The pursue for perfection is the biggest enemy of uniqueness and diversity. Looking for the “perfect pairing” is what ruins the enjoyment in celebrating different types of food & wine pairings, and the journey that variety brings.
And what is perfect, anyways? Everything has flaws, but sometimes it’s the flaws that are magic! As Leonard Cohen says, “There is a crack in everything - it's how the light gets in.”
Looking and waiting for the "perfect friendship” or “perfect partnership” will ruin our appreciation of the different connections we have available to us in life. Put simply, it’s not perfection that we should look for - as it’s the uniqueness and the extra value that these connections bring! It’s these connections that create memories, open your mind, and make us feel alive.
I’m looking for the exact same thing when pairing wine and food: I am celebrating a variety of connections and more importantly the value of these connections. There is no ONE perfect pairing - there are several wines that can and will work beautifully, where each will give a different type of experience to the dining experience.
In this blog I want to celebrate this diversity and discuss how one wine works differently with three different dishes and vice-versa.
1 Wine - 3 Dishes
The Wine: Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja 2005
Faustino is one of those particularly versatile wines - mainly because of the years it spends in the bottle and the type of grape that is dominant in this wine: Tempranillo. The softening of the tannins during those years of aging, combined with the earthy notes, makes this wine extra flexible with food!
The Dish: Charred salmon with fennel, eggplants and shiso
The wine flavours become more noticeable when sipped next to a delicate dish, such as this one. Faustino adds the additional flavours of blackberry and earthiness to the experience without overpowering the dish - it just brings another element to it!
The Dish: 100 + days aged Ribeye on top of purple potatoes and popcorn sherbet.
This is where the weight of the wine is matched with the weight of the dish and they dance together in equal harmony. It is the classic traditional pairing, where the fattiness of the meat softens the delicate tannins of the wine, bringing out the red fruits and blackberry notes.
The Dish: Roasted quail and goat cheese ravioli
The wine is slightly heavier than the dish in this case, and so the earthy notes work perfectly with the goat cheese of the ravioli and bring out the freshness of the fruit that this wine entails, even though it spent all these years in a bottle!
1 Dish - 3 Wines
The Dish: Crispy chicken , tuna poke, black beans puree, caramelized apple and shaved cucumber.
The Wine: Schloss Gobelsburg, Auslese Riesling 2011
Sweet wines are rarely paired with savory dishes. But if you think about it, Coca Cola is a great pairing with popcorn (which is savoury and salty) so there is no reason to stick with the wine pairing ‘rule' that a sweet dish goes with even sweeter wine. On the contrary, many times sweet drinks with an even sweeter dish can bring an overly sugary experience that isn’t pleasurable.
You must wonder, what is it that makes sweet wine pair well with a savoury dish? The answer is: Salt, fat, and/ or spice! It balances and moderates the sweetness of the drink and creates a playful interaction. In Chef Liebmans dish, there is deep fried chicken with a touch of added salt as well as caramelized apples, which makes this pairing work beautifully.
The Wine: Louise Brison, Brut Millésime Champagne 2004
An experience with champagne is very different than an experience with a sweet wine. It will provide a more celebratory and elegant experience, where the yeasty and bready notes in this aged champagne combined with the bubbly texture create a playful textural experience on the palate.
The Wine: Domaine Lucien Jacob, Gevrey Chambertin Burgundy 2014
Pairing with the red fruit, mushroom, and earthy notes of red, this Burgundy adds another element to the food experience and another layer of complexity! If the Gobelsburg pairing was surprising and intriguing, and the Champagne pairing brought an elegant and textural playfulness, then the Burgundy brings depth and soul to the table. Lucien Jacob’s wine brings another element of flavours that elevate the level of the experience!
Exploring and tasting as many wines possible with as many dishes that you can - This is what will sharpen your senses when it comes to making wine and food pairings. There is no better way to learn than tasting for yourself, celebrating and enjoying the diversity that the wine world offers to us.