Dines Out: Wines of Portugal
In amongst my trips out to dine I attend the occasional wine tasting too, yes I know, my life is blessed. This time it was down to Hove and the excellent Fourth & Church, a fabulous blend of great foods and wine to eat in or to take home.
The wine element of the evening was being co-ordinated by none other than Henry Butler and the six wines presented by two excellent and entertaining Portuguese wine makers from wine estates Soalheiro and Raza. The format of the evening was simple enough, each wine being matched to a delicious dish created in the Fourth & Church kitchens.
Well I say each being matched with a dish but for the first wine, Raza 2016, there were three very generous crostini. The first a tapenade with goats cheese that matched the fresh and slightly sparkling wine brilliantly, then morcilla and broad bean with mint, again a great and this time deeper flavoured match and finally skordelia with capers showing how well the wine would work with creamy fish and sharp capers.
The next wine Raza Arinto 2014 was served with my favourite dish of the evening, gurnard with mussels in a coconut milk sauce with Goan spices. Goa and Portugal are linked so strongly that this seemed an ideal idea and in execution it proved to be just that, gentle spicing, full flavoured fish and a wine that lived up to both.
The wines were demanding of great invention
Next Soalheiro Terra Matter 2015, an interesting wine, delicious but unfamiliar was paired with mackerel, tomato and salsa verde, a robust combination but one that was certainly needed for this most interesting of wines. I loved both but could see that the wine would certainly not be to everyone’s taste.
Raza Vinho 2015 next and with it duck confit croquette with spiced plum and fennel salad. The kitchen was being very inventive and rightly so as the wines were demanding of great invention. This was stunning, truly a match made in heaven with the rich duck balanced by the sharp plum and the aniseed fragrance of the fennel.
Finally we drank Soalheiro Opacco and to balance this lamb koftes with aubergine pickle and tzatziki. Now I love lamb but I love aubergine even more these days, I cannot get enough. This classic combo was right up my street and I was delighted when offered a second plate. Which leads me to say that the food was served in generous portions, small plates rather than canapes, and the same for the wines, no sip, swirl and spit nonsense, no far from it. We were all there to enjoy drinking great wines, eating tasty food and going home feeling entertained and satisfied.