Pairing Madeira Wine With Food

Madeira rocks my world. There’s nothing like it. But what makes it even more awesome, is it’s ability to pair with food. Here’s to Madeira and food. Thanks for following and sharing my site. Did you know Mad about Madeira is on Facebook as well? 

One of the main reasons why Madeira isn’t as appreciated as it could be, is related to the fact that few dares to serve it with food. People tend to stay conservative in their minds when it comes to wine and food pairing; white with fish and red with meat. If caught in such a narrow-minded approach, the fortified wines of Madeira stand little chance.

But it doesn’t have to be hard. Pairing wine and food isn’t rocket science even if many sommeliers really do their best to make us believe it is. Today we all know that meat on the plate doesn’t automatically result in a glass of red in the glass. The garniture, the side order, the sauce and the spicing of the dish plays an even more important role upon choosing a wine.

Photo taken of the old menu at the Bussaco Palace Hotel. 1808 Sercial with steamed lobster for the Queen and the duke of Edinburgh.

Imagine you’re having ham tonight. Meat you think, ergo red wine. But what if you do a starter with prosciutto where you wrap cubes of melon with the ham? Still red? No, now you allow the melon to play an important role in the pairing and probably choses a refreshing white wine, young and with some acidity to it.

What if you skip the white wine with your prosciutto wrapped melon and try a young Sercial or even a Verdelho with that? Would it taste good? Only your palate can decide upon that, but if you never try, there won’t be any aha moments when food and wine pairing. For me, a cantaloupe melon, in cubes with a Serrano wrapped around it, is a sublime match with a younger Sercial.

What do you serve with mushrooms; it’s the season now and I can’t think of anything better than chanterelles and porcinis. Fried in butter, some chopped onions and then put on a piece of toast. Simplicity. Have you ever considered pouring a
Verdelho with that? You can put on some age as well if you like. For me, it’s a pairing made in heaven. The same goes for a creamy mushroom soup and Verdelho.

What’s your preference when it comes to sushi, shellfish and clams? Depending on the cooking of course, I like a young Sercial. Such smooth taste together. Just make sure the Sercial is chilled to roughly 12 C for an even greater refreshing match.

Ok, so you skip dessert and go for a cheese plate instead. Tough one. In order not to look greedy, we put up too many cheeses on the plate. So, prepare yourself for some really nasty combos because most of you will stay conservative and pick a red wine. Few cheeses pairs well with red wine in my world; I prefer most of the times a white wine.

But you can’t pour one wine per cheese so why not go for the Bual? A ten years old Bual has the intensity to match a Roquefort, meet the saltiness which results in that lovely contrasting feel. Salt and sweet. But it will also, thanks to a fruitiness in the wine, pair extremely well with a hard cheese like a Gruyére, Appenzeller or Parmiggiano. It can handle the Stilton and works well with the Chaumes kind of cheese. It will demolish a fresh cheese but then again, the Bual will most likely pair well with a majority of the cheeses. Please tell me what red or white wine could do the same?

Dessert time and your guests can hardly move anymore. You still want to pour a sweet wine to finish a nice meal, so why not go for a Malvasia? Yes, it’s sweet but Madeira Malvasia has the acidity that makes you think refreshingly sweet and not cloyingly.

Chocolate desserts? Malvasia. Fruits? Malvasia. Lemon or orange mousse? Malvasia.  Strong cheeses? Malvasia. A five or ten years old will do the job.

And then, instead of a brandy in the evening, you pour an older Madeira. Half the alcohol, twice as good! Finally, you can do as Reid’s Palace and mix a Madeira drink. The Madeirini is simply their version of a Dry Martini. Just switch out the Vermouth and replace it with a Sercial. To make it really tasty, you add a vintage Sercial.

So, who said you couldn’t drink Madeira with food?

Should you need a guide, Blandy’s has already done all the hard work for you.