Hospo pairings – the winners

Headshots of the winners of the JancisRobinson.com hospo pairings competition

As promised, we now spell out who wins six beautiful wine glasses and a year's membership of our Purple Pages. See also Hospo pairings – very nearly the best with its details of how the winners were chosen, and 61 more suggestions that were almost as deserving as the 10 below. See too our guide to the entire glorious series. Very many thanks to all those who participated.

Jancis writes As Tam spells out so eloquently in Hospo pairings – very nearly the best, also published today, we have been absolutely amazed by both the quantity and quality of responses to our offer of complimentary membership of Purple Pages to those in the hospitality industry laid off thanks to this scary pandemic. I should thank explicitly our London restaurateur son Will Lander, who had the idea in the first place. All we asked of applicants was that they suggested a favourite food and wine match.

It was notable that a very high proportion of the best came from the United States, perhaps because the art of pairing is particularly celebrated and well developed there. So it is perhaps not surprising that half of our favourite pairings came from the US, even if at least one of those offering them is actually Mexican.

The suggestions came from all over the world. An early applicant was even based in a hill station in India, though heaven knows how he got his hands on wine there. We were surprised how relatively few came from France, but perhaps that was a language thing. And I was surprised to see that the pairings sent from the UK were particularly strong on matches for sweet things, profiled last Thursday. A scroll through all eight of the themed collections listed in our guide provides an amazing snapshot of where food and cuisine are in various different countries today – not to mention the sort of wines that are most popular with professionals. I strongly urge you to enjoy this inspiring resource and we humbly thank everyone who sent in a suggestion.

So high was the standard that instead of choosing a single winner, as we initially suggested we would, we have greedily chosen 10, five in the US and five elsewhere. They will each be receiving six of my lovely wine glasses, thanks to our distributors Skurnik in the US, Cellarhand in Australia, and my colleague in this exciting enterprise, designer Richard Brendon, everywhere else. We will also arrange for a 12-month extension of their complimentary membership of our Purple Pages. Note, by the way, how well those few who suggested rosés did, and that food didn't have to be grand to tickle our collective fancy.

So ... drumroll please!  First the names and locations, and then their inspiring suggestions commented on, inimitably, by Tam – presented in roughly menu order.

Winners from the US

Sonia Vidal from High Treason in San Francisco

Nicholas Daddona from Boston Urban Hospitality

Alvaro Mondaca of Gramercy Tavern in New York

José Carlos Delgado from Mourad, San Francisco

Andy Wood from Comfort in Indiana

Winners from elsewhere

Stephanie Jacob of Marion in Melbourne

Kamil Świerczyński of Malmaison Hotel in Warsaw

Ian Casterton from Botanist in Vancouver

Elena-Diana Gheorghinete of Vesna Lounge in Banksa Stiavnica, Slovakia

Lorenzo Mancusi from Il Pagliaccio in Rome. 

Winning pairings from the US

Sonia Vidal of High Treason, San Francisco

From High Treason in San Francisco, Sonia Vidal (who hails from Mexico) sends in her poetic vote for a classic Cali Grenache pink with a less-than-classic pairing:

Tessier, Femme Fatale El Dorado Grenache rosé with a street snack from India called sundal: warm garbanzos, mustard seeds, shredded coconut, curry leaves, unripe mango with a touch of asafoetida powder. A delicious, affordable and tasteful pairing that will magically transport you to an island with summer breeze, a kiss of the sunlight, warm and white sand embracing your toes and musical waves from the ocean. Ha, sorry, I just got transported with this quarantine (I'm from Mexico). Anyway, this is a beautiful pairing that brings the best of both worlds, rose petal notes, hibiscus and watermelon flavors with tropical flavors and a slightly spiced street snack. Such a fun and unusual pair!’

Anyone else suddenly hungry and scurrying for the rosé and a tin of chick peas?


Nick Daddona and lobster in Boston

Nicholas Daddona from Boston Urban Hospitality writes with passion about Condrieu.

Condrieu (Vernay, Coteaux du Vernay). Langoustine with cream and herbs. It is my belief that Condrieu is one of the most under-appreciated classic wines of France. In the world of pairings, there are many possibilities and pairing methodologies. Many of these pairings revolve around acid. I believe that there is an oversight: some pairings can move from the appreciated to the realm of magical by matching the texture of wine to the cuisine. White wines of the Rhône have been overlooked by some for their high texture and lower acidity. The texture these wines brings is a useful tool in the arsenal of food and wine pairing. Texture clears in the back of the palate in such a way that it can pair wonderfully with more full-bodied cuisine. Indeed, there has been many a guest who relishes having a full-bodied wine with few or no oak tones! Condrieu is extremely aromatic, as well as full bodied. This floral nature can elevate Asian dishes and curries, as well as bring out more delicate seafood flavors in full-bodied dishes. One of my favorites is langoustine recipes with a bit of cream and herbs. The weight of the Viognier clears the palate, as well as elevating the luxury of the cream and delicacy of the shellfish. This is a wonderful example of the dish, or, for the New England-er in me, a lobster casserole would be my choice for a bottle of Condrieu anytime.’


