Recently, here in Wexford on the sunny South East coast of Ireland, we’ve had a 50th celebration of the Strawberry Fair in Enniscorthy and a decent (but brief) enough hint at an Irish heatwave. These and the start of Wimbledon this week, made me ponder – if sunshine had a taste, what would it be like? After much deliberation, I have decided that it must be similar in taste to that of Wexford strawberries and wine paired together.
In this post, I will outline some strawberry and wine pairing options and will provide you with a few recipes to use during these summer days.
As I prepared for this post, I came across an interesting observation by our friends in Wexford Fruit Producers Ltd (Sunny Wexford Strawberries). Their website states that the strawberry is not strictly a fruit. Apparently, it is an enlarged stem-end, made up of lots of tiny fruits called achenes. (most of us call them seeds).
There’s a good pub-quiz question right there! Anyway, the website also mentions that strawberries are very rich in potassium and folic acid. So all in all, it is a very healthy berry.
As mentioned, I’ll be outlining some recipes for wine and strawberries later, but if you’re interested in food recipes, Wexford Strawberries have some excellent ideas on their site, here.
It is generally understood that some foods give you a thirst, but I don’t believe this to be the case with strawberries. The tangy and sweet berry gets the salivary glands going which attend to both thirst and hunger.
However, if you’re like me, you’ll probably want to enhance the flavour of whatever food you are tasting and this is what I want to write about. One of the things to note when pairing any drink with food is to find similar levels of sweetness, acidity or tartness.
Traditionally, Champagne has long been a good partner for strawberries. So, if you do decide on this pairing, I would suggest that you opt for a label that says demi-sec (which is slightly sweeter than its other type, brut which is drier).
Two other good pairings that I should mention would be a slightly sweet Italian Prosecco, a Gewurztraminer from the Alsace region of France or a Pinot Noir from Burgundy.
If you have a very sweet tooth, I would go for a gently sparkling Moscato d’Asti or the delicious style of Italian dessert wine, Vin Santo. In fact, if served with cream you could go for the famous desert wine from the Bordeaux region of France – Sauternes. We stock a lovely Carmes de Rieussec which would be perfect.
Wine and Wexford Strawberries
Now I want to share with you a drink favoured by locals that I stumbled upon during my travels across France. When in season, they pair fresh strawberries and a fruity red wine. Such wines could be a young Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais.
I don’t know what they call it, but the following would serve 4:
- 4 cups of Wexford strawberries
- 2 – 3 tbsp. of sugar
- 1 bottle of red wine (see above)
Wash, de-stem and cut the berries in half, lengthwise. Sprinkle sugar on the berries, mix and then leave aside to soak for about 1 hour. When ready, divide the berries into 4 wine glasses and pour in enough red wine to cover the berries. Serve the drinks and enjoy.
If you’re not a fan of red wine, no worries, here is a white wine alternative:
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 2 tbsp. of sugar
- 2 slices of lemon peel
- 4 cups of Wexford strawberries
Wash, de-stem and cut the berries in half, lengthwise. Mix in a bowl, the wine, the sugar and the lemon peel. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the berries and mix well. Cover and leave in a fridge for about 1 hour. Serve in stemmed glasses and enjoy.
Of course, Sangria is a favourite summer tipple also. Here is a 1-minute video from www.buzzfeed.com on how to make a sparkling strawberry-kiwi sangria. Contact us here in Green Acres if you would like to discuss types of wine to use in making any sangria.
Pairing Wine and Wexford Strawberries in Desserts
As alluded to at the start of this blog post, one trick to pairing wine and food is to match the sweetness levels. With deserts, this is even more relevant. If there is fresh fruit in the dessert (providing sweetness and tartness), an off-dry wine would be perfect (our own labelled Sauvignon Blanc would suit).
I already hinted at one of my favourite wine pairings for strawberries, Moscato d’Asti. This is a lightly sparkling wine from Northwest Italy. It is perfect for summer drinking because it has a refreshing sparkle, honeyed sweetness and a low-alcohol content. It is not as fizzy as Prosecco or Champagne and it will say frizzante on the label. The citrus and honey-like flavours of this wine highlight the fresh strawberry flavour for me.
