You know those moments when you’re on a blind date and you find yourself thinking, “This is so not going to work out”…yeah, me neither, never been on a blind date. I do have a few semi-regular customers that continuously ask me, “Are you still married?” because they have a friend that is, “perfect” for me. This coming from people that really know nothing about me, I can only imagine what kind of person they have in mind that would be perfect for me….must be some poor sap that is into being bossed around or some sad chubby chaser dude…ugh. I always assure them if my husband should either wise up of keel over, they will be the first to know. Anyway, the point being that no matter how much someone tells you that a match might be perfect, sometimes for you…it just aint.
Same thing is true of the ever desired, ever asked about, ever sought after, “perfect wine pairing”. There are plenty of books, food & wine websites, magazines and an infinite number of fancy wine aficionados that will try and give it to you. They will ooze their years of knowledge, stained palates and confit, (is there a plural of confit? What I mean is…the literal, cooked it its own fat) all over you. They mean well and I’m sure many of the suggested pairings are great, some are okay but some, well some just won’t work….for you, beauty is in the mouth of the beholder and all.
You know those people that say there has not been anything new or interesting in music since like 1963, yeah…well some wine folks, stuck in the same primordial goo. Tossing out pairings that were handed down by old English dudes so long ago that they are almost no longer relevant. Both wine and food have changed so much in the last 30 years, those classic pairings may very well still be okay or even perfect for some people but for some of us….well, there has to be something better. I’ve never been too hung up on perfect but I do truly appreciate harmony and when I look to pair food and wine, for MY palate, I look for contrast, balance and the kind of marriage of flavors that keeps me reaching for my glass…so some of those, “classic” pairings simply don’t work for me.
Pairings I Simply Don’t Get
Champagne & Caviar—Now I understand the inclination here but I think this pairing is more about the “idea”. Both things are special, a treat, decadent and caviar tastes fine when washed down with Champagne but what do those little fishy eggs do for the wine….nothing good for my palate. The caviar is too aggressive for me, kills all the finesse in the wine, masks all the delicate layers that I love in my bubbles. So maybe this is a pairing for the fish egg lover and not as much for the Champagne lover, for me…gotta go with icy cold Vodka.
Red Wine & Chocolate--- I’ve never understood this one and can only think it is much like the Caviar and Champagne deal, decadence. Same problem applies here, the chocolate may taste fine but pairing something sweet with wine does little more than rob the wine of fruit and then what is the point? I once had one customer so convinced that all red wine went with chocolate that she bought some chocolate during my Loire Valley Red Wines class. I tried to tell her that chocolate and Sancerre Rouge, maybe not so much…but she sat there munching away telling me how delicious it was, and kept trying to get me to try it…I took a tiny taste, freaking nasty and whatever delicate fruit was in that wine was destroyed…tasted sour, tart and bitter, as someone that loves and is trying to sell wine…not at all what I am looking for.
Champagne & Cake--- Well no wonder more people don’t drink Champagne, tastes like bubbly piss with cake. Why? Why do people feel the need to do this? Celebrating Granny’s 90th, sweet have some bubbles and potato chips and finish with cake. Stupid pairing, just stupid and this one I do not blame wine folks for…none of us would tell you this was a good idea.
Zinfandel & BBQ--- Had one of those butting heads moments with a staff member over this one. A woman came in looking for a wine for BBQ and he blurted out “Zinfandel” without really even thinking about it. I held back, let him do his wine sales thing and then…I fixed it. “What kind of BBQ?” I asked while ringing the woman up, “Carolina pulled pork” she responded and I grabbed the Zinfandel and put it back on the shelf…”This is so NOT going to work” I told her. Pork, which is meat but super mild, and vinegar, is so not a match for Zin, hell it’s not even a red wine friendly dish, she needed white. The whole BBQ thing is too loose a term, are you grilling or barbequing, makes a difference when it comes to pairing wine and all. I think this “classic” pairing was born with the whole, “all American” idea in mind….not unlike Zinfandel with Thanksgiving, (gag, wretch and gag), sure it’s a cute idea but…..ewe.
Gewürztraminer & Indian Food--- For me this is one of those, “way too much going on” deals. I get the idea but these two things together just crash against my palate and leave me reaching for water or tea. I crave balance and grace, this pairing has neither…kind of like having Godzilla march across my palate…veto.
Sauternes & Foie Gras--- Now I know I’m gonna get shit for this one….but I just hate this pairing. Sauternes and Roquefort I get but to pair something as rich and fatty as Foie Gras with a soft sweet wine, well it just skeeves me out, gives me the shivers and a bit like washing down a piece of fudge with a milkshake, ewe.
I’m sure I have more but I need to get my ass ready for a trade tasting, going to be tasting a crapload of Burgundy this afternoon….poor me right?!