|The two wines that worked best with the dish were Ernst Loosen's Erdener Treppchen, Mosel 2006 (£10.99, Marks & Spencer) and Heyman-Lowenstein's
Schiefferterassen, Mosel 2006 (£17.95, Berry Brothers & Rudd). The general rule was that you need wines with a fair amount of ripe fruit and a bit of sweetness (both wines were off-dry) in order to stand up to the
spiciness of the dish - but you didn't want so much fruit and sweetness that the wines overwhelmed the food. Right: Ernie Loosen atop the Erdener Treppchen vineyard.
We then moved on to slices of smoked goose with caramelised apples. Two general principles emerged here. One was that if you're dealing with the smoked goose by itself rather than with the apple slices - perhaps if you sliced it into a salad - the best kind of wine would be one with a good deal of minerality to balance out the smoky flavours. In fact, the wine that worked best had almost been eliminated in the early round, for being rather austere: Prinz's Trocken 2006 from the Rheingau (£8.99, The Winery). Factor in the sweetness of the caramelised apples, though, and you need something like the Dr Loosen Urziger Wurtzgarten, Mosel 2006 (£11.99, Waitrose).
|We then tucked into a Keralan prawn curry, where coconut milk and the sharp tang of tamarind tempered the spice. Once again, we found two wines to match the dish, Selbach-Oster's Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling
Kabinett, Mosel 2005 (£11.95, Berry Brothers & Rudd) and the St Urbanshof Ockfener Bockstein Spatlese Feinherb 2005 (£17.20, The Wine Barn). Rather surprisingly the thing the two wines had in common when tasted
by themselves was that they were both rather restrained and delicate, with a strong streak of minerality.
|A dish of simply grilled lemon sole came next and, once again, the restrained minerality of the St Urbanshof shone. It was the only wine with the delicacy not to overwhelm
the fish, and its gently off-dry character brought out the sweetness in the fish itself. It was the match of the day, and I was gutted to discover later that the Wine Barn has almost sold out of its allocation of the wine. However,
the good news is that the 2006 vintage is on its way in and should do the job with aplomb.
Flagging slightly, the next dish was the only one we bought in: a Thai seafood salad. We were so disappointed by its lack of zesty lemongrass and chilli flavours (not to mention the limpness of the salad itself) that we decided to pass. My best guess in terms of finding a match to a really zippy, aromatic Thai salad would be that a wine with a fair amount of residual sugar and lots of ripe peach and citrus fruit would have been the ideal match, but it was a theory that I was never to prove (not that day, at least).