The myth of wine and food pairings
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.