Posted by James Hindle on

Words uttered by James Bond to Donald “Red” Grant, after the latter – who had been posing as a British agent – revealed himself to be an imposter.

From Russia With Love was released in 1963.  The world, and the wine industry, has changed dramatically in the last half century.  So does 007’s red-with-fish prejudice still apply?


Bond Grant Dinner2

Grilled Sole with Chianti?  007 is unimpressed.


Sommelier Paul Grieco of award winning New York wine bar Terroir believes the old conventions of red-with-meat and white-with-fish are obsolete. “The last time this expression held true, Nixon was still in the White House!” he told Serious Eats.

So what Red varieties would work with fish?  It all comes down to the texture of the fish:

Heavier, meatier, fish such as Tuna, Swordfish and Salmon work well with light, low-tannin, red wines such as Kiwi Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.  Light Provençal Rosé also complements such dishes.

Chianti, made from the Sangiovese grape, is a medium bodied, firm tannin, wine and best saved for another occasion.  Especially if the fish of the day is a light, delicate, fish such as the Sole ordered by Mr Bond!

Sauces can complicate the picture.  For example, fish served in a spicy curry sauce, can weather slightly heavier bodied reds, such as a fruity Australian Shiraz or a Chilean Carménère.  The trick is to avoid very high alcohol, woody, wines as these interfere with the spices.

With the correct sauces, it is even possible to serve white wine with steak!  Steak Béarnaise goes wonderfully with white Burgundy such as Bourchard Ainé & Fils 2012 reserve.

angus the bull
Angus – The Bull, a wine specifically designed for red meat.

Readers who are red-with-meat traditionalists, such as James Bond, may wish to try the recent creation of Hamish MacGowan, an Australia winemaker, who set out in 2003 to produce the perfect accompaniment to red meat.

His creation, a brilliantly titled Cabernet Sauvignon blend called Angus – The Bull, has proved hugely popular in the United States.

It is a red specifically designed to accompany a T-Bone, eye fillet or rump.  But also goes rather well with hamburgers! It is available in Singapore from PopUpWine.

James Hindle, 24/4/16

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