Food, Glorious (British) Food

British Food Fortnight is in full swing and, I’d like to look at some of our classic (and some not so classic) British dishes and make a few suggestions of which wines to choose.

What is British Food Fortnight?

According to their website.

“Our aim is to encourage people to seek out British food when they are shopping or eating out and in doing so to discover the delights of the diverse and delicious food produced in Great Britain. We want to create a vibrant domestic market for British food that gives farmers and food producers the confidence to invest and develop their businesses because they will see that there is a demand for their produce.

We are dedicated to making high quality, nutritious British grown and produced food available to all sectors of our society, in particular the poorest and most vulnerable.

Hundreds of organisations – some very large, many very small - work together under our umbrella; as a result, though we are a small organisation, we punch way above our weight.”


·        Create change at grassroots level.

·        Increase engagement with British food.

·        Increase the market share of British food.

·        Increase investment in British food production.

The website has some great content and is well worth a browse (after you’ve finished here, of course). 

From great stories about their work in schools, hospitals and local communities, to an excellent Local Food Directory, which makes finding the producers on your doorstep an absolute breeze.

The recipe pages are a must visit, with mouth-watering dishes using Asparagus to Zucchini (alright, courgette, but you can see what I was trying to do!)

They also have almost 50 “Foodie Ambassadors” including Raymond Blanc, Liz Earle, Candice Brown and Chris Bavin who have chipped in with some great British recipes of their own. The Stilton Lamb Chops with Mango Salsa, by Alex Hollywood and Candice Brown’s Salmon, Prawn and Asparagus Tart will certainly be on my menu at home this weekend.

So, without further ado, let’s go.

Let’s start with a fairly obvious one.

Sunday Roast.

It depends on the meat, but with most red meat, beef, lamb and even venison (currently in season) you can’t go far wrong with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

However, let’s break it down a bit. A fruity, red Zinfandel goes very well with lamb, as does a dry Rosé, especially ones made with majority red wine grapes like Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. A good rule of thumb is, the younger, and rarer, the lamb, the lighter your wine should be.

As venison tends to be quite a bit leaner than most beef cuts, with a finer texture, it tends to favour more elegant wines such as red Burgundy, Barolo or mature Bordeaux.

Possibly everyone’s favourite Sunday roast, chicken, can take a red or a white wine so the key thing to focus on is what flavourings - or stuffing - you put with it and on the sides you serve.

If you’re cooking it simply with its own roasting juices, I’d incline towards a white (Oaked Chardonnay or white Burgundy) or light red (Pinot Noir or red Burgundy). If you’re having a spicy, or fruity, stuffing then a fruity, floral Viognier is ideal.

Riedel Cab Sauvignon / Merlot Glasses.
Riedel Zinfandel / Riesling Glasses.
Riedel Rosé / Sparkling Wine Glasses

Fish and Chips

When it comes to the beloved British classic, fish and chips, a crisp and refreshing white wine is an excellent choice. The delicate flavours of the fish and the satisfying crunch of the chips pair wonderfully with a light-bodied white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. These wines offer vibrant acidity and citrus notes that help cut through the richness of the fried batter, cleansing the palate with every sip.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is comforting and hearty and the earthy flavours and rich textures call for a wine with good acidity and medium body. A red wine like Merlot or Syrah/Shiraz works well with the meaty components of the dish, while the acidity helps balance the creaminess of the mashed potatoes.

For those who prefer white wine, a Chardonnay with moderate oakiness (not sure if that’s a real word, but you know what I mean!) can be a great choice. The wine’s buttery texture and subtle vanilla notes will complement the creamy mashed potatoes, while the acidity cuts through the richness of the meat. This combination creates a harmonious blend that is a delight.

Riedel Sauvignon Blanc Glasses
Riedel Syrah/Shiraz Glasses
Riedel Chardonnay Glasses

Ploughman’s Lunch
The Ploughman’s lunch usually consists of a selection of cheese, cold meats, pickles, and bread. This varied combination calls for a versatile wine that can complement the different flavours on the plate. A light-bodied red wine like Beaujolais or a crisp white wine such as Riesling can be excellent choices.

