We all know the old "red wine with meat and white wine with chicken or fish" rule, right? Pretty simple thing to remember, don't you agree? But it's no longer as simple as it was in the '70s when our wine choices at most restaurants were simply "Burgundy" and "Chablis."
One of the most enjoyable things about exploring wine is doing it in the context of food. It's like creating a third dimension. For example, at a recent wine tasting at Global restaurant in Charlotte, NC, Chef Bernard Brunet offered a delicious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that was quite everything that grape offers from New Zealand, bright acid and lots of vibrant, flowery and green flavors on the palate.
Now, we know that Sauvignon Blanc is generally a perfect pairing for salads with vinaigrette, seafood, Thai food, etc., but the server placed a neat shot of cold, sweet, cinnamony pureed acorn squash soup on my plate. My interest was peaked! I took a sip of the fresh, light and perfectly balanced soup, rolled it over my tongue and then, with a tiny bit of the soup still upon my tongue, sipped the wine. Amazing! The wine's acidity dropped and the vegetal qualities disappeared! The soup tasted less sweet and the squash flavor became more pure. They became the sum of each other's parts and in my mouth joined into harmonious balance. That, my friends, was a perfect example of a brilliant pairing of food with wine!
Albert W. A. Schmid, a renowned expert on wine and spirits and author of manuals for the hospitality industry advises, "If all else fails answer these three questions: Do you like the food you are eating? Do you like the wine that you are drinking? Why does this have to change? Perhaps you have stumbled on the perfect pairing between food and wine…for you. Trust yourself!"
So go out and have fun playing with your food....and wine. And don't worry if you think you might be breaking "the rules." Explore, experiment, and trust your own palate!