from the Douro Valley, intense and complex red, from the 100 year-old Maria Teresa vines, with enough power to balance the intensity of the feijoada.’

Romania

Sarmale and the perfect match in my opinion is Rezerva 2016 from Aramic Winery which is a blend of Fetească Neagră and Cabernet Sauvignon (60%/40%) aged in new barrels 14 months. Cheers!’ That from Bogdan Olteanu at Merlot Restaurant in Timișoara.

Russia

There had to be one: ‘Black caviar and champagne’, Alexander Smirnoff, Moscow, Da!wine.

But everyone else keeps it humble. Paul Horseman, doing wine education in Moscow, has a highly unusual suggestion: Pelmeni (Russian dish) with meat and Sauternes. I hadn’t believed in it before tried it myself!’ Svetlana Velikanova, also from Moscow (Drinx Wine Bar), goes for another unusual match of ‘buckwheat cakes with blackcurrant jam and Ribera del Duero DO Diaz Bayo, 8 Meses Barrica Nuestro’. And Anatolii Iakovinenko from Seabourn in St Petersburg suggests ‘Pork feet meat jello with horseradish and slightly oaky Toscano Chardonnay.’

Scotland

Martha Cleary might live in Toronto and manage an Irish pub, but she’s married to a Scotsman and loves haggis so she is brave enough to earn a place under the Scotland section. ‘Living with a Scottish man, a dish I have learnt to love is the sometimes scary haggis. Full of flavour made of meat and oats with a blend of spices and a strong peppery kick. It's always delicious paired with a full bodied red (may sound strange as it would traditionally be seen as a pub meal washed down with a beer). It's a rich dish which matches up perfectly with the bold flavour of a nice Syrah or Rioja.’

Serbia

‘Pljeskavica (Serbian burger) with ajvar (made of paprika) with Prokupac (Serbian grape variety) from vinary Yotta from Župa region. They made a wine from 100-year-old vines.’ Nemanja Papic of Iris New Balkan Cuisine in Belgrade offers this very interesting local pairing. Another sommelier from Belgrade, Aleksandar Petrovic of Vinoteka Beograd, also keeps it on his doorstep: ‘Gibanica and sparkling wine from indigenous variety Smederevka.’

Singapore

Lots of combinations came in from Singapore with Alsace wines and German Riesling. Joel Lim of Park90 gets very specific: ‘1991 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl with local chicken satay (grilled skewer marinated with lemongrass, turmeric and various spices)'. Amanda Han of Fordham and Grand keeps the wine a bit more flexible: ‘A Gewurztraminer with our local dish, Hokkien Mee!’

South Africa

Afval curry [afval means offal in Afrikaans and is a traditional potjie] and Shiraz Tinotenda’, is the only South African suggestion from Tinotenda Michael Madzunguruse, sommelier at the Muratie Farm Kitchen in Stellenbosch.

Spain

‘In the spirit of all that is Spain’, writes Ryan Taylor of Spain De Vinos Wine Bar is Madrid, ‘the aromatic white variety called Treixadura of DO Ribeiro in Galicia is exquisite with seared Piquillo Peppers stuffed with Tetilla cheese. The crisp, mineral-driven white cuts beautifully through the richness of the cheese and even offers a complement to the flavour of the peppers – a toast to both being from the earth!’

Ajo blanco cold soup with samphire, aloe vera jelly and marinated mackerel with Fino Linea Antique Fernando de Castilla’ is the pairing from Giorgia Scaramella at Marc Fosh in Palma de Mallorca.

Switzerland

It can only be… ‘Swiss fondue “Moitié-Moitié” with a Fendant from Valais, Cave des Amandiers 2018’, from Mikael Grou in Geneva, Hotel Beau-Rivage.

Thailand

Perhaps it’ a sign of the times that the best Thai entry was comforting rather than fiery. ‘As we have been confined to our home most of the time in Bangkok, I would like to offer classic homely Thai food–wine pairing. Thai wok-fried egg omelette with Alsatian Pinot Gris. Thai omelette is usually made with some fish sauce or soy sauce as well as chopped onion and/or minced pork or crab meat. Alsatian Pinot Gris complements it well with nice fleshy body but also good dose of fruit and acid structure to cut the greasiness of the omelette. Works every time 😊.’ It sounds like exactly what I want to make for supper – thank you, Narun Popattanachai from Bangkok, who runs Thailand Wine, a tasting-event company for young professionals.

Ukraine

‘Champagne and Ukrainian salo 😊’, beams Tanya Bolsh from Kiev. Check my notes at the top if you can’t remember what salo is…

United States

There were so many entries here that it made me realise that it’s almost impossible to decide on what ‘American cuisine’ is on a national level – apart from fast food. But some states have more well-defined cuisines than others, so I’ve tried to pick out a couple of the good ones.

‘As a New Orleanian, I've got to make a pairing with a local dish, so this is one of my favourites. Seafood gumbo (shrimp, crawfish, oysters) with a Sancerre. The acid helps to cut through the dark roux and the heaviness of the gumbo while adding some minerality and pyrazines. Even more appropriately, the original Orleans is just up the river!’ Liam Wedderburn, New Orleans, Commander's Palace.

Krista Spence from Idaho writes,

‘There are so many, it's difficult to pick just one! In light of our current situation though, I crave comfort food. I want to cook it, eat it, rub it all over my face, bath in it! ;) In honour of the closest wine region to me and one that I'm most passionate about I'm going with Cougar Gold Mac & cheese with a Washington State Grenache. Cougar Gold cheese is made at Washington State University's creamery. They make many different styles of cheese, but I love Cougar Gold (the Cougar is the school's mascot!), it's a creamy, tangy, smooth white cheddar. The wine I like pair it with is the 2016 Latta Wines Grenache Freewater Rocks Vineyard. The vineyard is in the Rocks District AVA in Walla Walla, Washington. It's rich, luscious, and hedonistic with loads of dark red fruit that tastes magical with the rich, creamy Mac & cheese! Cheers to your team from the Pacific Northwest! I wish you good health and peace during the difficult and scary time.’

Venezuela

I’ve made these before and they are delicious. But you need a special type of corn meal for them. ‘Arepa Reina Pepiada, a Venezuelan typical dish, in which the arepa (corn bread) is filled with a mixture of avocado, chicken, mayonnaise, and other ingredients. It perfectly matches with a brut sparkling wine, either white or rosé.’ Elizabeth Yabrudy from Caracas, the Celicor Boutique wine advisor.