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Wine and Dine

A quick search of the internet reveals 26 million pages with recommendation on ‘food and wine matching.’  And here I am adding another!  Can I say anything that hasn’t been said a few million times already?  Yes, because a search for ‘Orkney food and wine matching’ turns up nothing at all.  So:

Eating In

Eating in: casual style

In Orkney we are blessed with superb raw materials: scallops, partans, salmon, mussels, mackerel, herring, beef, lamb (North Ronaldsay and the rest), rare breed pork, wild geese and ducks, excellent root veg (especially tatties), Scotland’s best tomatoes from up Birsay way and even a smattering of good soft fruit.  All of it local and seasonal and quite a bit of it organic too.  So here’s my food and wine matching advice:

Pop into your friendly local wine merchant, tell them what fine Orkney produce you’re having for tea, and let them suggest a bottle or two to match it.  Go home.  Cook.  Uncork.  Eat, drink and be merry.

Make a few notes about whether the matches work for you or not, or simply whether you like the wine.  I know you think you’ll remember the label, but you won’t, trust me.  (No you won’t.  You’ll chuck it in the recycling, and the memories will go with it.)  So write down the name of the winemaker, the grape variety if there is one, and whether you liked it with your steak/duck breast/crab salad/tattie soup.

Go back to your friendly local wine merchant, tell them how you liked the last bottles (which you’ll remember because you wrote them down) and discuss what you want to try next.  Repeat a success from last time, or launch a new experiment!

Eating Out
We’re also blessed here with and a good number of restaurants and more casual eateries who know what to do with Orkney’s fine raw ingredients (as little as possible, ideally.)  We’re delighted to tell you that we supply wine to many of Orkney’s finest establishments, including, in alphabetical order.


Eating out: the same food, a bit more formal

They all have their own atmosphere, their own style of cooking – and a wine list carefully chosen to complement their menu.  And written in an accessible, helpful style to steer you away from the obvious house wines – good though they are! – towards some of the more imaginative offerings.

We recommend them all warmly; if they choose The Longship as their wine supplier, then they are obviously keen on quality produce and friendly personal service.  The essential foundations of a good restaurant!

As well as our Orkney Fine Wine Festival these fine eateries offer their own special events from time to time, ideal opportunities to explore the fascinating world of food and wine matching without breaking the bank.   For instance:

Lynnfield Lux
During the winter months we are delighted to collaborate with The Lynnfield Hotel in Kirkwall to offer ‘wine and dine’ evenings called Lux: light and luxury in the winter darkness!  These usually take place on the last Friday of each month, and include a generous five course meal, plus amuse bouche and petit fours.  Where we come in is by providing an aperitif, a wine or two for each course, and a sweet wine to finish.  Each Lux features a wine theme, quite often geographical – Burgundy, Chile, Cool Climate Australia – and Duncan McLean says a few words to introduce each wine.  Dishes are carefully designed and prepared by the Lynnfield kitchen to match the wines and fit the geographical theme.  The Luxes have established themselves as firm favourites on the Orcadian social scene, with some people now booking six months ahead to reserve their table!  For details of forthcoming Luxes, look at www.lynnfieldhotel.com or phone them on 01856 872505.

Helgi’s: Grub & Grog
New for 2010 are these themed evenings at Helgi’s, Kirkwall’s newest and classiest pub.  Some might include beer or whisky, but if there’s wine on the menu, we’ll be there!  April’s evening features organic wines from France and Chile to complement delicious organic food.  Grub & Grog evenings are not a regular happening, just an occasional thing, so contact Helgi’s to ask whether anything is upcoming events: 01856 879293.  As well as the Grub & Grogs, Helgi’s has regular food and wine promotions and theme weeks, which are well worth a try.

The Commodore
Take the high road to Holm to sample some good country cooking in very stylish surroundings – overlooking the first barrier, so ideal stopping-off spot after your visit to the Italian Chapel.  As well as her regular wine list, which is small but perfectly formed, Di Grieve offers a changing selection of Wines of the Month: interesting bottles at decent prices.  01856 781 788.  www.commodoreorkney.com


The Longship

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