Thursday, 27 November 2008

Mince Pies and Wine To Listen to Carols With

What could be better than listening to the soft echo of carols whilst savouring a fragrant mince pie and a velvety rich glass of wine? Mince pies have been made since Medieval times and up until the Victorian era they did actually contain meat. The origins of the mince pie begins with the medieval pastry called chewette which was either fried or baked. The chewette actually contained liver or chopped meat mixed with boiled eggs and ginger. Dried fruits, sugar and spices would be added to the chewette's filling for variety. Nowadays the only remnant of the meat they used to contain is suet.

Oliver Cromwell actually made the eating of Mince Pies on Christmas Day illegal in the 17th century and this law has never been rescinded – so technically it is against the law to eat Mince Pies at Christmas!

Illegal or not I shall be making my own Mince Pies, drinking Sainte Hélène and singing carols this year ( I have a musical family!). Château de Sainte Hélène is the second wine of the Second Growth (2ème Cru) Château de Malle (see Discovering M de Malle). Sainte Hélène has the creamy sweet taste of honeysuckle, orange peel, apricots, cinnamon and honey.

Traditionally Sauternes are paired with desserts, crystallised fruits and chocolate but Château Sainte Hélène can accompany fish such as monk fish, prawns, scallops and sea bass as well as Roquefort cheese. Chicken is very often served with Sauternes and creamy sauces made with ginger, honey and spices bring out the fragrance of the wine. Sainte Hélène is one of my all time favourite wines. Cheers!

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