I’ve never fully understood the phrase “like peas and carrots”–I mean sure, it was a popular side dish back in the day, but having an immense dislike for both when I was younger always made me want to argue that they did not compliment each other unless it was in providing a companion while they were both thrown out. I’m sure you’re probably wondering why I’m even mentioning it. Well, this month’s wine writing challenge (#MWWC21)–as selected by last month’s winner Jim of JVB Uncorked–is pairing. And whenever I think of pairing the first thing that pops into my head is Forrest Gump’s thick ‘Bama accent saying “Jenny and I go together like peas and carrots.” But as an adult I find wine pairing is much, much tastier than peas and carrots. Okay for full disclosure, as a kid I probably would have found wine pairing much tastier too….because….a) it’s wine and b) IT IS NOT PEAS OR CARROTS.
Wine pairing is my favorite thing about wine. Now before you argue, let me remind you pairing wine combines wine and food. wine and food…WINE and FOOD! The only that I could think of as better would be visiting wineries because that pairs WINE with TRAVEL and if you’re lucky, meeting the WINEMAKER and quite possibly getting FOOD as well. But unless you are fortunate enough to live in or very close a wine region, you’re probably not visiting wineries very often. As such, pairing wins this debate based solely on more opportunities–like every time you open a bottle.
The amazing thing about pairing is that it brings out the flavors in both the wine and the food, with results that can be truly magical. Tragically, it can also enhance the negative flavors, like too much anise in your Amarone or overoaking in your Chardonnay. In light of that, along came basic pairing rules like “red with steak” or “white with fish” or “riesling with spicy foods.” Obviously these are not unbreakable rules, but more like guidelines because the whole point of pairing wine and food is to bring out the best flavors in each one. As our tastes are all slightly different, so too will be what we consider an amazing pairing.
If this is all new to you and you want to ask Google for help, you will be offered 413,000 article suggestions on the rules of wine pairing in 0.36 seconds. After visiting a handful of sites, I found that in terms of general guidelines FoodAndWinePairing have a really understandable set of rules. These start off with what should be everyone’s the first and foremost rule of wine drinking: drinking what you like takes precedent over “rules” of wine. Their list goes on from there for pairing wine to balance and compliment the flavor of your meal and suggestions if you are stuck. If you were looking for articles and recommendations with a bit more flair and pizzazz, then Food & Wine has a couple of articles here and here.
Of course, you have to give props to those who like to think way outside the wine pairing box and offer suggestions like pairing wine with Girl Scout cookies (sorry, I know the infographic is a bit small–click on it and you can read all about the proper GS cookie & wine pairings).
Don’t look at me like that, you’re only mad because you are still on a quest for that perfect white wine pairing for your stockpile of Thin Mints. TRY THE MERLOT!
Yes, you read that correctly: I yelled “TRY THE MERLOT!” Now, if you know me in real life or have had the pleasure–in one form or another–of listening to me rant about how I
hate strongly dislike most merlots, you’re probably thinking that I’ve suffered blunt force trauma to the head or am WWD (writing while drunk)…but no, I said it. With gusto, in caps, and an exclamation point!
For those of you who are new here or haven’t had the pleasure, I heartily dislike drinking merlots (with a very short list of exceptions) because they tend to leave a very bitter and astringent aftertaste in my mouth, much like eating cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol. I would now like to interject a clarification that I have NEVER actually eaten cotton balls soaked in alcohol, but I would imagine it tastes a lot like drinking merlot.
But then…then you add chocolate, like, let’s say a Thin Mint, and suddenly even merlot is palatable. The chocolate (real chocolate, that is–not the nasty fake white chocolate
shi stuff) really brings out the cocoa undertones that are inherent to merlots and suddenly the cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol aftertaste is magically transformed into velvety smoothness. It’s like a Christmas miracle, but any day of the year!
At this point I know you are no longer paying attention and are wondering if you still have that dusty bottle of merlot at the bottom of the wine rack and that bar of chocolate safely hidden from kidlets and spouses in a box of Grape Nuts in the pantry (you laugh, but I know someone who does that with his cookies), but before I let you go out into the adventurous world of wine pairing, The Huffington Post kindly gathered some great wine pairing suggestions from comedian Jeff Wysaski and they were just too good not to share!