The Ultimate Food & Wine Pairing

| July 4, 2007 | 2 Comments
  • 2 Comments


Wine pairing fascinates me. Perhaps because I develop recipes for a wine retailer, I take it very seriously. I approach it as a puzzle with more than one solution. I enjoy finding at least one way to answer the question “what goes with what.”

If you read any book or guide to wine pairing, you’ll often come across a bit of advice that says something to the effect–drink what like. After that disclaimer is issued, a listing and philosophy unfolds. There are a myriad of different ways people pair wines with food. I try not to view these lists and philosophies as rules, but as guidelines or instructive stories. I imagine the author telling me “hey, one time I tried this wine with this dish and it was delicious, you might like it too.”

This week over at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Paul Reidinger wrote an article titled Porn in Pairs The best pairings are food, wine, and connections to other people. In it he mocked the obsessive accounts that sometimes take place when recommending a certain wine with a certain dish.

"Although my subscription to Annals of Wine Pornography has lapsed, I still glean the occasional fetishistic detail from other press outlets -- in particular, obsessive accounts of how this vintage of that winemaker's reserve pinot noir pairs brilliantly with a particular kind of sheep's milk cheese, left at room temperature for an hour, then smeared over some kind of heirloom fig that's been grilled, cut side up, over a medium applewood fire for six to eight minutes while the grill chef recites poetry."

I get it, because I’ve read those descriptions as well. And perhaps we’ve gone a bit too far. Recently a friend pointed out recommendations in Saveur magazine for specific wines with different cuts of steak! Ultimately, I enjoy wine pairing because it helps me to identify the nuances in food and wine, but even that is irrelevant without the right company at the table. The ultimate food and wine pairing happens when the experience of being together is enhanced. I’ll try not to forget that as I go about suggesting yet another dish to serve with Cabernet Sauvignon…

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About the Author ()

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her friends and family were constantly asking her where and what to eat. Three months after it launched, Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the top five best food blogs, praising her writing as “smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and the world. In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes restaurant reviews for SF Station. Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook reviews along with some interviews and current events. Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer. She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine. She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.
  • David

    good article, I agree witht the sentiments. wine & food matches are fun but can be taken to the extreme!

  • Rosé Membrillo

    I work a local Bay Area wine bar and wine shop and have many times witnessed the stress that some customers experience when they’re trying to find the perfect wine for a dish they have labored over. Especially if they’re cooking for discriminating in-laws. And I know how they feel, because once you feel the magic of a perfect wine and food pairing, you never want to go back. However, part of the magic in pairing is the enjoyable process of trying out different combinations of wine and food (with fun people). Stress really shouldn’t be involved with wine. When asked to reccomend the pinnacle wine for a dish our customers have created, I’ll suggest a wide variety of wines that I think will pair well with thier food and then tell them to choose what they’re most excited about tasting.

    After repetively experiencing others’ wine-pairing nervousness and wishing that I could do something to lessen the stress, I started a wine and food pairing blog. Maybe it might amuse some readers. vindelatable.blogspot.com. I talk generally about food and wine pairing. I make suggestions, but more importantly, I keep it light and always stress that what you should be drinking the wine that you enjoy, as Sheraton suggests.