The sun is out, the infamous red chinos of St Andrews have been replaced by red chino shorts and it is time for spring dinner parties and BBQs. Prompted by the good weather (relative to the fact that we are in Scotland), The Saint has created this spring guide as an update to last semester’s version, bringing you irresistible wine and food combinations to carry you up until the end of second semester.
Understandably, the company that you are currently keeping may have changed somewhat from the beginning of last semester. Indeed, one of the aims of the previous guide was to help the academic parents among you achieve dinner party perfection by detailing a selection of food and wine pairings to impress even the most discerning of academic children. However, as the weeks have gone on many of your children may have stopped returning your messages after you publicly humiliated them by making them dress up as ‘Netflix and Chill’ complete with ice cubes. Moreover, you may have decided that your former ‘people’ no longer cut the mustard after they have turned up to your flat seeking late night refuge from their snoring flatmate one too many times.
Therefore, you may now be entertaining a new set of dinner party guests, who bring with them the opportunity to impress anew. Fear not, this guide of essential spring food and wine pairings, written with the help of Peter Wood, the owner of the St Andrews Wine Company on Bell Street, is all you need to make a good impression.
What could be better than idling away a sunny afternoon with a picnic on the beach? The only answer to that is idling away a sunny afternoon with a champagne picnic on the beach. Mr Wood suggests pairing a bottle of Vaporetto Prosecco (£11) with your sausage rolls and finger sandwiches for the perfect match. Alternatively, if you want to splash out on something really special then Gremillet Champagne (£25) is the one to go for. And if you were wondering what wines go well with a summer quiche, the answer is none. Egg and wine is a very difficult combination to get right, so maybe just leave that out of your picnic selection.
This simple spring dinner party staple can be served with pizzazz by pairing it with the lighter Alvarinho from Gaudia (£13.50) or the zesty Picpoul de Pinet from Font-Mars (£13.50). After pouring out a generous to ungenerous serving (depending on how fond you are of your guests) just roast some Mediterranean vegetables, boil some baby new potatoes to serve alongside and you have a failsafe main for your next soirée.
Pudding is always essential to the success of a dinner, so a light and sweet Riesling, with its residual sugar is a sure winner with this fruity number. Mr Wood recommends the Riesling Spatlese by Schloss Saarstein (£20) or, for a cheaper price, the Moscato d’asti by Forteto della Luja (£13). Now that you only have to choose between two different types of wine the only question left is whether you fancy double cream, clotted cream or ice cream.
Last but not least, the BBQ is the ultimate summer staple and the one type of cooking that all men like to think that they are master of. Whether your flatmate does indeed become Gordon Ramsey when he steps up to the grill, producing beef burgers charred to perfection, or whether his efforts are just plain burnt, there is nothing that a good red cannot improve. Mr Wood advises choosing a Syrah or Grenache from Rhone, with his top picks being Le Sabounet by Roger Sabon (£9.95) or the very reasonably priced St Andrews Wine Company house red ‘Vin Rouge’ (£7).
However, once you have tried (and dazzled) with these combinations, there is no need to stop there. Those of you who have now mastered the art of wine tasting at home using the handy tips provided in the last guide now have the perfect opportunity to expand your wine repertoire at the recently opened tasting area at the St Andrews Wine Company. This new area allows you to taste a variety of different wines and pick the perfect one to outshine your friends (as, let’s be honest, the dinner party rota can very easily turn friendly hospitality into something from an episode of Come Dine With Me).
This tasting area comprises of a seating area where you can go through a selection of different wines at your leisure. There are normally several different bottles of wine open, and a nifty tool that allows the staff to tap into bottles without removing the corks means that there is often a selection of thirty or more varieties for tasting, a number that will be increasing in the coming months.
The St Andrews Wine Company is able to offer this impressive range of wines for tasting due to the fact that the company deals mainly with small family run producers and specialist importers who are eager for people to try their wines. This means that they have some assistance with obtaining sample bottles- allowing us lucky students to try different wines all year round. It would be a waste not to make space in your busy schedule to take up this opportunity because, as important as our degrees are, in real life we are probably go- ing to have more of a chance to show off our knowledge of different wines than to recite quotes from Paradise Lost verbatim.