Saturday, November 8, 2008

Top 5 Food & Wine Pairing Myths

"Red wine with hamburgers, white wine with fishburgers" read the greeting card my husband selected for his mother's university graduation celebration. (She went back to school as a mature student and received her undergrad degree when my hubby was 14 years old). This was his first lesson in food & wine pairing (and not a bad place to start).

However there is much more to this subject and it got me to thinking what are some of the common myths (or mistakes that I find people make) around food & wine pairing.

Myth #1: Serve big red wines with spicy foods. Wines that contain high levels of tannic acid (e.g. tannins) will actually elevate the "heat" in a dish, making it even more spicy! A great outcome for dares but not so much for dates or dinner parties.

Myth #2: Serve only white wine with fish.
Not necessarily. Despite my hubby's early pairing advice to his mother, many of today's fish dishes with interesting preparations and sauces can often warrant a delicate red. Think Pinot Noir or Gamay (e.g. Beaujolais Nouveau).

Myth #3: Champagne is for celebrations only
. Champagne is actually one of the most food friendly wines because of it's high acidity and palate cleansing properties. Serve it with appetizers or dessert to add a little festivity to your meal.

Myth #4: Sweet wines are best left for dessert. Sweet wines can be a great complement to salty dishes. For example, Sherry and Muscat go well with oysters, olives and nuts.

Myth #5: Food & Wine pairing is an exact science. While there are some guidelines and principles that can be learned and are relatively easy to follow - my favorite is when in doubt choose a wine from the region the cuisine originates from - food & wine pairing is as much art and practice.

I'm not sure that "food & wine pairing is just a big scam", but I do agree that you should learn and then experiment with your own tastes. You might be surprised that my father-in-law's favorite food and wine pairing is unsalted peanuts in the shell with a cheap chardonnay. Whatever makes you and your taste buds happy!

If you are interested in learning more about food & wine pairing, complete with lots of yummy tasting, check out Savvy Cellar's Introduction to Food & Wine Pairing class (2-night) Monday, Nov. 10th & 17th, 7-9pm.

If you get really good at food & wine pairing you may be able to stump professional sommeliers or play parlor tricks on your friends and even know how to tackle pairing wine with the dreaded artichoke!

1 comment:

Tim Hanni MW said...

Hi Jennifer - just replacing one set of myths with another set of myths. If you are ever up the Napa way let me know - I will cook you a myth-busting lunch! Like Dover sole with Cabernet. BTW, some people get a wonderous feeling similar to the Big O from hot, spicy foods and big, alcoholic wines. Seriously!! It is a reaction similar to runner's high and the best part of sex, it is a response to stimulus the brain makes releasing chemicals into the bloodstream. A pretty good percentage of people experience this phenomenon - a GREAT thing to spice up a date!