Alvaro Mondaca of Gramercy Tavern, NYC

And then we got the most incredible in-depth pairing guide from Alvaro Mondaca, the sommelier of Gramercy Tavern in New York. He should write a book. His entry alone was two pages long and was full of wisdom and ideas. I’m honing it down to the rosé pairings, which I liked because they were a little different from the herd:

‘Hi there lovely people, thank you for your kindness offering us access to this unique source of information! my suggestions are based on my experience working at Gramercy Tavern, NYC and the Master I work with … Salmon, Arctic char: The best companion for this fatty rich fish would be a wine with high acidity content like rosé champagne from the same region, a nice Rosé des Riceys, a Nebbiolo rosé or a cellar temperature bottle of Tavel from the Rhône Valley … I hope this piece of information will be, somehow, useful, I got a dozen more pairings I could share with you, however, I know you have a hundreds of other Sommeliers that have to be revised as well! AGAIN THANK YOU JANCIS AND TEAM FOR MAKING THIS TROUBLED TIME WAY MORE BEARABLE! Yours, ALVARO MONDACA.’

Olivier Humbrecht and José Carlos Delgado of Mourad, San Francisco

There were many rioja pairings, but few people took the time to explain why it mattered and few went with an unusual angle, such as José Carlos Delgado from Mourad, San Francisco, seen here with Olivier Humbrecht MW clutching a bottle of his Zind-Humbrecht wine from Alsace.

‘One of my personal favorite food and wine pairings is Gran Reserva Rioja (of the traditional style – eg López de Heredia, CVNE, La Rioja Alta) with a rich seafood paella. Both are ‘umami bombs’ simultaneously showing high levels of savoriness and a delicate nature.  Few wines in the world are as versatile as rioja grand reservas. Where other (more common)  flavor profiles like fruity sweetness, or high acid, would overpower the delicateness of, say, scallops or mussels, aged rioja would be delicate enough and savory, more so than fruity or acidic, to complement the shellfish; a pairing of like-with-like, I suppose. Thank you very much for this generous gesture in providing study material during this difficult time. I appreciate it tremendously and will use it wholeheartedly.  Be well.’

Andy Wood of Comfort, Indiana

Still in Piemonte, still with Nebbiolo, Andy Wood from Comfort in Indiana dives for the truffle classic, giving us lockdown tips in the process…

‘Cast-iron crispy halved Yukon Gold Potatoes, with chive, cracked red peppercorn and shaved truffles (definitely a difficult find in Southern Indiana under quarantine, so I supplement with black truffle salt) finished with Isole e Olena olive oil drizzle. Serve with a traditionally produced Barolo Classico, specifically Oddero Barolo 2011. The generosity and warmth of 2011 combined with the classic style of Oddero's winemaking pair perfectly with the rich and earthy flavors of the dish. As well as the structure of the Nebbiolo works perfectly with the texture of the crispy potatoes. A simple dish, but it allows for the flavors of both wine and food to shine. Cheers!’

Winning pairings from elsewhere

Stephanie Jacob of Marion, Melbourne

Stephanie Jacob of Marion in Melbourne headed north to the Loire. So exquisitely simply. So yummy. Oof, indeed. I like the way you think, Ms Jacob. ‘Anjou rosé (eg Boudignon) + tomato carpaccio, doused in olive oil salt and black pepper, basil if you have it. Crusty bread. The herbaceous character of Cab F is lifted, acidity of both food and wine marry, and the sweetness of ripe tomato with green and fresh olive oil, some crusty bread, slight lees texture of the wine whilst still crisp and tart - oof.’

Kamil Świerczyński of Malmaison Hotel in Warsaw

Jancis recently made Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc one of her lockdown whites, and Kamil Świerczyński of Malmaison Hotel in Warsaw could not agree more fervently.

Tuna tataki marinated in oriental spices with fennel salad and passion fruit creamy sauce – intensive taste of tuna filled by spices is giving powerful bomb of taste, sour passion fruit and aromatic salad are making this dish juicy and umami taste – Perfection! I love to match this course with simply, delicious S. Blanc produced by the legend: Dog Point winery from 2018 year. Pronounced green apple, pear, grass, lime zest aromas and wet stones character is showing complexity nose compare by crispy, juicy and "mineral" structure of wine – extra salty flavour. Finally this fusion is giving a lot of pleasure. Juicy character of wine combines passion fruit sauce, high aromas coming from fennel salad contrast pronounced fruity and salty wine personality. And now main part as a oriental tuna – fleshy, extractive wine and this same type of wine – two simply words: GASTRONOMIC ORGASMUS! Really sorry if you feel bad about it, but for me is really hard to find better wording. I wish you to try this match and I’m giving to all of you in editorial office PEACE and LOVE for that really heavy time around the world. With regards.’

