Wine & Food

Snooth User: dmcker

Matching Challenge 5: what wine here?

Posted by dmcker, Sep 26, 2016.

Haven't put up one of these in awhile. This time will make things more specific and real, in that you will need to imagine you're hosting a meal at this restaurant in London's Soho. It's something I did a few times during my period of busy London business visits at the end of the '80s through early last decade. The first time I sweated a bit because I wasn't as familiar with the wines from the restaurant's country of origin as I wanted to be. The restaurant was well known in certain circles, and is still around, though I haven't visited it in nearly a decade and it may not be the same as during its prime, especially since its rebranding.

We'll work with their current menu and winelist.

Venue: The Gay Hussar

No. in party: 10 expected with an unexpected 2 more brought along by other guests

Party member particulars: experienced, traveled individuals, some but not all of whom know their wine. Not so many familiar with Hungarian cuisine or wine.

Theme/aim for dinner: Getting to know each other better; several business project colleagues but also others on the fringe (politics, government, academics, arts, partners and spouses, et al.; those were my guests but you can imagine your own mix), so very little talk of business


How would you deal with the food, and what wines would you order or otherwise provide? I'll leave the menu and wine lists as links for now but can cut and paste into this thread if people think that would be easier. Will add my own experiences later, after others have piped in.


n.b./p.s.  Though judging from past experience DV might consider this 'work', at least it's fun work!  Looking forward to people's ideas...  ;-)



Reply by JonDerry, Sep 27, 2016.

Well, my wife and M-I-L were born in Debrecen. Some hearty reds with decent cut should be in order for the mains. 

My dad from Milwaukee but of Serbian heritage, and I can remember being around when they'd drink and or talk about Slivovitz. First time seeing that on a menu I think. Suppose I should take the time to make some, at least once.

I'll be in New York just before Halloween, maybe worth a visit.

Reply by dvogler, Sep 27, 2016.

I had a problem with the wine list.  It showed nothing.

The dinner menu had some great options.  I'd go for the venison goulash.  I know Greg would expound on the Tokaji, which I'm assuming they obviously have a vast collection.

Since I'd be on the other side of the pond, I'd have a Hermitage or Cote Rotie with my meal.  I'll try looking up the wine list a different way.

At the moment I'm only thinking of myself, not the other guests.  Now I have to go do some work that pays ;)

Post script:  I saw the wine list.  I'd go with #16, the Hungarian Cab Franc.

Reply by JonDerry, Sep 27, 2016.

Tokaji Furmint for a dry white, though I'm not sure what the ideal pairing here is, it would seem hard to go wrong. 

Villanyi Merlot would be my pick off the list for reds. Crispy roast duck looks nice, maybe better suited for a red Burgundy.

Tokaji 5 Puttonyos afterward.

Didnt notice this restaurant was in London, bummer.



Reply by bostonlobsterman, Sep 27, 2016.
Hungarian Hors d’Oeuvres
    Laurent Perrier Brut NV
Smoked Breast of Goose with Sólet and Red Cabbage
Sauska Villanyi Cabernet Franc
Reply by dmcker, Oct 8, 2016.

Well so far Hungarian has been my least popular matching challenge.

And am surprised nobody even mentioned BYO. Old winelist was better than the current one for the reborn restaurant.

Reply by GregT, Oct 9, 2016.

I actually know most of the wines. And I'd go with Hungarian wine since that's what the food is. It's not like there's any magical pairing mind you, but what the hell.

I'd start with the goose and pork pate. Their fish dishes are often rather disappointing to me, except for the things like pickled herring, which just awful with wine, although delicious on its own.

You might try the sausage or mushrooms with a white like the Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Tricollis. It's a blend of Olaszriesling and Riesling with a bit of Gewurtztraminer. It's fragrant and may have a touch of RS. It's an ancient winery, dating back to something like 900 AD.

The Cserszegi Fuszeres is another that is kind of fragrant. Not like a Muscat, but it has hints of flowers and grass. Both of those would go with the fish too, as would the Furmint. Sauska is really based in Villány, on the other side of Hungary, but he has property in Tokaj too. He lived in the US for a while and worked with the Dept of Defense for a time before he went back to Hungary to establish a winery.

For mains, I'd go with something involving duck or goose, just because the Hungarians do those so well, or a game. You're good here with the classic middle European pairings with cabbage.

The St Andrea wine is a puzzle. It's a fairly inexpensive wine, a blend of Kékfrankos, Pinot Noir, and some other things. They're actually a good winery, very ambitious, and if they had a pure Kékfrankos or Bikavér I'd go with one of those. Not sure why they don't have one of those on the list. It's sort of like having BV Napa instead of something like Tapestry or GdL. Or go with the Frittman - unlike the others, I don't know that specific wine however. Those wines will have a lot of acidity and they tend to be kind of woody. The Hungarian oak can have a kind of root vegetable quality sometimes, so you'll be good.

As far as the sweet wines, they're not doing their job with that list. The St Stephen's is a mediocre wine, or at least was last times I had it. The Király I don't understand. It's a vineyard. A number of producers get grape from there, and some produce very good wine. So if this is from say, Füleky, it will be great wine. But I think it's going to be an indifferent one. I'd go with the Szamarodni. That's going to be somewhat more like a Sauternes than an aszú wine, but sometimes those are really nice.

I'd pass on the desserts, although if you're into it, a nice Dobos torte can be a good thing. But it's pretty rich and better to have in the afternoon with some coffee. It was a pretty famous cake in the day - the baker brought back the recipe for buttercream when he visited France, and he used to tour with the cake. He was a celebrity chef back before those existed. But I'd sit with the sweet wine and maybe have some cheese if they could get some.



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