I was thinking about the recent phenomenon of home delivered food. Not that delivering food is a phenomenon but, it appears, the choices have improved markedly, and serious converts will tell you it is now possible to have a restaurant quality meal at home for a fraction of the price.
Well, I call bullshit on that. First, what does restaurant quality even mean? Believe me I’ve had some ‘restaurant’ meals in an actual restaurant that wouldn’t pass muster in a military mess hall. And, conversely, I’ve had some cracking meals cooked by regular people (read non-chefs) which I’ve eaten with my knees around my ears in a very hippy-esque bean bag-ish front room of a suburban Californian bungalow.
What is true, and all the stats back it up, is that you’re eating at home more often. And by extension, drinking at home more often as well. That’s where Carboot Wines comes in.
If you’ve decided to trade in the multi-million-dollar harbour-view dining room for a view of the 64 inch Sony HD OLED TV at dinner time, at least don’t skimp on the wine.
Ironically wine is packaged for travel, sometimes across the globe, in recyclable containers. This is nothing like your future dinner, which is packaged in various forms of landfill and delivered to you in a ‘hot bag’ by Nitesh on his moped (or worse, by some uber-sweaty gung-ho extreme-sport junkie who revels in dodging traffic and chucking monos on his mountain bike as he delivers your delicate assiette of lamb to you within the promised 45 minutes).
If it was me, I wouldn’t bother with the food order at all. I’d strike out on my own, making a simple pizza dough, investing in some heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, cranking the oven as high as it’ll go and having a real crack at putting my local Crust joint out of business. Then I’d apply all my remaining thought muscle to which wine I should drink with my dinner.
People have all sorts of ideas about what makes a great pizza wine. Some like to match an inexpensive meal with an inexpensive wine. Others go the opposite way and rebelliously drink something outrageously expensive alongside the simplest of dishes. But price should never be part of the matching criteria.
Pizza is popular because it ticks all the boxes. It has cheese for creaminess and lip-smacking saltiness, tomato for juicy lift and fresh herbs for aroma and savoury notes. This same balance is where we head when trying to unlock the secrets of a perfect wine to match. We look for wines with forward fruit flavours, a lively acid structure and hints of tannin or dryness. For this reason, we tend toward red wines but only a fool would discount white wines altogether.
Tart whites are good but make sure it’s the right kind of acid (not the fruit punch flavours of a Sauvignon Blanc). Consider a Chenin Blanc with its own wonderous balance of richness and tartness. You’ll be amazed at how a little residual sugar in your wine makes your mozzarella sing louder than Pavarotti. Also suitable is a slate-y unwooded Chardonnay. The other option is, unsurprisingly, a milder Italian style white, such as Arneis or Vermentino, which allows the pizza to remain the hero.
With red wines my preference is for lighter, brighter wines hell-bent on juiciness. Beaujolais (Gamay) is bang-on. Pinot Noir is excellent for delivering more delicate but zingy fruit sweetness. Our favourite however is Sangiovese, with its balletic palate, both delicate and muscular.
Of course, we will never discourage you from simply drinking what you like. After all, surrounding yourself with the things you love is the way to happy-town but, like the secret to a long and happy marriage, maybe a little experimentation wouldn’t go astray.