His entry was so full of passion that I half wanted to hug him and half wanted to spend some silly money ordering Dog Point Sauvignon and sashimi-grade tuna online immediately.


Ian Casterton of Botanist in Vancouver in Jerez

Ian Casterton from Botanist in Vancouver, seen above on a trip to Jerez, writes with so much feeling and intensity that you know it would be impossible to resist any suggestion he made from his wine list.

‘Botanist celebrates the culinary abundance of the Pacific North-West. Chef Hector Laguna conveys the sea at the doorstep through the plethora of organic farmers in our backyard.
The dish: Textures of sunchokes, lardo, XO sauce, and pan-seared scallops
The wine: Domaine Guiberteau, Saumur Blanc Brézé, Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France, 2016
This pairing is about mouthfeel. The sunchokes are prepared in 7 different ways providing a textural playground whereas the lardo and scallops provide a backdrop of generous umami. If there was a wine that could match the intensity and complexity of this dish while still providing freshness to the palate it is Guiberteau's Brézé. It has a bountiful bouquet of lemon peels, white flowers, with ample salinity. This wine truly gives an ethereal experience, as our sense of touch becomes just as vital to the enjoyment of the wine as our smell and taste. As a pairing, these two evolve at every bite/sip. The bright acidity cuts through the unctuousness of the lardo while the oak gives a generous weight across the palate to match the scallops in full. I invite you to come join us when all this is over to try it for yourself. I promise you will not be disappointed.’

I agree!

Elena-Diana Gheorghinete of Slovakia

Elena-Diana Gheorghinete of Slovakia really won me over with her startling, brave and very persuasive pairing:

‘One of the best food and wine matches I found while I was working in Scotland, in Gleneagles Hotel. Every night we had a roast trolley available for our guests and Thursday was the stuffed saddle of lamb with mint jus. I never really liked the fatty lamb, but the stuffing which was boiled carrot, spinach and mint made me change my mind. I was always looking for out -of-the-box pairings, and my mind blew apart when I tried the dish with Dafni from Crete, produced by Lyrarakis family. Dafni is an almost extinct grape variety which is coming back to the spotlight and is actually something unique in terms of aromas and flavors. For me, even if it is a light white wine, it has enough body and texture to cut through the lamb meat, the acidity is like a knife ready to ''slice'' the fatty cover of our roulade. The primary aromas are very herbaceous, the first nose you try, the first thing that jumps out to you is bay leaves, which is actually the translation of Dafni, Dafni meaning laurel leaf in Greek language. When you sip it, is like you are chewing on a big bunch of aromatic herbs: wild mint, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, on a citrus background. All this mixture of goodness, pairs equally well with the spinach, which is the green leafy element in the dish, the refreshing mouthfeel is embracing the carrot and the lamb, the mint ''dances'' with the wild minty flavors in the wine and the bay leaf aromas are coating your mouth in a tasty explosion. For all of you out there, having red with your stuffed saddle of lamb, you might change your mind after trying this one out! Cheers! :)’


Lorenzo Mancusi of Rome

And finally there was Lorenzo Mancusi from Il Pagliaccio in Rome. He was less succinct but he sent us a picture – HURRAH!!! Believe me, you need the picture to even begin to comprehend this dish. (And it’s much more monastic-looking than it sounds.) But perhaps, above all, it was not just his joy in explaining why this pairing worked, but his willingness to push cultural boundaries and open hearts and minds.

‘One of my favorite pairings comes from an experience in my restaurant: pigeon breast, persimmon and puntarella. The dish is composed of three parts: marinated pigeon breast with anchovy salt and then smoked, at the base of the breast a pigeon's liver pâté, abalone slices cooked in dashi sauce on top; fermented persimmon compote; fresh puntarella (a typical Roman vegetable). To me the perfect pairing for this dish will be a Napa Valley wine: Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. Blend of different plots in the Napa Valley floor, 90% CS with some Malbec, Petit Verdot and CF. This wine has the perfect complexity, structure and texture to support a complex dish like this. The wine’s ripe black fruits character follows the sweet notes of persimmon compote, balancing the sapidity of the abalone. The robust, perfectly integrated silky tannin helps with the succulence of the meat, strictly rare, while the French and American new oak tones enhance the spiciness used in the marinating pigeon. Some green hints in the wine complete the vegetable side of the dish and the medium plus alcohol de-greases the abalone fatness feeling. Using a California wine as pairing in a restaurant in the heart of Rome to me is also a way to share with Italian customers, often too tied to local wines, what the World of Wine can offer in terms of quality. Thank you very much for the opportunity.’

Very many congratulations to all these 10 and very many thanks to all 2,100 who contacted us.