Monday, January 29, 2007

Adventures in Wine and Food Pairing

I like to think I know a little something about wine but where I fall flat on my face is when left to my own devices for pairing wine and food. I know the basic rules of thumb like (1) White with Fish and Red with Meat and (2) its ok to break rule number one.

I tend to follow the 2nd rule and just order a wine I think I’d like and hope for the best. Following this line of thinking works about half the time.

A perfect case in point is a recent experience at one of my local restaurants called Farm on Adderley in Ditmas Park – Brooklyn. The restaurant itself has tasty food and I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of the several times I’ve eaten there. However, I have yet to be blown away either.

My wife and I decided to sit at the bar last Thursday and after perusing the menu, I ordered a seafood ragu in a red sauce while Tahirih ordered a lamb and pasta dish. Bother were specials.

For the wines, I ordered a NV Pinot Noir from Touraine in the Loire Valley region of France. It was $10 a glass or $38 a bottle, not exactly a bargain, especially for a non-vintage wine but I was curious.

It was cherry red in color with a raspberry nose. Actually more like candied raspberry. It was on the taste as well along with maraschino cherries. All fruit, syrupy texture, and a short finish. My point here…. I can’t recommend this wine and I was extremely disappointed at $10 a glass. Worse yet, what should have been a decent Pinot and red-seafood dish pairing was one of the worst combos I’ve ever had.

That was the miss. My wife on the other hand picked a winner with a 2001 Rioja-Crianza from Bodegas Saenz de Santamaria in Spain. This was $9 a glass and $28 a bottle. Brick red in color with bright red fruit. Spicy nose mixed in with a little oak. Smooth texture and a medium finish. My only knock is that it was a tab out of balance between the bright fruit and the acidity. It’s a great food friendly wine and at $28, a very good restaurant price. I’d give this a solid B score versus a D- for the Pinot.

That’s my latest adventure in food and wine paring but I got Andrea Immer’s “Everyday Dining with Wine” and will be studying up for my next restaurant trip.

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