I think this might be the first ever mention of a takeaway on my blog, but I was recently set an interesting challenge. I was asked to match a bottle of Chablis wine with some takeaway food of my choice. Perhaps somewhat oddly, my thoughts immediately turned to our local, Indian restaurant, the Koh-i-Noor. This is because, in our house, we owe our local Indian restaurant a debt. They once attempted to deliver a takeaway to us in the snow. After around an hour and a half, we received a phone call to say that the driver was ‘alright,’ but that unfortunately his car was not, having skidded in the snow down a steep hill. Our takeaway food never arrived. So now, we always make sure we look outside to check the weather conditions before ordering and whenever we do fancy a takeaway, we always order from the same restaurant to allieviate our guilt at their smashed up car! So, a takeaway curry and a bottle of Chablis it was.
With two young children, long gone are the days of popping out for a curry. These days, the food has to find its way to us. We are not big beer drinkers and so if we are going to treat ourselves to a takeaway, we usually enjoy it with a nice cool, crisp glass of white wine. Chablis also holds a special place in my heart. The very first ‘decent’ bottle of wine that I drank was a bottle of Chablis Premier Cru. It was given to me by a customer when I worked as a waitress at a football club in Manchester – the red one. It was a very special bottle as it had been signed by some of the players shortly after the team had won the double. I wish now that I hadn’t drank it, as it would probably have been worth a fair bit now as a collector’s item. Unfortunately, I did drink it and the bottle stands empty (though still signed) in my mother’s cabinet at home. It was a great revelation. I realised that wine did not have to be warm and sweet. I realised that there was more to life than a bottle of Blue Nun. Wine could be sophisticated and I was eager to know more. A few years later, I progressed from a ‘silver service’ waitress to a ‘wine waitress’ and I remember that the most popular choice by far on the wine menu was a bottle of Chablis. Ever since my days as a wine waitress, I’ve always looked out for Chablis on the menu when we eat out, or offers on Chablis from the supermarket as a treat.
So, to the Chablis and my curry. I concede, it might not be an obvious pairing, but if you chose something fragrant and very lightly spicy, particularly something with seafood, then a young Petit Chablis is a perfect match. I always have the same thing when I order from our local takeaway. It’s a dish that features on the menu under ‘Chef’s Specialities’ called Chittagong Chingri (King prawns) – “A very popular dish amongst the local villages and fishermen along the Coxs Bazaar Beach (the longest, unbroken natural sea beach in the world – approximately 110km). This dish is prepared in a wok-like frying pan with a touch of vegetable oil, king prawns and fresh baby spinach, stir-fried together with light spices.” Quite apart from the delicate, fresh flavours and succulent king prawns, eating it almost transports me to those fishing villages in Bangladesh, whilst a sip of Chablis brings me back closer to home (well, Europe) and to the rolling vineyards of northern Burgundy. There are quite strong citrus flavours in this dish, along with fresh tomatoes, fresh spinach and spices, almost certainly garlic, onions, turmeric, ground coriander and possibly garam masala. The lightness and lemony notes in this seafood dish are a perfect partner to the Chablis. According to my tasting notes, the intensity of the Petit Chablis was medium, the colour gold, the aromas were fruity (perhaps a hint of grapfruit) and slightly spicy, the body and acidity levels were medium, but the finish was long. Do I sound like I know what I am talking about?!
I’ve travelled many times through France by car and we must have stayed in the Burgundy region more than once, though I have never toured the region or appellation of Chablis itself. I’m intruiged to learn that it is such a large region and that Chablis covers four appellations: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. I was surprised to learn that the only grape variety permitted on the entire Chablis vineyard is Chardonnay. I’m not a Chardonnay fan and yet Chablis is perhaps one of the most drinkable French wines you’ll find. The appellation Petit Chablis is at the top of the slopes; Chablis is the largest of the four and is exposed to the north and east, the Chablis Premier Cru is exposed to the south and the west with an ‘aromatic complexity,’ whilst the Chablis Grand Cru, usually aged between 10 and 15 years and benefitting from ‘specific exposure and exceedingly rich subsoil,’ will provide you with something more oaky and mature.
Don’t be fooled that the Chablis name denotes a très expensive bottle of wine. The 2011 (unoaked) Petit Chablis is described as a ‘young, lively wine’ and retails at £9.99, but I have seen some supermarkets selling their own label of Petit Chablis for around £8.49. I also tasted a Chablis Vieilles Vignes (2011) which retails at £13.49. This was more golden in colour and slightly more robust – it would go well with a stronger, spicier, curry, or perhaps a tandoori, if you are going for a takeaway, or with most types of French cheese if you want to stick to French cuisine.
You’ll always impress if you take a bottle of Chablis along to a dinner party and it can be served as a simple aperitif, or alongside nibbles or a more substantial meal.
Always look out for Appellation Chablis Controlée.
With many thanks to Chablis/Sopexa for sending me a couple of bottles of wine to sample along with some useful information on wine tasting at home.
I’m in with a chance of winning a special trip to the annual Chablis tasting and gastronomy event. So, fingers crossed for me and Bon Chance to the other challenge participants!
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