I thought I’d talk a little bit about pairing wine with food. It’s not a simple matter for some of us. It’s my job as a Sommelier to offer suggestions to guests when they ask me “What should I drink with that dish”? There are many things to consider. Should I try to match the richness of the dish with a similar weight of wine, or attempt to contrast the dish with the opposite style of wine? First of all I try to consider the nature of the guest. Do they want to remain in their comfort zone or are they adventurous? Sometimes it makes more sense to match a wine to a person, rather than a dish. I try to think of wine as a component of the entire dining experience with the ultimate goal of making the guest happy. If someone wants to drink their favorite Sauvignon Blanc with a grilled steak, who am I to say they shouldn’t? On the other hand, some guests are looking to discover something they’ve never tried before, which makes it a lot of fun. If someone says they like Champagne but would like to try something different, I might suggest they try a different sparkler, like Cava, or Prosecco. If they like California Cabernet, they might like a Spanish red (usually aged in American Oak). Those who normally drink Chardonnay, but want to try something new, might enjoy a Gewurztraminer, or Viognier. It’s always rewarding for me to see someone’s face light up with joy after tasting a wine that either confirms their expectation or involves discovering a new pleasure.
When it comes to pairing food with wine the goal is for both to taste better together than they would by themselves. There is a popular expression “If it grows together, it goes together”. Pairing regional wines with dishes from the same area is usually a good place to start. It’s also helpful to consider the weight and volume of the dish. The weight refers to how it feels in your mouth, and the volume refers to the intensity of flavor. You want to be able to taste the food while drinking the wine and taste the wine while eating the food, the two complimenting each other, without being overwhelmed by one another. You can pair to compare or contrast with a dish. For instance bitter foods, like grilled meats, can be compared with bitter (tannic) wines, or contrasted with fruity, full-flavored wines. Another thing to consider is the opulence of a dish. You might not want to open that Opus One you’ve been saving to enjoy with a hamburger. Simple food usually pairs well with simple wine. Above all I hope you have fun experimenting to find out what works and doesn’t work for you.
We will continue to offer you the opportunity to try new, interesting, delicious wines, and hope to see you dining with us and joining us for wine tastings and wine dinners.
Our Wines of the Month in October are from Alto Adige, Italy near the Dolomite Mountains. They are both from Josef Niedermayr Winery, A22 Pinot Grigio 2011 is a full, soft and dry white , and the A22 Pinot Nero 2010 is dry, rich and elegant. The Pinot Grigio will sell for $9 and the Pinot Nero for $10. Wine club members, please pick up your bottles before they are gone.