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Honest Lawyer Wine Club – Published in Nelson Mail 03.02.15

In my various columns have always talked about enjoying wine with food, not only are the two things complimentary it is important we eat when we drink if we don’t want to end up falling over part way through the night. I am also a great believer in drinking less but better, in other words instead of spending $20 on two cheap bottles of very average quality wine spend that $20 on one decent bottle.

When it comes to wine and food each wine variety is better suited to enjoying with different foods, generally white wines are more enjoyable with white meat and seafood while red wines are better with red meats but working out what wine works best with which food is a matter of trying different combinations especially if the wine variety isn’t one you are familiar with. A great way to do this is let someone else do the wine and food matching for you.

On the first Wednesday of every month (excluding January and February) the Honest Lawyer pub has a degustation dinner where wines are matched with four courses of delicious food. You will probably be familiar with their English Pub style food, something they do very well, but when chef Polly is let off the leash she creates beautiful small dishes to complement the wines being served.

Each month co-owner Chris Baillie asks a different winery to present their wines at the dinner, the winery owner and chef talk about the wines being presented and then she designs a dish to pair with the wine. I went to one of these dinners in November last year when diners were treated to delights like the starter of Prawn Loukoumades with Ouzo Hollandaise and Smoked paprika Honeycomb, a second course of Smoked Beetroot Mousse with Escabeche Vegetables Pickled Apples and White Chocolate Olive Oil that proved to be the favourite dish of the night.

A main course of Lamb Baklava and a dessert course that featured Pistachio Biscuit and Candied Fennel rounded out the night. While all of these dishes were paired with suitable wines from a Marlborough vineyard Chris tries to have a local winery featured with the wines. In March his talented chef will work with the good folk at Anchorage Wines to develop a menu that showcases their wines in a way they are designed to be consumed, with delicious food.

When I met with Chris to get some background for this column he told me the dinners have been running for about four years and some people have been to every dinner, with one woman checking when the dinners are being held before she books her holidays! I reckon that at $55 a person four courses of delicious food with matching wines is outstanding value.

We sat outside in the sunshine while we talked and I was surprised at the number of people who were there at 10.30 in the morning, not drinking alcohol but enjoying a coffee. Chris said because the cycle trail goes right past the outdoor area it is a popular spot for people to stop for refreshments, it is quite a social place and is in fact so popular that he is going to have to install new bike stands, a nice problem to have.

The Honest Lawyer at Monaco is one of those hospitality establishments that really lives up to the term ‘hospitality’ and is a real gem in the Nelson wining and dining scene.

If you want to find out more about the dinners just phone them and ask to be added to the Honest Wine Club List or email

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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