Wine & Food

Snooth User: spikedc

Wine & Food Pairing

Posted by spikedc, Apr 7, 2012.

Wine & Food pairing is now something I find myself obsessing about more and more,  I'm also begining to find out how hard it is to get it right. Maybe I've got it wrong and shouldn't worry about it too much, i find a lot of people subscribing to the philosophy of you should drink whatever you like with any food even if it goes against the so called  traditional 'Pairing Laws'.

I still see friends topping up their glasse with full bodied reds whilst eating dessert, drinking Reisling with a Steak. I think a lot of the time someone will open a bottle and stick to that no matter what they are eating.

For me though getting the balance right is important. I like to think i'm getting it right a lot of the time although there have still been some disasters but i must say the enjoyment I get from getting the right pairing makes it all worthwhile.

Yesterday I had a superb Pasta in tomato sauce with a lovely Chianti Classico, complemented each other beautifully.



Reply by Lucha Vino, Apr 7, 2012.

Hi Spike,

I find myself in the same situation.  I have mostly fallen into the drink what you like camp.  Lately I have started thinking more about what I am serving for dinner and what wine would pair well with it.

Italian wines really seem to be made for enjoying with food.  For me, Sangiovese is really food friendly!

Spanish and French wines also seem to be naturals. 

The Italian and Spanish wines have been the best QPRs for me.  How about you?

Reply by spikedc, Apr 7, 2012.

Hi Lucha,  Spanish for me is the easiest to pair. We tend to eat a lot of Spanish food at home, Stews, Paella, Choirizo which means my wine rack is never short of a botlle or two of Rioja. We also eat a fair bit of Asian food, Chinese, Curries, getting to try more Gerwurztraminer and Reislings.

The trouble I have is, when I select a wine  for a particular meal and if it's only me drinking i may not finish the bottle and have to make sure the next day the meal i have complements it as well !

Nice problem to have though !!

Reply by EMark, Apr 7, 2012.

Spike, like Lucha I am also in the "drink what you like" camp.  However, I am also very firmly in the "I like wines that match my meal" camp.  So, I am not inclined to drink Riesling if we are having a steak, and I am not likely to have a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with the Ahi Tuna that is ready to be grilled, tonight.

However, my wife, Peggy, very much prefers white wines over reds.  If we are having steak for our dinner, she may very well have white wine with it.  Who am I to tell her not to?  It's a sensory experience, not a final exam.

Regarding the left-over wine, we have not had a problem there.  The fact is that we are usually sipping wine and noshing (olives, cheeses, hummus) while we are preparing our dinners.  A very large percentage of the time that wine was left over from the previous evening's meal. 

I am in total agreement with Lucha that Italian is the most food-friendly wine.  Just my opinion, but my suspicion is that in the Italian tradition the winemakers are not trying to create blockbuster wines, and they are not afraid to leave some acid in the wine.  In spite of my bias, though, I have to say that the Spanish meals that you are preparing at home matched with the Spanish wines sound wonderful.  I suspect that there are a lot of readers here who wish they lived near you.

Reply by GregT, Apr 7, 2012.

I wouldn't worry about it too much.  It's nice when things work out but many things are perfectly OK.  Just read an interview with Marcella Hazan and her husband.  If you recall, she was kind of like the Julia Child of Italian food and published a few cookbooks back in the 1970s that I think triggered the ascent of Italian cooking until today, when it completely dominates the mind-space of Americans when it comes to food.

At any rate, they commented that Americans obsess too much about pairing wine and food.  Which is funny because when those 2 started, Americans didn't even drink wine for the most part. So they taught about having wine with food and they still have a lot to teach. He also said that while there are "great" wines, those wines aren't necessarily great for all occasions and that he generally perfers to have a Rosso to a Brunello.

Personally, as I've said before, I'm one who says to drink what you like. The Germans happen to like game.  If they're sitting down to a venison dinner, or even beef, do you think they're opening something from Napa or Bordeaux? I think most often they're having Riesling. Happens all over the world actually - rabbit stew with a cream or mustard sauce and Gamay in Beaujolais, etc. The Austrians make a lot of white wine and they drink those whites with fatty sausages and beef.

The idea of Chianti and tomato is interesting too.  I always wondered if that match wasn't partly due to the stereotype of the Italian restaurant with red and white checked tablecloths and a cheap Chianti in a straw bottle. I don't know about England but in the US, for the most part during the early and mid 1900s, Italian cuisine meant spaghetti and meatballs.  But tomatoes aren't really all that big in Tuscany so much as in southern Italy and Sicily, which makes big red wines. Moving farther north you have Barbera, which is less tannic than Sangiovese and to me, pairs better with the tomato sauce. As does aged Rioja and some Blaufrankisch, neither of which are usually considered natural pairs with tomatos. And many whites work really well too. But then I have a friend who slurps down Cab with it (and he's Italian).

Kind of rambling I guess but I'd not obsess overly much. Just enjoy the journey!  Cheers.

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