The Perfect Pair: Wine & Food November 18, 2013
Price doesn’t always signal quality. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a $100 bottle of wine will taste better than a $10 one, but that’s not always the case. There are many studies that have shown that in blind tastings the average consumer can’t distinguish among price points, and in many cases even preferred cheaper bottles to more expensive ones! So don’t be afraid to give that $7 bottle at your local grocery store a shot–it just might surprise you. And if it doesn’t live up, at least you haven’t sunk too much on a Wednesday night bottle.
Focus on region, not varietal. People often overemphasize the grape, but what really matters is where the grape was grown. An oaky California Chardonnay couldn’t be more different from a steely (Chardonnay-based) Chablis from France. In general, if you like sweeter, fruitier wines, go for wines from warmer wine-growing climates like California’s Central Coast, Chile, or Argentina. If you like more restrained, higher acid wines, go for cooler climates, like Oregon’s Willamette Valley, France’s Burgundy, or Austria.
Let place guide you. If you’re stumped as to what to pair with your food, think about where the food comes from. Food and wine have grown up together all over the world, and they have come to balance each other out. For instance, if you’re having a classic spaghetti bolognese (whose sauce originated in Bologna, Italy), try it with a Chianti from just up the road. Or eat your next steak with chimichurri sauce with a hearty Argentine Malbec. You can even splurge and have a glass of Argentine Torrontés for dessert!
Lastly, and most importantly, trust your palate! There is no right or wrong when it comes to wine, and all that matters is that you like it. So don’t be afraid to experiment and try wines from lesser-known regions. Why not try a Uruguayan Tannat with your lamb cassoulet this week?