Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mince Pies and Wine

A carrot for the reindeer and a mince pie for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve was one of my early memories of these sweet and savoury treats. The noble  minced pie may have its roots  and connections with the crusaders of the 13th century, the Romans, or the Tudors; but it endures like Christmas cake sans the jokes. If lore is correct, the first pies were made from shredded meats, suet, and dried fruits, and as time and commerce progressed the addition of exotic spices from the Near East.

Today's typical mincemeat recipe consists of apples, raisins, currants, candied citrus peel, suet, butter, sugar, and sweet spices. These key elements make wine pairing straightforward. Seek out wines that are comparable or sweeter than the dessert and complement the flavour profile of the pies (orange and raisin). 

Top choices from lightest to fullest.
Muscat (California)
Muscat de Baumes-de-Venise (France)
Passito di Pantelleria (Italy)
Tokaji 5 Puttonyos or sweeter (Hungary)
Tokay Muscat (Australia)
Malmsey Madeira (Portugal)
Tawny Port (Portugal)
East India Sherry or PX (Spain)

If you are in the UK or have family there consider bidding on some extraordinary mince pies for child charity.  One hundred British chefs are creating pies pushing the limits of creativity. Some of these recipes would make amazing wine pairing possibilities. Here's a few intriguing mince pie variations.

Nobu Mince Pie 2012 | Black coconut ashes
 and black sesame
Gymkhana Mince Pie Naan: raisins, orange zest, pistachio, coconut, cardamon and Brandy Rabri

Duck & Waffle: Lemon meringue mince pie, roasted marshmallow, vanilla lemon curd

Nobu: Maguma mince pie: Kuro-Goma dough with a spicy core

SmokeHouse: Swirls of cinnamon and bacon sugar puff pastry, bacon and bourbon mincemeat all dipped in bourbon butterscotch

Happy Christmas!

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