Stephen Barrett - Wine review


Extolling the virtue of Sunday Lunch plus a few sound wine tips.

One might say the English Sunday Roast has been with us since the middle ages when the ‘peasants’ who fed the Squire of the Manor for six days were rewarded with a feast of Ox from the spit - after practicing their combat skills – as a sort celebration of ‘ownership’. Fast forward to the 18C when the peasant had become a tad more independent and had more access to cuts of Beef, Pork, Venison and Sheep. These favoured cuts were usually placed in the oven of the range on Sunday morning after which vegetables were later added cooking merrily whilst they all dressed up and went to Church or Chapel. On return gravy was made and the late Sunday Lunch began.

Variations in the regions created different cuts of meat to suit the occasion, not forgetting the ubiquitous Yorkshire Pudding to mop up the heavenly gravy and vegetables or in some cases devouring it at the beginning or even at the end of lunch (as a pudding) of this most ritual of English feasts!

Today we keep to these traditions and indeed it has been exported successfully throughout the old Empire and Commonwealth somewhere in the world!

Classically the Roast Beef of England usually gets the top vote so with that in mind I will major on its virtues and suggest some wine that might just suit.

My all-time favourite cut is Sirloin of Beef – so knighted by one of our noble monarchs, but which one? James I, Charles II or Henry VIII are all in the mix for ‘knighting’ the Loin of Beef as a grand gesture of appreciation. 

We will never know which one was so magnanimous but what we do know is the Sirloin is without a doubt the tastiest and perhaps the less complicated of cuts to cook? There are no other cuts that are able to be served Rare, Medium of Well-cooked with a little knowledge about timing and heat.

But what wine is (so-called) perfect with this noble cut? It is probably safe to say that cooking Sirloin up to Medium is where we are aiming our wine selections at!

Bordeaux Rouge or Claret immediately comes to mind as the often light tannic structure of this kind of cassis-driven red wine – especially in its youth – is often ‘tamed’ by the free-proteins of the juicy red meat of the lighter-cooked Sirloin. 

Younger Claret (up to 5 years of age) is a joy with Sirloin whether from the right-bank (Saint Emilion) which is Merlot dominant or the left-bank (Medoc) which is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, both offer immeasurable pleasure. 

Many Clarets are moderately priced and represent a great way to start collecting – and ageing a few years – as opposed to the uber-expensive and undoubtedly lovely Cru-classe wines from the great houses. 

You might wish to search for Cabernet Sauvignon dominant reds from other parts of the wine world perhaps a quality one from California, Australia, South Africa should fit the bill but my choice for everyone would be this beautifully-constructed Prelude 2016 from Chateau Haut Peyrat a Bordeaux Superior created with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2016 (vintage) has now opened up into a delicious fruit-driven wine but still with the youthful exuberance of a silky tannic structure redolent of a wine in development. Expect to pay around £15.00 from on-line wine merchants including or go to your Independent Wine Merchant for a taste or suggestion of a similarly-styled Claret.  


Stephen Barrett is a Wine, Food and Travel Writer based in Plymouth. Find Stephen on Twitter and Instagram as @bistrowineman or Facebook and LinkedIn as Stephen Barrett  ​