Monday, July 19, 2010

Daring Pairings for Your Grape Adventures

I know that there is no such thing as a "correct" wine pairing, and that the only thing that really matters is what works for your tastebuds. Nevertheless, I do enjoy the alchemy of good wine and food pairings--that semi-mystical thing that happens when the two hit it off perfectly.

Many of us have figured out over time what favorite foods work with our favorite wines: oysters with Champagne, Gewurztraminer with Thai food, Merlot and hamburgers. But what do you serve with Arneis? How about Xinomavro? If you are into grape adventures, and often pick up wines made with unfamiliar, unpronounceable grapes then you are left in the kitchen contemplating a wine you've never tasted before and wondering what to eat with it.

Enter Evan Goldstein and Daring Pairings (University of California Press, $34.95; available on and at other retailers for $23 and up). The subtitle reads "a Master Sommelier matches distinctive wines with recipes from his favorite chefs" and this book delivers on that promise.

I'm a member of the Wine Century Club, so I'm always on the hunt for new grapes. Many of my favorites are profiled in this book from the increasingly common (Albarino, Malbec, Tempranillo) to the still rare (Trebbiano, Tannat, Aglianico). The book is arranged in two sections (white grapes, red grapes) and then alphabetically by grape. Each grape gets an excellent, readable description, cheese pairing advice, and a tasty recipe.

In some pairing books that include recipes from chefs, the recipes are so complicated you never get around to making them. Not so this book. I immediately made a terrific pasta dish dreamed up by the Union Square Cafe's Michael Romano with asparagus, prosciutto, and roasted peppers to accompany that wonderfully weird Bordeaux I had last week. A few days later, I made Charlie Trotter's salad of Cornish game hens with Shitake Mushroom Vinaigrette. Both were delicious, neither was too complicated--and were wonderful with the recommended wines.

I highly recommend this book. It's fun to read, and Goldstein wears his obvious expertise lightly. There is nothing intimidating about this book, but it still offers new wisdom to wine enthusiasts who know a little bit about wine. It's fun to go to the wine store with a list of funky grapes you now want to try. And it's fun to head into the kitchen to whip up a sophisticated dish to go with your first sip of Txakoli, confident that the two will taste great together.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book.


Mr. Kid said...

Yum. So glad I found your site. Great blog! This one is not good!

David said...

Sounds like a good book. I believe I've had Arneis with pesto if memory serves correctly.