Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

There Are Many Right Ways to Pair Wine and Food and Fewer Wrong Ones Than You'd Think

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

There Are Many Right Ways to Pair Wine and Food and Fewer Wrong Ones Than You'd Think

Article excerpt

Great food and wine pairings are a little like friendship: two very different characters meet and enhance one another, without giving up their individual essence. Here are a couple of particularly successful combinations that Victoria Moore's new book, The Wine Dine Dictionary (Granta), has led me towards: asparagus risotto, made with duck stock, and Larry Cherubino's Ad Hoc Straw Man Sauvignon Semillon from Western Australia; spaghetti alia carbonara, the uncritical creaminess of egg and pasta jabbed and jostled by smoked bacon, with the stunning red fruit of Coma d'En Pou by Celler Barbara Fores, in Catalonia.

Victoria herself is an old friend; we discovered wine separately but there's no question that a shared interest that blossomed into obsession strengthened our rapport. In her book, which is structured as a dictionary (look up foods in the first half to find your wine match, or grapes at the back, to decide what to eat), Moore suggests white wines with duck a l'orange: Italy's Falanghina, "which tastes of mandarins and orange blossom", or Australia's fruity Marsanne. I prefer a red, such as Fores's Grenache-based El Templari, but her choices or mine would work; there are many rights to wine pairing, and fewer wrongs than you might think. Don't combine flavours that will fight, just as at a dinner party you don't sit your socialist friends next to a college chum who has hardened into Toryism. Listen to advice, but don't let it deafen you.

As my acquaintance with different wines expands a life's project -1 learn those I want to spend more time with, and which company will show my choices to best effect. I know that too much tannin will destroy offal, because I have experienced the unpleasant taste, like dried blood, of a good Madiran (by Alain Brumont of Chateau Bouscasse) matched with liver. I have despaired as the delicate minerality of Domaine Bott-Geyl's Metiss Pinot d'Alsace fled before an earthy choucroute, the Alsatian signature dish. …

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