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Giant water bugs go best with a dry sherry, says the Laithwaite's wine-pairing guide. Image: Laithwaite's

Giant water bugs taste like sweet scallops (though you'll get a hint of anise as you bite into the head), so pair them with a wine that can stand up to strong flavours. A dry sherry, perhaps. And if you're sitting down to a hearty meal of sago worms (the grubs of the Asian palm weevil), uncork a meaty red that complements their distinctive bacon flavour.  

Those are just some of the recommendations you'll find in a wine-pairing guide for insect dishes from British wine merchant Laithwaite's. And with supermarket chains, the world's top restaurants and even the UN's food body urging us to embrace entomophagy, we've got to give it to them for tapping into the culinary zeitgeist. 

Beth Willard, a Laithwaite’s wine buyer, says: “On average each buyer will try over 10,000 bottles of wine a year across the world, but we never envisaged making our final selection with insects in mind. There’s clearly a growing appetite for them.”

According to a voluminous 2013 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, insects could be the world's nutritional panacea a healthy and plentiful food source for the world's growing population (in fact, around two billion people are already tucking in). What's more, substituting that filet mignon with some garlic chapulines (you'll want to pair those with a nice dry Champagne) has major environmental benefits too.

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Pair some "nutty" mealworms with a viognier. Image: Laithwaite's

And if insects have crawled their way onto our dinner plates for good, then Laithwaite's wants to make sure we know how to pair the critters with the cabernet. "... [W]e have taken our taste buds to the extreme, exploring new territories in wine pairing and discovering the perfect wines to accompany a whole range of insects. Each sustainably sourced bug was rigorously tasted and paired with one of our 1,000 wines," Laithwaite’s says on its blog.

Water bugs and sago worms aside, the guide also urges adventurous diners to reach for a viognier when snacking on "nutty" mealworms (the larval form of the mealworm beetle). And there are wine options for arachnids, too. Asian forest scorpions call for a full-bodied pinor noir. And grab a chardonnay if you're sampling the "fishy" flavours of a tarantula. 

“When you consider that many of the words used to describe the aroma of wine  earthy, grassy, floral  can also be used to describe the bugs’ habitats, it’s no surprise that wine can really complement the distinctive tastes of insects. The word ‘full bodied’ will never be the same!” says Willard.

All that's left to do is finish off with some chocolate-dipped locusts, washed down with a glass of something sweet and fruity. 

Top header image: Matt, Flickr