Alternative pairings would be a Chenin Blanc from the Loire or a Gewurztraminer from Alsace or Germany.
Depending on how much you want to spend, we would recommend the following sparkling wines:
Budget: – Ca Maiol, Turbian, Vino Frizzante – €19 in Green Acres
Classic: – Ca Maiol, Sebastian, Vino Spumante Brut – €26 in Green Acres
Splurge: – Ca Maiol, Sebastian, Vino Spumante Rose – €65 in Green Acres
Anyone for Tennis, Wexford Strawberries and Wine?
You definitely don’t have to attend the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club to appreciate the strawberry season. However, whether you do attend The Championships in Wimbledon, or watch on TV from your couch, you will see many people popping a strawberry into their flute of Champagne (or any sparkling wine) during the event.
This is a classic way to balance sweetness and acidity. In fact, even a New World Sauvignon Blanc would be a suitable partner for strawberries in the sun.
However, if you’ve decided to treat yourself to a dessert such as an Eton Mess, Pavlova etc. more sweetness will be called for. I would recommend a fairly recent initiative here in Ireland – a strawberry wine. Lovingly handcrafted in the Garden of Ireland, Móinéir wines are luxurious artisan fruit wines, made in small batches from 100% Irish fruit, in Ireland’s first fruit winery, Wicklow Way Wines. Pamela Walsh and Brett Stephenson (pictured below) are developing a lovely range of products and I would recommend a chilled bottle of Móinéir (even without the strawberries).
Speaking of new initiatives, I did sample a strawberry and booze concoction, once in the UK, that I quite enjoyed. It was called – a Wimbledon Wine Punch. Unfortunately, I actually can’t recall where I came across the recipe below, so apologies to the original source for the lack of accreditation.
Serves (pun intended) 6 people:
Put about 300g of strawberries in a large bowl with some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle well with sugar. Mix it up and leave to stand for about 20 minutes. Get a punchbowl (e.g. an ice bucket) and half fill it with ice. Pour in a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and the strawberry mix. Stir well and add 250ml of gin (e.g. Green Acres Irish Gin). Stir it all up, sit back and enjoy the tennis with your guests.
Did you know – 9 Interesting Strawberry Facts?
- They are the first fruit to ripen each spring
- They are in the same subfamily as roses
- The Guinness World Record for the heaviest strawberry is 8.82 ounces
- Belgium has a museum dedicated to strawberries
- The ancient Romans thought strawberries had medicinal powers
- In France, they’re believed to be an aphrodisiac
- To store fresh strawberries – wash them and cut the stem away
- One cup of strawberries is only 55 calories
- A cup of strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange
A Taste of Sunshine and Wexford Strawberries
To conclude, for me, strawberries paired with wine must come close to what a ray of sunshine must taste like. (By the way, if you’d prefer a non-alcoholic pairing, milk goes perfectly well with them).
I’ve mentioned above that the traditional pairing with strawberries is with Champagne. Sometimes, for me, this may be a little dry on the pallet but it does depend on the type of Champagne and/or what the strawberries are served with. With this in mind, I’ll summarise this post with some my pairing recommendations for your consideration.
- Served on their own – off-dry sparkling wine
- Served with cream – dessert wine
- Served with cake – demi-sec champagne or sparkling wine
- Served in a pastry – desert wine
- Served with pavlova – strawberry wine or berry liqueur
- Served with dark chocolate –vin doux naturel
- Served with ice cream – chilled liqueur
I’ll leave you with some words from a John Denver song titled ‘Today’.
Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine,
I’ll taste your strawberries,
I’ll drink your wine.
A million tomorrows shall all pass away,
‘ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today.
I hope that you have enjoyed my views on the taste of sunshine and the various wine pairings that you can have with Wexford strawberries. We stock almost all of the wines (and definitely the strawberries) mentioned in the post so feel free to contact me or drop into Green Acres for a chat.
We look forward to engaging with you soon – Cheers, James