Fruity Beaujolais, served slightly chilled, enhances the flavours of the cold meats and pickles without overpowering the cheese. Riesling, on the other hand, offers a touch of sweetness and refreshing acidity that pairs well with the pickles and cuts through the richness of the cheese. Both options provide a delightful balance of flavours, making them ideal companions for a Ploughman’s.

Quite a few years ago, I was strolling, in the sunshine, along The Marine Parade, in Lyme Regis, Dorset, and was seduced by the menu blackboard outside (I think) The Royal Standard pub. It promised a “Delicious Local Crab Salad and a glass of cool, crisp Chablis” and was so good that I still remember it 20 years later (the fact that while we were having lunch, we were treated to a Red Arrows display over Lyme Bay, may have also had something to do with it).

But, the fact remains that British crab is one of the most delicious kinds of shellfish you can eat and the perfect foil for a crisp white wine. 

You want to be able to taste the delicate meat, so I’d suggest a classic Chablis (obviously!) or even a Montrachet, if you are pushing the boat out.

Side note: The name Montrachet always makes me smile, who thought it was a good idea to make wine from grapes grown on Scab Hill?

If your crab salad includes asparagus though, I would probably go for a Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé (or almost any Sauvignon Blanc) as the acidity and green, herby aromas that Sauvignon Blanc has in spades works wonderfully with the sulphury, bitter notes of the asparagus.

Riedel Beaujolais Glasses
Riedel Montrachet Glasses
Riedel Sancerre Glasses


French cheese is lionised all around the world, but in my (not so humble) opinion, it doesn’t hold a candle to the huge array of cheesy goodness that Britain has to offer.

Take a trip to a good cheesemonger, like Neal’s Yard Dairy at Borough Market in London and you’ll see what I mean. I don’t know if they sell all of the 750 different cheeses that are made in the UK, but it looks (and smells) like they do!

There have probably been more words written about pairing wine with cheese than with any other foodstuff. It’s a tricky one because, obviously, what will go perfectly with Stilton may overpower a mild Brie or Caerphilly.

It’s probably easier to start with the wine and go from there.

So, here’s 10 popular wines and the cheeses to pair with them

1. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux blends
 - Cheddar, Lancashire, Welsh Teifi and other hard cheeses

2. Pinot Noir
 - Brie and Tunworth (from Hampshire), the 'Best Camembert in the World!' according to Raymond Blanc.

3. Rhône and other southern French reds
 – As above, and also Double Gloucester, Stilton and Shropshire Blue.

4. Rioja
 - particularly good with sheep cheeses like Malvern or Beenleigh Blue from Devon.

5. Chianti
 – Old Winchester, Spenwood and Sussex Charmer (great name!)

6. Port
 - blue cheeses like Stilton, Blue Cheshire and Stinking Bishop.

7. Sauvignon Blanc
 - Cornish Yarg, Cheshire and Wensleydale.

8. Chardonnay
 - buttery Cheddar, Scottish Dunlop, Double Gloucester.

9. Pinot Grigio
 – mild Cheddar, Cheshire and Buffalicious (a British mozzarella made in Somerset).

10. Champagne and other sparkling wine
 – Pretty much anything that isn’t too cheesy!

Apple Crumble
Apparently, the most searched for recipe on is, you guessed it, apple crumble!

When it comes to this classic dessert, you will need a subtle wine that doesn’t overpower the delicately sweet flavours. Apples don’t have the most potent taste in the world, and crumble is a cosy and gentle flavour, most often served with sweet vanilla ice cream or custard.

Therefore, I would recommend pairing apple crumble with a wine that won’t fight against this sweet and subtle pud. Zinfandel is a great red option with cinnamon, and fruity berry notes that will enhance the apple. Alternatively, a dry Riesling is a great white wine to pierce the sweetness of the dessert, without detracting from it, due to its citrus and green apple notes.

We are fortunate to live in a country with four distinct seasons (sometimes all in one day, like last Wednesday!) and the variety of meat, fruit and vegetables that this provides changes with those seasons.

Eating seasonally and locally, is about pleasure, variety and discovery. It makes for the richest, most delicious, diverse and healthy diet…we just need to make a conscious effort to discover it!