Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Over on eGullet, Fat Guy asks "Are we too matchy?"

In the restaurant world, of course, the notion of "wine pairings" -- where, for example, you get a different wine by the glass with every course of a tasting menu -- has become very popular. There is also, of course, a lot of attention devoted to pairings in the literature: long lists of what wines go best with what foods. And I was recently at a preview dinner for an international competition where the victor will be the team that creates the best match of food and sherry.

Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy a great wine pairing as much as the next guy. But have we perhaps gotten a bit carried away here? What ever happened to just drinking a bottle or two of wine with a meal? I mean, back in the day, you just chose a bottle of wine to drink with your meal. End of story. For a bigger deal meal, you chose a white and a red and at some point in the meal you switched from white to red.
As someone who really admires a perfect pairing, I'm finding the conversation is spurring me to think about my own wine drinking habits. I like wine pairings because I'm still learning about wine and they give me an opportunity to try a lot of different wines. But, as later conversation in the thread points out, with the amount some of these pairings cost, I could be buying a single bottle of something very good that I wouldn't otherwise have access to. And gain the opportunity to see how a wine develops over the course of a couple of hours and in conjunction with different foods.

Like others on the thread, I think places like Alinea are a special case. The wine service there is so good, and the pairings so exceptional, that I think the pairing option adds significantly to the experience.

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