They say love is in the eye of the beholder and who are we to argue. A quick look around any restaurant and you’ll see an astonishing array of weird and marvelous couples proving that other old adage that opposites attract. So if people from such different backgrounds can hook up and make it work what about food and wines that seem to contrast rather than complement?
Traditionally wine pairing has followed simple rules such as match likes with likes, add sweet wine to sweet deserts or serve bold wines to cut through big meat dishes. But is this really all there is to know with respect to matchmaking food and wine? Of course not, and let me show you why?
First off, wine pairing is an art and not a science so that the only rule that applies is, well there are no rules. Sure there are guidelines and logical practices, but wine pairing is more like a blind date than a stable marriage, you never really know how things are going to go and what’s going to work.
So without further ado here is a short list of some of our favorite non-traditional wine pairings
Goldfish crackers & Riesling – I love this one. The cheddary crunch of the goldfish snacks accent the light style and residual sweetness of a Riesling. In a similar way I also like combining salted peanuts or even popcorn with bubbly. In Thailand the theaters serve alcohol and so there is something decadently fun about having a bag of popcorn and a sweet Italian Prosecco or a tart and dry Champagne. Trust me it makes any Rob Schneider movie funny. Ok maybe not any of his movies, but it is a nice pairing.
Egg rolls and Pinot Grigio. Yep this is a favorite of a Sommelier we met in Hong Kong. I tried it and he’s right. The oil and fresh veggies of the egg roll work perfectly with a typical Pinot Grigio. For desert try pairing a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with a Cabernet Sauvignon. The king of red grapes’ high tannins and complex fruits work well with the peanut buttery goodness of the snack. It tastes like a PB&J sandwich.
Next up how about Asparagus and Sauvignon Blanc? Both taste grassy and earthy and both complement each other’s unique flavors. Or what about eggs and a Pinot Noir? They work well together as the Pinot’s fruit and spice helps make the eggs come alive. Think of it as Oeuf and Burgundy and it sounds like a much more sophisticated meal.
When we were in Argentina we tried fish tacos with a Torrontes, a fruity, floral and dry white wine varietal. The delicate wine stood up nicely to the hot spicy tacos and complemented the heavy use of lime juice on the meat. It shouldn’t have worked but it did, just like ginger bread and Gewurztraminer proved to be a nice pairing and hot dogs and a Dry Rose have become a new fav.
One thing I have learned over the years is that you can’t predict another person’s taste in partners or in pairings. And so attraction and taste really is a truly personal matter and if you like something or someone, who are we to judge? I say enjoy and go for it.
Ok that’s it for me, now it is your turn. What are some of your most surprising food and wine pairings?