Defying its simplicity, the recipe for Baked Mackerel served with a Rhubarb sauce or compote, produces a delicious main course. Rhubarb is now in season, mackerel plentiful and cheap (at least here in the UK) coupled with the use of home grown cider in the sauce and served with the first crop of Jersey Royal potatoes the combination is local and seasonal.
In retrospect it was probably not the best choice of dish to kick off Combinations – my little idea to examine food and wine matching. I didn’t consider that sourcing the ingredients would be next to impossible in San Francisco or Ohio. Fine in Edinburgh and Henley but not elsewhere. Benito substituted trout for the mackerel and picked a Chardonnay-Sauvignon-Semillon blend as the wine accompaniment. “It matched well with the fish–the forward fruit and balanced acidity provided a counter to the sometimes fatty fish, and yet it complemented the sweet rhubarb sauce going along.”
After the initial announcement I tried the dish with a Greek white. An unusual grape variety, a lowly price and a hand scrawled shelf-barker proclaiming, as they so often do, as ‘great with fish’. It wasn’t. Last night, re-trying the recipe with a different wine choice was much more successful; a Sauvignon Blanc but from Australia rather than my usual choice of New Zealand.
Wine Tasting Note: Katnook Founder’s Block Sauvignon Blanc, 2004, Coonawarra, Australia. Purchased from Oddbins for £7.99.
While the Chimney Creek Sauvignon, mentioned a few days ago, was vibrant, punchy and full of gooseberry fruit this Sauvignon is more subdued and rounded. Flavours are more straw-like and minerally. Herbs too with a dash of sherbet on the finish. With the food it was a great match. The high acidity matching that in the sauce and, at the same time, revealing more fruit notes in the wines flavour. Being white the wine was good with the fish too, with the acidity again playing a role in cutting throught the oiliness of the fish while the light herb touch from the bay leaves complimenting the wines herb edge.