Pâté

Jukes Wine And Food Pate

Regardless of its main ingredients, pâté is, perhaps surprisingly, keen on white wines. The only reds that work are featherweights such as Beaujolais and Bardolino. In the white world, you need to hunt down fruity, aromatic wines from any decent estate. The crucial character you are searching for in these wines, in terms of taste, is a degree of fruitiness (not much, just a hint). All styles from technically dry (but still ripe and fruity – Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Chenin Blanc and so on) up to genuine rich/sweet wines can be considered. Pâté is usually served as a starter, so pouring a sweet wine at the beginning of the meal might seem arse about face, but if you are serving pudding or cheese later on in proceedings (make sure you plan this carefully beforehand), you can happily open a bottle of sweet wine, serve a few small glasses for starters and finish it off later. Many sweet wines are sold in half (37.5cl) or 50cl bottles, so if it’s a small gathering, anything up to six, you’ll not waste a drop. Chicken liver pâté favours dry to medium-dry German Riesling, Alsace Riesling, Pinot Blanc or mildly sweet white Bordeaux styles (Loupiac or Cadillac) and older Aussie Rieslings (Eden and Clare Valleys). Country pâté, a clumsy catch-all term that often hints at a coarser texture pâté of indeterminate origin, again likes light white wines with a degree of sweetness (or a pint or two of real ale). If you are pushed into choosing from a short wine list or are confronted with an undernourished offie, then play safe, buy a dry white and hope for the best. But if you have the luxury of choice, then Alsace is a great region to start hunting. Riesling and Pinot Gris are the plum picks here. Head to the New World and you’ll find Riesling in abundance in Australia, while Chilean Gewürztraminer is an unusual but rewarding style. With duck pâté and foie gras (goose liver), we are firmly in sweet wine territory – Sauternes, Loire and Alsace sweeties, Aussie botrytised Riesling and Semillon, or, on a tighter budget, Monbazillac, Ste-Croix du Mont, Loupiac, Cadillac and Saussignac, Sauternes’ taste-alike neighbours. If you have never tasted this heady food and wine combo, you are in for a very pleasant surprise indeed. Parfait, the smoother, creamier, Mr Whippy version of pâté, tends to reveal its covert brandy ingredient more than a coarse pâté, so make sure your wine is rich enough to cope with this. If you don’t want to sip a sweet wine, then nearly-sweet whites from Alsace also work. Vendange Tardive (late-picked) wines offer richness without cloying, sugary sweetness and will appease the non-sweet wine fans. Grapes to consider are Pinot Gris, Muscat, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. Smoked salmon pâté and other fish pâté incarnations are well served by dry aromatic whites (see ‘Fish’). One thing to remember with pâté dishes is that occasionally chutney (or onion confit/marmalade) is served on the side, giving an intense, sweet fruit or veg explosion of flavour, which may confuse the wine. Alsatian Vendange Tardive wines, mentioned above, have tons of spice and richness of fruit and they will simply cruise through these added flavours – dry wines will choke. I have already talked about gherkins and capers in the ‘Charcuterie’ section, so keep them well patrolled.