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Tag Archives: wine and food pairings

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

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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?

The myth of wine and food pairings

The myth of wine and food pairings

You must drink big red wine with beef — or else!

Wine and food pairings are wine’s version of Greek mythology. It’s the solution to all of the wine industry’s problems, even though – like Apollo’s oracle – pairings don’t mean all that much to the vast majority of wine drinkers.

This is not to say that wine and food pairings aren’t legitimate, because certain food tastes better with certain wine, and there is scientific evidence to support that. What it does mean is that, for most consumers, they aren’t important. You can see more about this here. And here.

This has made such an impression on me that I’ve pretty much given up on wine and food pairings (though I’ll still suggest them). The cheap wine book goes into detail, but what it comes down to is this: If I tell people it’s OK to drink what they want, then why I am telling them what to drink it with? All I ask is that wine drinkers be open to the concept of pairings and give them a try. If they don’t like them, that’s fine, too. As my brother says, “I like big red wine. Why can’t I drink it when I want?”

Nevertheless, many in the wine business see wine and food pairings as the key to increasing wine consumption in the U.S. (this being one of the most important exceptions). This approach shows up regularly in studies and white papers, and most recently in what was an otherwise outstanding effort to help the industry figure out how to get Hispanics to drink more wine.

But the report, issued by Rabobank, has this line: “What support will be given for pairing wine with Hispanic food?” Forget the practicalities – what exactly is Hispanic food, given that Hispanics come from dozens of countries and they even eat non-Hispanic food? More importantly, it also ignores the point that most consumers don’t care about pairings and that pairings are especially intimidating to new wine drinkers. So how will that help lure Hispanics into wine?

Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really paying attention when they write these things.

Winebits 237: Wine scores, wine auctions, wine pairings

Decanter goes to 100-point system: Decanter, the British wine magazine, will start scoring wines with the 100-point system in its annual buying guide. “Introducing the 100-point system is essential as Decanter is now a global magazine with more than half its readership outside the UK,” said the magazine. This is shocking news, not only because Decanter is giving in to something that continues to lose favor, but because it has always been the most sensible of the Winestream Media (for what that’s worth). The reason for this, I think, is the Chinese market, which has everyone in the wine business salivating (though there is no truth to the rumor that a Chinese language Wine Curmudgeon will soon launch – the Wine jué lǎotóu). The Chinese may not understand the Decanter review, but they’ll recognize the 100-point system – another of the legacies the U.S. has given the world, like fast food and Coca-Cola.

Wine prices slump: Those investments in fine wine continue to look like Florida swamp land. Wine sales at the world’s top five auction houses were down 25 percent in the first half of 2012, which coincides with the slump in the fine wine stock market. I mention these things not because it’s actually important, but because anyone who buys wine as an investment instead of drinking it — it's the world's best wine, after all — deserves whatever happens to them. Which, frankly, I kind of enjoy watching.

Vegetarian food: It’s summer, it’s hot, and we’re eating lighter, which includes vegetarian meals. My pal Dave McIntyre looks at the difficulty of finding wine to go with vegetarian dishes, since it would seem to exclude red wine. Writes Dave: “On the whole, I’d say don’t sweat it so much and feel free to experiment.” One key – choose wines from cultures, like Greece and Italy, that do a lot of vegetarian food.

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