The other day, whilst waiting for a train to London, I popped into the station’s newsagents and bought a music magazine with a young Morrissey on the cover. Boldly proclaiming to tell the truth about the making of The Smiths 1985 album Meat is Murder, the magazine’s strap line promised, “Violence! Oppression! Sausages!”
After reading the, in truth, not terribly violent, oppressive or sausage laden article, my mind drifted back in time to 1985 and myself as a 17 year old Smiths fan. Normally, I’m not big on nostalgia and I rarely spend much time thinking about past events. So, it wasn’t until I was half way to London that I, finally, and fondly, realised that I’d actually been given the Meat is Murder LP, by my then girlfriend, on Valentine’s Day 30 years ago.
So today, to mark the album’s anniversary, I thought, despite not being a vegetarian, I’d share some of my favourite wine and meat free matches. For those who are interested, all the veggie dishes are from the cookbooks of Yotam Ottolenghi and they are, I think you’ll agree, considerably more exciting than The Smiths diet of 1985, which consisted, according to those who were there, mainly of chocolate and crisps.
Pehhcora Pecorino (£ 8.99) and Soba noodles with aubergine and mango Not to be confused with the famous cheese, the Pecorino grape variety is so named because, according to local legend, sheep (called pecora in Italy) would feast on grapes whilst ambling through the vineyards.
The Pehhcora Pecorino comes from the province of Chieti, in the Abruzzo region of central Italy, and, seemingly, if the wine’s endearing label is to be believed, Italian sheep eschew the British ‘baah’ and prefer instead to ‘pehh.’
Pehhcora is a refreshing, crisp white wine with sweet ripe fruit flavours of peach, mango, warm spice and a long lasting mineral finish. As well as with the soba noodles, it also pairs very well with grilled white fish.
False Bay Wild Yeast Chenin Blanc (£ 7.25) with Chickpeas and spinach with honeyed sweet potato
It may sound like carbohydrate overkill, but the soft, warm sweet potatoes almost melt over the chickpeas and a velvety smooth yoghurt sauce beautifully lifts and lightens.
Pair this rich and moreish comfort food dish with the herbaceous and honeyed False Bay Wild Yeast Chenin Blanc and, believe me, you’ll feel the love.
Artesa Organic Rioja (£ 8.50) with Multi-vegetable paella
I adore paella and can honestly say, as a keen meat eater, that Ottolenghi’s vegetable version will find favour with even the most committed of carnivores. The dish is imbued with just the right balance of freshness and spice and it works wonderfully well with the Artesa Organic Rioja.
The wine is a beautiful combination of juicy bramble fruit, fresh redcurrant, cherry, black pepper and lifted herbal notes – a classic, well integrated Rioja.
Aliança Bairrada Reserva, Caves Alianca (£ 7.50) with Chacouka
Chacouka is a hearty and spicy North African pepper and tomato stew that’s topped with baked eggs. It makes for a lovely, lazy supper and works best with a relatively rustic and inexpensive red.
The Aliança Bairrada Reserva comes from the Bairrrada region of Portugal, approximately 75 miles to the south of Porto. Its winemaker, Francisco Antunes, fashions the wine from 3 indigenous grape varieties – Baga, Tinto Roriz and Touriga Nacioncal – to create a red that’s medium bodied with flavours of plums, ripe berries and warm spice.
Impressively, and highly unusually for a modestly priced wine, it was recently chosen as one of the 50 Great Portuguese Wines by wine journalist and television presenter, Ollie Smith.