In case you’ve missed it, this week is National Pie week, a celebration of what is, on the surface, a humble dish.
It’s one of those dishes that has been part of the growing number of local produce markets that pop up.
It’s also a very British dish which we take very seriously. Two years ago, the ‘make wrongly describing a casserole with a pastry lid as a pie a criminal offence’ petition earned 5,687 signatures, with people arguing that a ‘pie’ with a puff pastry lid is not actually a pie, but a casserole.
Perhaps of more interest in this column would be what to drink with your pie? There is, of course, a lot to be said for classic British ale, but here are a few wine suggestions.
Pies, which have a generally creamy filling such as chicken, or the classic fish pie, work well with Chenin Blanc or lightly-oaked Chardonnay. Leeuwenkuil Chenin Blanc 2016, Swartland (Majestic £8.99 or if part of a mixed 6 £6.99) is a lovely example of uncomplicated Chenin Blanc that South Africa is almost making its own right now. It’s very pure, with green apple and pear skin, followed by some zesty acidity and a touch of minerality and a nice fresh finish.
Something a little more substantial is Bird In Hand ‘Two In The Bush’ Chardonnay 2015, Adelaide Hills (www.tanners-wines.co.uk £12.50, www.frontierfiewines.co.uk £12.49). Bird In Hand is a new producer to me and I have to say I really like this cool climate modern take on Aussie Chardonnay.
There is a little oak here (10 per cent was barrel-fermented, which just adds a little structure to the wine) and the nose has melon, citrus and peach, followed by a nicely-structured palate with a long, crisp finish.
With steak pies I tend to look for red wines such as Rhone style, the South of France or a decent Rioja. Côtes du Rhône 2013 Guigal (Waitrose £7.99 on offer from £10.99 until 21st March) is produced by one of the region’s top producers and this is classic Côtes du Rhône, with a little bottle age. It is quite robust but very satisfying on a winter’s evening, made for a rich steak pie. Cune Reserva 2012, Rioja (Majestic £12.99 or if part of a mixed 6 £9.99, Waitrose £13.29) is classic Rioja, made with mainly Tempranillo that is aged in older oak barrels for 18 months.
There are red fruits, some roasted coffee and spices on the nose, followed by a very smooth, elegant palate with a beautifully balanced finish, perfect for the humble pie!