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Enough with the wine and food pairings already, because you’re not helping the cause

The Wine Curmudgeon’s thoughts about pairing wine and food have evolved significantly over the past decade. I still think pairings are important, but if you don’t like big red wine, what’s the Read More »

wineofweek

Wine of the week: Root:1 Pinot Noir 2012

Today's wine of the week is another lesson in tasting the wine before you judge it. Regular visitors will remember the Wine Curmudgeon's ambivalence toward Chilean pinot noir until I was forced Read More »

winenews

Winebits 330: Cheap wine, more cheap wine, and corrupt wine writers

Bet you never thought you’d see cheap wine in a headline with corrupt wine writers: • Nothing more than $10: That’s the verdict of the British wine drinking public, where 80 percent Read More »

winereview

Expensive wine 61: Adelsheim Elizabeth’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

The Wine Curmudgeon has long lamented the state of pinot noir, in which much of the expensive stuff doesn’t taste like pinot any more. And that the expensive stuff is way past Read More »

Winebits 321: NeoDry edition

Cash makes a much better bribe than wine

The Wine Curmudgeon, who spent part of his newspaper career writing politics and grew up in Chicago, thought he knew a few things about corruption. How could anyone not learn from Illinois Read More »

Enough with the wine and food pairings already, because you’re not helping the cause

winerant
wine and food pairings

Since you don’t have any cheese, I assume you don’t have any wine pairings either?

The Wine Curmudgeon’s thoughts about pairing wine and food have evolved significantly over the past decade. I still think pairings are important, but if you don’t like big red wine, what’s the point of telling you to drink big red wine with certain food? All I ask is that you’re open-minded enough to consider pairings and don’t dismiss them as more wine foolishness.

Having said that, it’s not easy for wine drinkers — and even the most experienced among us — to keep an open mind. That’s because the wine business insists on overwhelming us with pairings that are at best impractical and at worst silly. How can we be expected to take pairings seriously when so many suggestions have so little relevance to what we really eat?

For example (all taken from fact sheets and back labels):

 • A $10 Chilean pinot noir with paella. This is not to denigrate the Spanish classic (though I’ve never been able to master it), but to note that most of us will never taste paella. So why would anyone suggest it as a pairing, and especially for an every day wine?

 • A high-end Napa Valley sauvignon blanc with “any fresh well-made cuisine.” Because, of course, the alternative is so appealing: Pairing a wine with any stale, poorly-made cuisine.

 • A $10 Argentine cabernet sauvignon with “of course, our traditional Argentine asado.” I do this for a living, and I had to look up asado (which is lots of beef grilled outdoors over a wood fire). So how is anyone else supposed to know what it is?

The best way to do this? Keep it simple, like Gallo did with its 50th anniversary $7 Hearty Burgundy: chili. Which would work, by the way. Or even, as Rodney Strong does, leave them out, since no suggestions are better than silly ones.

More on wine and food pairings:
The myth of of wine and food pairings
Pairing wine with fast food
Wine and food pairings: Do they matter?

Wine of the week: Root:1 Pinot Noir 2012

wineofweek

Wine of the week: Root:1 Pinot Noir 2012Today's wine of the week is another lesson in tasting the wine before you judge it. Regular visitors will remember the Wine Curmudgeon's ambivalence toward Chilean pinot noir until I was forced to taste it last summer; in addition, Root:1 wines have rarely impressed me, being inconsistent more than anything else.

Nevertheless, I tasted the pinot noir ($10, sample, 13.5%) with an open mind, because that's what I'm supposed to do. And guess what? The wine was worth the effort. It's light, fruity (some sort of red berry?), and balanced, without any of the excesses that plague other $10 pinots -- like adding syrah or grenache -- to make them taste fruitier and heavier. And, blissfully, the tannins were more or less what they were supposed to be.

It's not exactly pinot noir, lacking the earthiness and subtle of great pinot. In this, it tastes more like Beaujolais, which seems to be the case with a lot of $10 pinots from South America. But it's clean, food friendly, and a fine value for $10 -- so fine, in fact, that it merits consideration for the 2015 $10 Wine Hall of Fame.

Winebits 330: Cheap wine, more cheap wine, and corrupt wine writers

winenews

Winebits 330: Cheap wine, more cheap wine, and corrupt wine writersBet you never thought you’d see cheap wine in a headline with corrupt wine writers:

Nothing more than $10: That’s the verdict of the British wine drinking public, where 80 percent of the wine sold costs £6 (about US$10) or less a bottle. And less than seven per cent are willing to pay more than £10 (about US$17) for a bottle.This doesn’t surprise the Wine Curmudgeon, of course, who has long been an Anglophile, complete with Tom Baker Dr. Who videos, a Winston Churchill poster, and a London Underground coffee mug. And it shouldn’t surprise any intelligent U.S, wine drinker, who has followed the blog or seen the most recent Wine Market Council study (which found that even the richest wine drinkers buy cheap wine). But you know the wine business — someone, somewhere will claim it’s all a lie, and we’re actually drinking $25 wine that gets a 93. Nuts to them. I want some of the £4 Adli rose in the article in the first link.

Even the experts love cheap wine: A tip of the WC’s fedora to visitor Julia B., who sent this to me: Some of the hippest winemakers in the business drink wine that shows up on the blog. Like the Little James Basket Press red and whites. Like the Muga rose (recommended by a guy who used to make a $20 rose). This demonstrates two things: That people, when paying their own money, are fussier about what they buy, and that the quality of cheap wine — as preached here so many times most of you are probably sick of it — has improved dramatically.

The Chicago way? Last week’s post about wine as bribes turned this up: That a French author claims her country’s wine critics are regularly bribed and that winery ratings are influenced by “surreal criteria,” such as parking spaces. And you think we had disagreements over scores in the U.S. Isabelle Saporta writes in “VinoBusiness (Albion Michel, $23.75)” that the French wine business is a “cruel, medieval micro-society” where powerful chateau owners care more about profit than wine and that French critics write favorable reviews in return for cash. One, says Saporta, allegedly demands US$7,000 for writing nice things about a producer’s wine — something I do for free. It’s hell to have ethics, no? Think of all the white Burgundy I could buy with a glowing review of crappy cheap wine.

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