Expect the Unexpected- lmbibe - May-June 2014

California's USP, its old-vine Zinfandel, has also found ingenious but actually very fitting pairings. Anderson suggested 'steak and kidney pudding with a suet crust, its earthiness is wonderful with Zin.' Periner at the Wheatsheaf lnn thinks Zinfandel is a winner with Beef Wellington; while Giancarlo Cuccuru, assistant manager at Gilbert Scott, even prefers Zin to Cabernet for beef when it comes to richer sauces. 'We have the elegant Nalle Zinfandel,' he says. 'Our flank steak with bacon and mushroom sauce needs a wine with a certain amount of body and juice and Nalle just carries it wonderfully.' Chhetri of the Bread Street Kitchen agrees: 'l have old vine Seghesio Zinfandel and always pair that with lamb shanks braised with cinnamon and cardamom with pesto and garlic on top,'While the red meat theme may be very strong with Zinfandel, depending on the style of the wine almost juxtaposing combinations can be made. Le Pont de La Tour's Merigaud is not afraid to forge new paths: 'l like Zinfandel's fruitiness, it even marries with stronger fish flavours: I am thinking grilled cod with red wine risotto and wild garlic veloute. Zinfandel is both fruity and tannic, doesn't overpower the garlic and makes the cod more tasty.'At Dabbous, Pashby-Taylor also uses Zinfandel to great effect. 'l have the Nalle Zinfandel,' he says. 'Our restaurant is hard to get into, the cuisine is different and people are therefore more willing to try a different wine as well. We have roast goose, with [sweet] birch sap, with white miso, salsify and roast cavolo nero - quite a complex and sweet dish, you don't want to lose that. You want something linear and this precise Zin is a good choice.'Asian vibes work, too: Diana Rollan, assistant wine buyer at Hakkasan, said: 'Ridge's Lytton Springs Zinfandel works really well with stir-fry venison, water chestnut and Thai celery. The rich, savoury, muscular character supports the intense meaty character of the venison.'

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