Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Food and Wine Pairing: It's Not Rocket Science

As we approach the hysteria that is Thanksgiving, it is always good to remind oneself and those you love that food and wine pairing is not rocket science.

It should be a highly pleasurable process of trial and error that no one can really do for you because taste is a subjective thing. You may love pizza with chardonnay, even though this breaks almost every "food pairing rule" that I know. I don't; but you just might.

If you still fee that wine and food pairing IS rocket science, there is a new company that wants to help you: Wine That Loves.... Their lineup of wines that love grilled meat, pizza, salmon, chicken, and pasta promise to solve your wine and food pairing dilemmas for all time--provided of course, that you are serving one of these dishes and can manage to master the eye-catching graphics that lead you to the right wine for tonight's dinner. Each wine has been carefully selected to pair with a certain food by a sommelier, and is priced at $12.99 to make it affordable for everyday drinking. Ralph Hersom, who has the distinction of being the former wine director for New York's Le Cirque 2000 restaurant, is the sommelier who figured out which wines would love which dishes.

While this may cut some anxiety in the grocery store, I remain skeptical of this approach to something as marvelously fun and fabulously imperfect as wine and food pairing. Call me a cynic, but if you believe that a) wine pairing is not rocket science and b) part of the fun of wine is figuring out what combinations taste good to you then this lineup will actually keep you from learning about good wine and food pairings. I was not able to figure out what varieties of grape went into any of these wines, as it was not clear from the website or the labels, but I sure hope that they tell you on the back because otherwise how will you be able to apply the knowledge gained from knowing what wine loves pasta to the wine store, the restaurant, or your own kitchen after you pop the cork on one of these bottles?

Taste is subjective. Celebrate your own unique taste buds. Drink red wine with fish. Break rules. Practice wine disobedience. Learn things. Do some wines taste better with certain foods? Absolutely. The search is on. Discover your wine and food bliss. And if you want a real education in these matters, check out Dr. Vino's periodic impossible food and wine pairing challenges. They are wonderful evidence that there is no perfect food and and wine pairing--except for your tastebuds.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, those wines are weird to me. What if you have chicken on your pizza? What if you're topping your flounder with Bechamel? What if your steak is tartare?

Your idea is much better, Dr. D: wine you love + food you love = happy mouth!

Sonadora said...

Not sure they want you to discover other wines....more like, keep buying their's or else the whole marketing scheme would fail!

Marcus said...

If I'm grilling salmon I'm reaching for the red wine that's straight-forward and full of fruit flvaours. Would rarely think of white wine with most grilled food.

Anonymous said...

I wrote about these wines earlier this month too and feel the same as you. And I could not find any indication anywhere as to what the wines are or where the grapes are grown (though I will assume California). I think it's so important to know and understand what you are drinking so you'll learn WHAT and WHY certain wines pair well with certain foods.

Dr. Debs said...

Carol, I couldn't agree more. I suspect Sonadora is right: they don't want you to know what the wine is because then you could drink somebody else's wine instead!

Jeff said...

Remember Garanimals? The kids clothing line that had a picture of an animal on the tag? As long as you match the animals, you're outfit would match. That's what this wine makes me think of.