Wine pairings, no longer by the book.

Temecula Lunch300

Wine pairings, no longer by the book.

The thing I love most about the gym is catching up on podcasts.  This morning I was listening to a great Splendid Table podcast and Lynne was speaking with Matt Kramer abut his new book On Wine.  He was discussing wines of fear and wines of conviction.  The difference between wines created for the market that could be from anywhere and the wines that are created out of conviction for a place or a grape that express so much more and can be so exciting and different.

This got me thinking about pairings and pairing apps.  Recently I spoke about the night and day Pinot Noirs that we tasted on our last trip.  The Bien Nacido Pinot’s that are rich and savory and full of fantastic barnyard (and yes this brett is fantastic!) and the glorious elegant Pinot we tasted at Carhartt which was floral and elegant but beautifully layered.  These didn’t seem to be the same varietal!  I think back to our trip to Portland and tasting at Erath where they do a bottling with the same varietal from three different sections of a row and they are all different!  There is so much variety in wine, that’s the amazing beauty of it, so how can we have a wine app that tells us that Pinot Noir pairs well with Salmon?  It seems so limiting and uncreative.

I am of course a huge fan of the Mayo Family Reserve room.  There the pairings come from the wine.  They taste the wine and determine which foods will pair well.  I remember Max (a previous chef there) saying that they would drink the wine and see what foods they wanted to eat with it.  Brilliant!  So really…you cannot pair a type of wine with a food, well you can but that is just too basic for me.  I think that wine pairing suggestions must come from the winery or from a chef who has tasted that wine.  The pairings have to be for the individual wine and vintage, not from just what varietal it is.

I am often frustrated in restaurants.  I think I have mentioned this before, when a server has no suggestions for a wine pairing.  I feel that if you are a restaurant that serves wine, you should be able to pair your dishes with one or two of the wines you are serving.  I suppose I am too much of a wine geek dining in restaurants without sommeliers.  Ah well.


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Robin Renken
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