The Maze Grill Butcher's Block was buzzing if a tad noisy for delivering long lectures on the wine. So here I'll provide some information about the wines, and also some alternatives you might try at home.
Here's the (not so) skinny
Chicken sliders - a kind of posh mini burger
Salt & Pepper Squid (deep fried) & Maki Rolls (vegetable and fish sushi)
Steak and more steak - a huge selection of cuts from the UK and beyond served with various side dishes such as Spinach and Mushrooms
A selection of soft, semi soft and hard cheeses including goat and cheddar
Dessert: A Chocolate Mess (a divine mix of chocolate ice cream, meringue, chocolate marshmallow, caramel sauce and cream)
Chardonnay from Victoria in Australia (aged in oak barrels adding creamy flavours).
Riesling from Alsace in France. (Trimbach brand is available at several price points and at different levels of sweetness. This one was fully dry.)
Take care to check the alcohol levels - any less than 11% aré likely to taste a bit sweet.
Why we enjoyed it...
The creamy vanilla tones blended well with the chicken, and yet there was enough acidity to stop the fat content becoming cloying.
Full of zesty zing this played with the spice & the ton of lime fruit stood up to the umami filled soy sauce. It's very food friendly and would work well with fish and chips or Asian flavours.
The Syrah was aged and paler than normal with bags of juicy ripe blackberries and a velvety mouthfeel accompanying hints of black pepper.
The darker coloured Argentine wine was full of blackcurrant and spice, with hints of chocolate. Both had real guggability and a decent level of mouthwatering acidity so they also worked quite well with the cheese course
The nutty, toffee and fruit cake aromas and flavours enticed us, though the dry palate provided a surprise. There was good acidity to pair with the sticky cheese, but some preferred to pair the reds and even more so, what was left of the Riesling with the cheese.
A rich cherry and stewed prune sweetness with with young blueberry-like tannins, but still fresh enough to prevent a serious chocolate overdose
Do try this at home...
Budget: It's easy to get Chardonnay wrong and you'll need to work out if you like the effect of oak or prefer pure fruit. When you see a special offer, stock up on Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay (also Australian)
Alternative: Bonterra organic Chardonnay (~£12) from supermarkets. Although it's Californian, and a bit less oaky it pairs well with roast chicken dishes.
Blow out: Meursault from Burgundy will provide a similar feel but set you back between £20 and £50 retail
Budget: Riesling can be very acidic at the cheaper end of the spectrum. The best bargain I've found is Mount Olympus New Zealand Riesling (£5 from Asda, reduced from £9)
Alternative: Waitrose Alsace Riesling £9.99 will offer a similar experience
Blow out: Spending around £35+ on Alsace Grand Cru Riesling will give you a powerful experience - and you might try spending around £15 or so on a half bottle of dessert Riesling if you want something very exciting.
Budget: You'll find it hard to track down Moroccan Syrah. But if you liked this try French Syrah from Languedoc-Roussillon for bargains and if you'd like a bit more punch, try a Shiraz from Australia. You'll find some Syrah recommendations in a previous "price challenge" post, at different price points. You'll also find a cheaper Cabernet reviewed by Gallo Family Vineyards
Alternative: Waitrose sell the Clos de Los Siete for £15.99 if you want to try the same again. For a pure Malbec, the Norton Winemakers reserve is on sale at £11.99. It's a great wine with meat and has more of the chocolate and coffee tones.
Blow out: If you want to try a real Bordeaux wine to match this standard, steer away from the cheap Clarets, which may be made of softer merlot, yet still have lots of harsh tannin. Instead, ask your wine merchant to help you find a "Bordeaux classed growth". Something like Chateau Talbot will set you back from £40-£100s depending on the vintage and will also be great with steak.
Budget: Tesco Finest Amontillado is currently reduced to £4.40 for a 50cl bottle
Alternative: Waitrose Jerezana Dry Amontillado will offer a similar experience for about £10 a bottle and is also made by Lustau
Blow out: Spending a lot of money on sherry probably isn't worth it unless you're a real fan. So try the Warre's Otima 10 year old Tawny Port (around £13.50 for 50cl from many supermarkets). This will deliver many of the same cinder toffee flavours but with a lot of sweetness and freshness to provide a really fun experience
Budget: Nowhere near as sophisticated, but around £6.50 will pick you up a full bottle of Ruby Port which will match your chocolate desserts and your cheese course. For non chocolate desserts, you can pick up half bottles of dessert wine like Muscat de St Jean de Minervois which pack a lighter, orange fruity punch for as little as £6.
Alternative: Waitrose "Seriously Plummy Maury" will offer a similar experience for about £11 for a half bottle, and other Maurys will set you back a little more.
Blow out: Not typically found in supermarkets, step into your local wine merchant and ask for a decent bottle of Banyuls for a decadent dessert pairing with chocolate.