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Fish 'n' Chips 'n' Fizz
New Review
By Frances Bentley

July 2011

 

Fish 'n' chips, the great British institution, usually faces the disrespect of being washed down with Irn Bru, cheap continental lager or nowt at all. When I was a lass, the importance of fish 'n' chips was drummed into us - it's a meal of love, it was an event in our household, and the go-to libation was the strongest tea that we could muster.

 

As time rolled on and I hit the sauce, I upgraded from builders' tea to playing around with wines. At the beginning, this can be disastrous; most white wines either lack the acidity to cope with the batter, lack the flavour to compete with the salt or lack the subtlety of fruit and wind up overpowering the more delicate fish. This lack of a perfect match became an obsession - I love my chippy teas, but I didn't know what to drink with them, and beer just didn't seem to cut it.

 

Now, I present to you the results of some very extensive research. The ideal pairings are champagne and sherry. Champagne, though more ostentatious, is arguably the most fun match. The fizz in champagne cuts through the fat and batter, without shouting over the flavour and texture of the fish itself; it's a great match and one that is championed in some restaurants now. When selecting your champagne, choose a richer, more full-on style. I recommend Roederer NV (widely available) and Duval-Leroy Blancs Des Blancs '99 (The Fine Wine Company).

 

Sherry, in particular Manzanilla seems made for fish 'n' chips. This very dry style has a hint of salt due to the time it spends maturing along the coast of Cadiz. It's a very particular style, with a light nuttiness which pairs beautifully with beer batter and cod. It can feel odd to be drinking a fortified wine with something such as this, but it's one of my favourite treats - especially out of plastic cups on an impromptu picnic. Villeneuve Wines, Henderson's Wines and Edinburgh Wine Merchants all have excellent ranges of sherries.

 

If you're after a more traditional pairing, Loire whites often work well as they have the necessary acidity and balanced fruit. Muscadet and the Sauvignon from less expensive appellations such as Quincy are good shouts. Despite my research, I'm confident that there is still something to be said for a cup of over-brewed Yorkshire tea.

 

 

 

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