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Monday, April 5, 2010

Food & Wine

(this is a third post in a series of posts on wine tasting. The second in this series A Nose Is A Nose 3-16-2010 and the first Wine Tasting At First Sight 2-13-10)

Food and wine pairings are a dichotomy-they are either too simple or too complex. Food and wine are meant to be savored since one enhances the other.
The basic idea is to fuse two flavors to create a third, as simple as that. I think that the only wrong choice of food and wine is serving no wine at all. Wines follow a natural progression. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when planning a large multicourse meal. This is a favorite verse to remember which comes first:
Old before Young
Dry before Sweet
White before Red
Light before Full 
Simple before Complex 
Champagne anytime and with anyone!
Wine and cheese..what can I say? Its like peas and carrots, George and Gracie, a wink and a smile. Soft cheeses are usually creamy and milky in texture so they can be served with demi-sec Champagne, Moscato di Asti, Riesling and Sauternes. Hard cheeses pair well with reds due to the fat and protein content softening by the tannins of the red wine. Bordeaux,Cabs, Barolo (my personal favorite) Burgundy, Merlot or Barbaresco. They pair well with fresh meat, sausages and breads. If you would like to serve a white, stay on the heavier side with a Chardonnay, Viognier, Meursault, or even a full bodied Blanc de Noirs Champagne. Blue cheese pairs well with sweet wines. The powerful flavor of the cheese dominates dry white wines while their creaminess cannot stand up to the light tannins of medium bodied red wines. Sauternes, Moscato d'Asti, Vin Santo, Greman Kabinett and the classic match of Stilton Bleu and Port (I always serve almonds with this) For a red, try Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Dolcetto. Goat cheeses go well with crisp young whites or reds such as Savignon Blanc, Sancerre, or Chianti and Sanviogese. (I serve with toasted buttered baguette slices)
Picnic or grilled food over charcoals can be paired well with wines that have a lower body and alcohol content due to the warmer temperatures of outdoor parties. Try Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Alsace for whites. Beaujolais, Grenache, and although I haven't paired these myself yet, I am told that a slightly chilled red wine from the Rhone Valley or Languedoc-Roussillon are perfect for a beach picnic.  I like a light freshly mixed Sangria for outdoor functions. 
Meat and fish cooked over charcoals require a somewhat heavier body. I like Syrah or Pinot Noir with grilled hamburgers. Bordeaux or Zinfandel with steak. Grilled fish can be served with Chardonnay (One favorite pairing of mine especially when oak is noted in the wine, it pairs nicely with smokey overtones in grilled food including grilled portobellos or vegetables) 
Dessert wines are ,to me, the "nectar of the gods". They pair well with alot of startes such as foie gras and various pates. (I pair these wines with Thai and Szechwan food). Dessert wine rules are easy-match the color of the wine to the dessert. Deep dark desserts will go best with dark dessert wines like Port or a lesser known wine Banyuls. Lighter colored dessert wines match better with fruit desserts. There is always the option of choosing a dessert wine as the dessert.
Here's to the warm weather and good friends sharing good things. Cheers!