Pairing Wine with Food: A Life-Changing Experience
OK, OK.... I know what you're thinking, "life-changing is a bit over-exaggerated." I'm writing this to prove you wrong. There are millions of people, like myself, who describe themselves as "foodies", ranging from chefs, novice cooks, to straight up good food LOVERS. It's different than being gluttonous and face-stuffing; it's a true appreciation for the beauty and flavors of food. Good food doesn't have to be "gourmet" food, as much of what has made us "foodies" stems from stuff like grandma's Sunday Gravy--food cooked with love and soul. Sure, gourmet food has its home in our hearts, too. There's something about complex flavors in perfect synergy on a plate, each layer more exciting than the next.
The other subject, which is massively expansive and somewhat overwhelming (but doesn't have to be), is the world of Wine. When I began my journey of learning everything I could get my hands on about wine, I was nearly overwhelmed by all of the information. Someone suggested to me that I relax, take a deep breath, and take one small step at a time. This was right. There was no way I'd be able to absorb all of the information flying at me from all different directions; no way I'd be able to learn about Sancerre, Argentine Torrrontes, wine glass shapes, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, sparkling wine, and MORE ALL at the same time! So along the way, I stumbled on the subject of Wine Pairing. "Hmm... Wine paired with something I LOVE? I could be on to something"... I was.
I had never been to one of those $150 per person, 10-course wine and food pairing at that point (I still haven't), but it still interested me. I just didn't have that kind of money to be throwing around (and still don't!). My curiosity kept building, so I had to take matters into my own hands. I almost always had wine with my dinner, but never thought to specifically pair a wine with what I was eating. You'd be surprised to find out how well or how poorly certain wines went with certain dishes. A favorite Cabernet of ours made our meal of grilled chicken extremely separated--we had our wine, and we had our grilled chicken; the flavors didn't marry together. We realized that, not only did the Cabernet overpower the chicken, it didn't compliment the chicken's flavors. I started to research and do some experiments of my own, a period of trial-and-error that I'll never forget. I started discovering wine and food relationships that truly astounded me. The new Pinot Noir we tried was a much better pairing for our grilled chicken!
Here's where things get ineteresting. Food and Wine: when you have them on their own, they're great, sometimes fantastic. Now, take those two great things and put them together properly, and you have something AMAZING. If done correctly, a food and wine pairing will escalate the individual parts to higher levels. Your "pretty good" lobster becomes amazing when paired with the Chenin Blanc you always drink on its own. Your Chenin Blanc becomes exquisite, because the lobster compliments the flavors so well. "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
This discovery has led me to persue the subject of food and wine pairing. It has it challenges, but the results make everything worth it. I have been able to bring two of my favorite things, food and wine, to unexpectedly high levels. So, "life-changing experience" is not over-exaggerated. When you are able to take two of your favorite things, marry them together, and create a heavenly experience because of it, you've found a life change. Explore this world I discovered for myself; you may not have a life-changing experience, but you'll open yourself up to a whole new realm of food and wine.