Wine Pairing made easy by Waitrose Cellar

On a fine evening last week when the sun suddenly decided to shine upon us Londoner’s I happened to be invited to a blogger bash to celebrate the launch of Waitrose Cellar – the  new online wine service by Waitrose ,at the London Canal Museum.

With over 1200 interesting & exclusive wines,Champagnes & spirits to choose from at Waitrose Cellar online you can order any 6 wines with free delivery.The best part is the Waitrose Cellar experts hand pick mixed cases and  they are just a phone call away to address any queries you may have related to their wines  ,but if you’d rather do the food and wine pairing yourself ,there’s a wealth of knowledge on the Waitrose Cellar website where you can browse through 40 articles, watch over 150 tasting videos and read ratings on product pages,you can even learn how to expertly pop open a bottle of champagne!

Our wine experts for the evening – Stèphane and Xenia set the mood for the evening by popping some champagne.Stèphane started with a  level 3 award in wines and spirits from WSET and perfected his wine knowledge to become a wine waiter, then head sommelier before he became part of the Waitrose Cellar team. Xenia a Master of wine (2003) came to Waitrose last December ,with 24 years experience in the wine trade, she has worked as an independent wine consultant,a buyer for a large brewery,retailer and wine importer. After a spot of introductions over some champagne and starters I chatted with some very familiar friendly  faces. 14th May'14 Waitrose Wine Cellar event5 (Copy) It’s then that I noticed my name badge had a little picture of a glass of red and some others had picture of white wine on their badges ,the red wine gang set sail with Stèphane and the white wine badges went off with Xenia.We were taken onto a traditional canal boat to sail along the Regent’s Canal ,sample some of the brilliant Waitrose wines while Stèphane, took us through the story behind each wine and got us to think how best we could pair our wine with various mains. 14th May'14 Waitrose Wine Cellar event1 (Copy) (Copy)

If like me you’ve never sailed before on a traditional canal boat these beauties come equipped with a cute compact kitchen, ‘leisure’ accommodation and a nice little seating area for socialising which we promptly abandoned for a place on the deck, after all who can resist the soft evening sunlight and the light cooling breeze while sipping some fine wine and dreaming of  delicious food to pair it with! While sipping on Prosecco, Stèphane shared a naughty little trick to amp up your sweet bakes,he adds just a tiny pinch of pepper along with some salt ,takes the tooth-grinding sweet edge off the bake and gives just the right hint of flavour,am definitely going to give this fab idea a try soon!

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We started with tasting the  white wines ,of the white wines we tried I loved the Cave de Lugny Sparkling Burgundy Blanc de Blancs NV the most ,perfect for summer parties and nibbles.This Chardonnay from Burgundy has a  fresh, crisp, apple and citrusy flavour makes it really easy sparkling wine to drink. Also quite liked the Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon,which is a very dry,fresh western Australian Sauvignon which would go really well with fresh seafood,steamed greens by the side or a sinful portion of gnocchi with toasted pine nut and fresh green basil pesto. This white,I daresay is even better than the other Antipodean varieties like Chardonnay. Moving on to red’s, by which time we had passed through the Reagent’s Canal and am sure managed to gulp some stray drops of water falling off the musty old bridge as well, but am sure we were either honestly engrossed in conversation or blissfully unaware of anything expect how much fun we were having by then , which I shall safely blame on the progressive climb towards feeling pleasantly buzzed – no , not shamelessly tipsy.Am  eagerly waiting to once again savour the Waitrose Chianti Classico Barone Ricasoli. This full-bodied Tuscan red is a delight on the palate with its woody notes and velvety texture,perfect for grilled meats and roasted peppers- think juicy kebabs with minty chutney. Made in partnership with Ricasoli family who were the first producers of Chianti , no wonder then this wine has won the Decanter Bronze Medal for classic Chianti. Before we knew it, we had worked our way through 16 different ,fabulously delicious Waitrose wines and by the time we got back to the Canal Museum we had worked up quite an appetite and speedily devoured the fab spread laid out for us.

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Stèphane and Xenia continued to reveal one secret after another of how best to choose a wine just right for you and how to go about pairing  food & wine.Then it was time for some speed wining – yes you heard that right Speed Wining!  I’ve never been speed dating but enough hours of watching crime and romantic dramas on the telly have left me no stranger to what its all about ,only this was way more fun because we got to talk about our favourite food and wine and didn’t need to impress our very friendly bunch of fellow foodies. I think I managed to ask some rather interesting and fun questions along with some rather boring ones but the user-friendly Waitrose Cellar website made it really easy for us to look for wines that would best suit the personality and tastes in food of our speed wining partners.

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Don’t we all look like we really had a great time ‘speed wining’? 🙂 And now a look at my favourites from the evening, the sparkling burgundy and classic Chianti both perfect matches for the sea food lover in me who also has a weakness for juicy kebabs,lamb curry and a major sweet tooth.

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Am happy to say that as a result of our speed wining session my fellow red team mates Becky,Snigdha,Anne,Laura and May managed to almost accurately guess which type of  wines I’d  enjoy the most.So when the 6 wine case for each of us, sent by Waitrose Cellar online, reached me I couldn’t wait to get cooking and wine pairing!

First up of course I shall be popping some Champagne – Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV(picked for me by Laura for my love of sweet and a bit of fizz) – to celebrate becoming aunty to a bonny boy and my niece clearing her GCSE equivalent in India with flying colours!Definitely calling for some bubbly,loads of canapes and well some more bubbly 😉

For my Sunday lunch with my family I will be pairing lamb curry with Catena Malbec chosen for me by Anne .I know my dessert wine for this month  will be the Limited Reserve Peachy wine from my wine case selected for me by May to appease my sweet tooth after a spicy meal.  Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett  will keep me company for familiar flavours of fresh seafood curries and fusion meals with scallops and soft shell crabs ,thanks to Snigdha’s choice.Waitrose Chablis picked for me by Becky who quizzed me and learnt of my love for ciders.This Chablis is so apt for a lazy summer afternoons with sea food starters.Last but certainly not the least the Sparkling Burgundy with a beautiful label that adorns the bottle ,which also is in my case,will be shared over lots of cake for a double birthday celebration with my family who are visiting us end of this month – exciting times ahead!

Feeling a bit of envious are we now? Don’t !For even you can win £1000 worth of wine specially chosen JUST for you by Waitrose Cellar Experts .Plus 5 runners-up will win a ready-made collection of  Waitrose Wine Teams 30 favourite wines. Now I would certainly clink my glass to that! You can also tweet away – @waitrosewine and chat up the wine experts.


14th May'14 Waitrose Wine Cellar event2 (Copy) All the fabulous photos in this post are by Emma  @emmakerf.

*With thanks to Waitrose Cellar for the invite.No monetary compensation was provided for this post.All views expressed are my own.