Re: Advice for a novice
Despite the fact that we've both earned sommelier certificates (Andrew via the Sommelier Society of America, and Karen through the Court of Master Sommeliers), we're all
"novices" when it comes to the vast subject of wine -- in that there is so much to be known that none of us can possibly know it all. So take comfort in the fact that even the professional sommeliers in the restaurants you frequent have trouble keeping up with the subject!
However, you can expect that a restaurant's sommelier will have better mastery over his/her wine list (not to mention the chef's menu) than most, and it's certainly a good place to turn for guidance.
Know what your priority is going in to a restaurant experience. As chefs, it's often experiencing the food. On the other hand, wine lovers might be there to enjoy a particular bottle of wine, and wonder which dishes on the menu will best accompany it.
Because the starting point can be either the food or the wine, we've organized our latest book WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT
the same way: Look up any cuisine, dish, herb, ingredient or spice, and discover some ideas for what to drink with it. Or, look up any beverage (from wine to beer to spirits to non-alcoholic drinks), and get tips on what foods will best accompany it.
As for very general "rules of thumb" to keep in mind, here are a few:
- Riesling is the most food-friendly white wine.
- Pinot Noir is the most food-friendly red wine.
- Gewurztraminer is the most cheese-friendly wine.
- Moscato d'Asti is the most dessert-friendly wine.
- When in doubt, drink Champagne!
Once you're ready to master a few more rules, you can turn to WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT
which has three "Rules to Remember" when making a pairing -- or you can simply look it up in the book's extensive thesaurus-like listings!Cooking Tips:
As chefs, you might find yourself preparing a dish to accompany a particular bottle of wine. If the match isn't quite right, analyze what's wrong. Is the wine much more acidic than the dish?
Then consider adding a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of vinegar to the dish to balance the pairing. Is the dish much more acidic than the wine?
Then you might want to add a sprinkle of salt to the dish to create a better match.
Given the explosion of interest in the world of wine, it behooves chefs to get some basic training in the subject -- and we've noticed that some of the best young chefs we've met recently have done just that.
Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg
Co-authors, WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT
: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best SommeliersWinner of the 2006 Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Award