I’M AN armchair Bonfire Night kind of person. I rarely venture outside to watch a fireworks display but peek through the windows admiring the flash-bang sprays of colour in the sky.
To be honest, I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat, ever since the age of 10 when I was chased round a garden by a Jumping Jack. That was a firework by the way, not an excitable schoolboy.
But I still enjoy all the treats that come with the annual anti-government festival; bonfire toffee, parkin, comforting red wine ... and sausages.
It’s not hard to see why some clever marketing people declared next week (November 5-11) National Sausage Week. Have a banger with your bangers.
What to drink with sausages on a cold, smoky night?
The Patriots Red 2010 was awarded the top pairing in a blind-tasting competition organised by What Food What Wine.
I tasted its younger sibling, The Patriots 2011 (£6.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk, 13.5%). Medium to full-bodied, it had an aroma of a spicy, blackberry bundle. To taste, it was rounded, smooth and soft, with a toasty vanilla murmur from oak aging.
It is from the Maipo Valley in Chile and like most wines from that slither of a country, was good quality for the price.
Laithwaites also have a “bonfire box” of reds at £83.88 which includes an intriguingly named The Waxed Bat Shiraz Cabernet Malbec 2012.
Other wine choices for sausages?
For beef sausages, What Food What Wine’s Director Frances Horder suggests: “Go for a spicy, full-bodied red wine. A nice cabernet sauvignon or grenache should do it. Any wine less robust will just fade into the background of your palette.”
For pork and leek, you could opt for a white, such as a chardonnay, pinot grigio or a chenin blanc. For hot and spicy, Frances says: “Balancing the heat and spice is the goal. If you’re cooking with these sausages (blutwurst, chorizo, etc), go for wines that have a level of sweetness. A zinfandel, shiraz or even a pinotage will be perfect.”
I came across a little gem this week which would be perfect with its Spanish compatriot, chorizo sausage.
I bought Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva (£12.29, Waitrose) under orders from my “I-fancy-rioja-tonight” daughter.
When we opened this wine a beautiful cloud of sweet, red fruit floated into the room.
On the nose just fruit, fruit fruit. It was a delight to swirl and breathe the aromas. Soft and supple to taste with strawberry and cherry and vanilla.
To complement peppery grilled bangers you could try pinot noir with its moderate tannins and fruity earthiness. Try Louis Jadot Côte de Beaune Villages 2009 (£14.99, Majestic, buy two and save £4). This medium-bodied wine is aged in wooden barrels for around 12 months and has good aromas of red fruits and a forest floor.
It is mellow, with a good weighty, cherry-layered structure.
Also worth trying from Louis Jadot – whose labels feature the head of Bacchus, the god of wine – is Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009 (from £10.49, Tesco.)
It is a blend of pinot noir grapes grown across Burgundy, some of which add deep tannins, others more fruitiness. Rather like Diana Dors (crikey – my age) it is plump, fruity and silky, but gentle and elegant too.
This is smooth, and light to medium-bodied with fragrant floral aromas and light red fruit flavours.