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Advice for a novice  

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Often times when I go to a restaurant with friends the wine list seems very intimidating. Usually I ask for a recommendation from the sommelier but I am curious if you have some advice for wine novices when selecting a wine at a restaurant.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
post #2 of 4

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.

Cheers,
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 Sommeliers
Winner of the 2006 Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Award
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
I like the simple rules easy to remeber and easy to share with friends who often think that as a former chef I am a wine expert.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
post #4 of 4

Re: Advice for a novice

Nicko, perhaps one of the reasons there is an increasing expectation that chefs are also wine experts is that an increasing number, in fact, are.

Over the past year, we've read or heard about a number of chefs whose wine (and/or other beverage) expertise complements their culinary expertise (or vice versa), including:

* Stephen Asprinio, a CIA alum, went on to serve as sommelier
at Nob Hill at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas

* Saunders Conroy, sommelier of the Besh Steak House at Harrah's Casino in New Orleans, is a CIA alum

* Khai Duong, executive chef at San Francisco's Ana Mandara restaurant, attended the Academie Du Vin in Paris

* Paul Ferzacca, chef-owner of La Tour in Vail, CO, holds a sommelier's certificate

* Bob Iacovone, chef of Cuvee in New Orleans, has both a degree from the CIA and a sommelier's certificate

* Tony Maws, chef/owner of Craigie Street Bistrot in Cambridge, MA, researches and selects his own wine for his 97% organic wine list

* Devin McGarry , a CIA alum who's worked for 15 years in the wine industry and is now launching the caterer Wine & Dine at Home

* Heidi Noble, a professionally trained chef and sommelier, established Joie Farm Cooking School in British Columbia

* Dino Renaerts is both executive chef and sommelier of Crowne Plaza Hotel Georgia in Vancouver, having earned a sommelier's certificate

* Carlos Solis, a CIA alum, is both chef and beer sommelier for the Sheraton Four Points/LAX

* Didier Virot, chef at Aix and FR.OG in New York City, states in his bio that he "earned a degree in sommelerie"

* John Wabeck, chef at Firefly in Washington, DC, acts as his own sommelier and is currently working toward his Master Sommelier designation

* Sang Yoon, chef, owner and beer sommelier of the restaurant/bar Father's Office in Santa Monica, CA

...and of course Andrew (Dornenburg) not only studied with Madeleine Kamman at the School for American Chefs, but earned his sommelier certificate from the Sommelier Society of America.

Do you know of other chefs with sommelier training (or sommeliers with chef training) who belong on this list? We hope you'll feel free to share them here, and/or to email us at Dornenburg@aol.com.

Cheers,
Karen Page
Co-Author with Andrew Dornenburg of BECOMING A CHEF, CULINARY ARTISTRY, DINING OUT, CHEF'S NIGHT OUT, THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF, and WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT
becomingachef.com
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