Big wine and Big food – Wine Advisor
I generally stick with the keep-it-simple policy in matching big food and big wine. After all, humans have been making wine for 7,000 years or more, and throughout that history, we’ve fashioned it as an ideal beverage for the dinner table.
It bothers me that an overly finicky, demanding approach to the quest for a perfect wine-food match saps the fun out of wine appreciation. Perhaps even worse, this attitude sets a high barrier tagainst entry for those who’d like to learn more about quality wine but fear that it’s too complicated and prefer to avoid the embarrassment of a public display of ignorance.
My advice: Pull up a chair, pull out a cork (or pop a screw cap) and enjoy! big wine go with most foods most of the time, and if you choose to defy “the rules” by having a Chardonnay with a rare steak or a Shiraz with Dover sole, it’s not going to be toxic or even unpleasant.
Sure, getting into serious wine and food matching can lead to some delicious combinations, and ignoring the conventional wisdom can lead you to some odd combinations. But why should wine be any different than food? Most of us would instinctively avoid serving pickles on ice cream, or chocolate-covered chicken (with a strong exception for Mexican mole there), without worrying about learning complicated rules governing which foods may be partnered on one plate.
The best rules, again, are the simple ones, subject to nuances that you figure out for yourself based on what you’ve tried and liked. Toss out that Book of Wine Dogma. It will only mess you up.
I’m thinking about my dinner the other night with an Argentine Malbec, the 2010 offering from Kobrand Corp’s “The Seeker” portfolio. I’ve enjoyed other “Seeker” wines including the Pinot Noir, so I was a bit surprised to crack this one’s screw cap and find a big (14.5% alcohol), oaky and fruity “international-style” big wine.
This is a style that many enjoy, including some of the Big Name critics, but I tend to veer away from these bruisers in favor of more subtle Euro-style wines. At this point, though, it was time for dinner and the bottle was open, so I wasn’t about to waste it.
What’s more, Kobrand’s fact sheet specifically recommended experimentation! “Perfectly matched to cured or grilled meats, game, Cajun and Indian-style foods, and tinkering with creations…never mind the crash.” That’s an attitude that I like.
As a matter of fact, I had an Indian-style dinner under construction, or Turkish-style to be precise, but who’s looking? The summer’s first eggplant and tomatoes from the garden had gone into a dish of Imam Bayildi, a garlicky, robust Southwest Asian treat that ought to match up with a big red at least as well as spaghetti with tomato sauce would.
Indeed, it was perfectly, um, okay. On a close analysis, though, the wine’s potent alcohol came across with almost a vodka-like whiff that overrode the subtle veggie scents, and its forward black and blue berry fruit shouted down the eggplant and tomato flavors like trumpets drowning out the strings in an orchestra concert. (This may help explain why there are no violins in a marching band.)
So, how about some cheese? After dinner we broke out a chunks of Sapori d’Italia Noce, a Tuscan-style Kentucky goat cheese studded with bits of walnut. Now we’re talking. The creamy fat in the cheese seemed to coat the palate in a way that pulled a velvet glove over the wine’s raw power, and the combination made the second glass more pleasurable than the first. At 14.5% alcohol, there wasn’t going to be a third glass.
Moral of the story? If I had been obsessed with food pairing, I probably wouldn’t have served a huge Malbec with Imam Bayildi. But why worry? Dinner was fine, and I got a few more mental notes about what works and why. You’ll find my wine tasting report below.