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Wine and Food Pairing Needn't Follow Classic Rule

July 15, 2007 — As I mentioned in my last column, pairing wine with food is a very personal matter. The “rules” have long said that white wine goes with fish and red wine with meat. Well, that is the classic rule, and many wine and food lovers still live by it because it is what they like. But rules are personal, and you have to set your own parameters as to what you like.
Perhaps a white wine with more personality, such as Pouilly-Fuisse would go better with a Veal Stew, or Grilled Chicken, or even a Standing Beef Rib. I have a friend who prefers white wine with everything. Never drinks red wine. White wine is their preference, and what they are eating with the wine is secondary. On the other hand, I have friends who drink Red Bordeaux almost exclusively, no matter what the meal. The point is that for many wine drinkers, it’s the wine that sets the standard, not the food.
Personally, I think being adventurous is more interesting. Many people with whom I have had the pleasure of dining, both those who are true wine experts and those who are just knowledgeable wine lovers prefer to have a great bottle of Brouilly, a red Beaujolais comprised of 100% Gamay grapes, served chilled with a Grilled Sole or Coquille St Jacques (Scallops) a la Provencal, rather than the traditional dry white wine called for by the rules.
Within red wines, I find there is more variety. Between a rich, full-bodied Bordeaux, and a lighter, fruiter Beaujolais or a Rhones there is a spectrum of tastes that can please almost any personal palate. Some people find that if they drink a red wine with seafood, they detect a slight metallic taste to the wine which they don’t taste when pairing with white wines, specifically dry whites.
My personal opinion is that it’s based on the individuals’ body chemistry. A case in point: A nutritionist once told me that if you take a teaspoon of the mineral supplement liquid zinc and you cannot taste it, you have zinc insufficiency in your body, but, if on the other hand you can taste it, you have a sufficiency of zinc. Be this true or not, this may be part of the equation of the “metallic” taste, and then, it might just be personal taste — remember, some people love mangoes, and some people don’t.
I will share with you my personal preferences:
To accompany beef, lamb and veal: A full-bodied red Bordeaux or red Beaune, such as an Aloxe Corton, or on a hot day, perhaps a lighter red Burgundy or Beaujolais served chilled, or a Cote du Rhone.
To accompany chicken, turkey, duck and pork: A lighter red such as Brouilly or Julienas, a Cotes du Rhone, or a heavier white such as a Saint Aubin or Pouilly-Fuisse.
To accompany seafood: I love a lighter chilled red like Brouilly or Julienas with all fish, but a crisp dry white, such as Macon or Sancerre are wonderful pairings.
Desert wines are generally sweeter. I have been enjoying a Cabernet d’Anjou Rosé, which is slightly sweet with deserts lately. There are more traditional sweet desert wines such as Sauternes or Monbazillac, but I think the Anjou is nicer in our warm climate.
With cheese, I have only one choice: red Bordeaux. To me, a piece of crusty bread with a slice of great cheese on it is heaven on the palate.
Then, of course, there is always the “wonderful compromise”; Rose d’Aix — in the Tropics, this is the sure bet, good as an aperitif, or with a meal, this should be our summer wine of choice.

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