paramount tasting

French Fancy

On a Monday night, in my very jet-lagged state, I dragged myself to Paramount, London.

Let’s be honest, once up in the clouds with a 360° view of London (and fortified with a delicious glass of Clos du Papillon Savenierres in hand) I felt much more prepared to tackle a tasting. That is all I was expecting, a simple tasting- I was not prepared for my mind to be blown with some really great wines, and very unusual food and wine combinations.

The event was hosted by the very affable Douglas Blyde, with a focus on the wines of France, or L’Hexagon as it’s also known.

Douglas Blyde


DB had picked out a selection from the earlier tasting, and paired them alongside some rather unusual foods too. Here are my highlights:

When I think of French wines I certainly don’t think of ceviche, but our first combination was indeed this South American mainstay of raw fish, cured in citrus juice with a big hit of chilli and coriander.

What would you choose to go with this zesty dish? I don’t think in my wildest dreams I would have chosen a Gewürztraminer, and most definitely not a Pacherenc – a rare sweetie from the South of France.

ceviche wine pairing

Of the two, the Morrison’s Signature Gewürztraminer (£7.99) actually worked (surprisingly) well. Its delicate sweetness and the classic Turkish delight character, balanced out the saltiness and the heat of the ceviche very well.

The dessert wine, for me, was one step too far. While the Pacherenc (£13.99, Corney & Barrow) was very tasty in its own right, and a delight to try something so unusual, I found it brought out the soapy characteristic of the coriander in the dish.

Blyde definitely summed up the wine alone perfectly though, describing it as a “good scarf wine”, as it most certainly does wrap itself around you, leaving you feeling comforted, warm and fuzzy inside.

Next up was a celebrity wine, made by the fair hands (or funding, rather) of Dame Angelina and Monsieur Pitt. The Chateau Miraval rosé (£18, Lay & Wheeler) and the thai crab cakes were a great combination, again proving the versatility of French wines alongside international cuisine. I’m pleased to report too, that for a celebrity wine, this one actually tastes pretty darn good.

Celebrity rose

Finally there was the one pairing that I did agree with from the outset; the Rivesaltes Ambre alongside a cheeseboard. Just seeing it on the menu had me doing a little happy dance, as this is the best, and most versatile cheese wine I have ever found. It matched up to all three cheeses – Comte, Stilton and Brie – quite a mean feat.

The main thing I took way from the tasting? Do not underestimate the ability of French wine to work with cuisine on a worldwide scale. To quote Douglas “The French wine acts as the seasoning,” without it and the dish feels like it’s always missing a little je ne sais quoi.