Monday, October 12, 2015

Rant: Pairing Food & Bubbly

"You don't need to be a sommelier as sparkling wine pairs with everything."
--Marcello Lunelli

Many people are unsure how to pair wine with food, sometimes following old advice which isn't fully accurate. The old saw of white wine for seafood and red wine for meat is a generalization with many exceptions, all dependent on a number of factors such as the type of seafood or meat, how it is prepared, what additional ingredients accompany it and more. For example, one major exception is Salmon which is often paired with Pinot Noir.

You first need to know that there are no set rules for food and wine pairing. You can pair anything you like, provided that is your preference. If you want to drink a delicate Chablis with a hearty prime rib, then go for it. If you want to drink a heavy Syrah with lobster, go for it. Your personal choice is never wrong. Other people might not like your pairing, but that doesn't mean your pairing is wrong for yourself.

However, there are rationale reasons, generally based on chemistry, why certain wines generally pair better with certain foods. A sommelier may understand  those reasons and can guide you with such pairings. You can read a wine pairing book and gain a better idea of those reasons so you can make pairing decisions based on those matters.

Or you can follow some very simple advice, which will allow you to pair any dish with wine. Follow the sage advice of Marcello Lunelli and choose to drink Sparkling Wine throughout your meal.

Most people drink Sparkling Wine as an apertif or as a celebratory toast. They don't realize how well it goes with so many foods so they rarely drink Sparkling wine throughout their meal. They don't drink it with their appetizer, entree and dessert. Even sommeliers rarely seem to recommend Sparkling Wines throughout a dinner. Wine lovers need to get over their misconception that Sparkling Wine is mainly a before dinner drink. They need to take the chance and drink it with whatever they choose to eat, from seafood to steak, pasta to Chinese food. It may be one of the most versatile wines when it comes to food pairings. And it can be so delicious.

When I visited Champagne, I had it paired with nearly all of my food courses for lunch and dinner, and I found that Sparkling Wine is very food friendly and you really can't go wrong selecting it for your meal. No matter what the cuisine, Sparkling Wine would be a fine accompaniment. Marco Lunelli said that his favorite pairing with his Brut Rosé was pizza. When is the last time you had pizza and Sparkling Wine?

The price of Champagne can be daunting to some, but there are plenty of other, less expensive Sparkling Wine options, from Crémant d'Alsace to Franciacorta, Cava to Prosecco, and much more, You can afford Sparkling Wine for a casual dinner and I urge you to experiment with food pairings. Grab a bottle of bubbly and drink it with whatever you are eating. You'll be surprised at how good it tastes with your food. And if you have guests, they'll think you are a wine genius for pairing bubbly with all the dishes.


Andrew Witter said...

Great post...Champagne/Sparkling Wine is soooo overlooked as a food wine. Thanks for taking the plunge to give bubbly the food credit it most certainly deserves. Many food/wine writers have avoided this subject far too long. And, there are so many affordable choices in today's wine world.

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks Andrew! Next time you are around, we'll have to share some bubbly with dinner.