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Perfect Pairing Secret Revealed

January 8, 2011

Does the title of this post sound like one of those annoying pop-up ads, or a headline from a tabloid newspaper? But this is a lot more delicious than even the most scandalous, look-what-the-Hollywood-starlet-did-now headline.

Ok, food and wine pairing. When it’s done poorly, everyone notices. Truthfully, it’s not so common yet not unheard of to have a wine that just completely tastes horrible with a chosen meal. The basics of food and wine pairing will get you there (red wine with meat, white wine with fish, and match regional food with similar regional wine, i.e. a nice Chianti with pasta and red sauce).

Follow these simple guidelines, and the food and wine both taste good. Easy, right?

But have you ever had an intensely sublime experience, where the both the food and the wine tasted better together than they did separately? One that makes your taste buds sing, that you look back on even years later and say ‘Now that was a great meal!’ That takes some extra work. But if you’re a foodie or a wine lover (and who among us isn’t both?!), then this is what we’re after.

Ok, no more dancing around it. Here is a super secret revealed: the 2006 book What to Drink with What you Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. It is by far the best volume written on the subject. There are upfront chapters on wine, on theories and rules of food and wine pairing and the like. But the heart of the book is an easy to follow listing of practically every type of food imaginable and recommendations of what beverage to pair with it.

Beyond wine, they also list beer choices, even coffee, tea, sake, and other beverages. It’s a complete, thorough work. Through the use of text size and font changes, they make it a snap to discover the top choices for which wines pair best with every entry, as well as other wines that work but would be second or third recommendations for that pairing.

Then they turn it around. The last section of this gustatory encyclopedia lists wines and other beverages with the food choices that make the best pairing. It is brilliantly simple to look up either the meal you’re having and choose the best wine, or look up a wine you have and discover some great food choices to go with it.

And trust me, since this book was published, many wine shops, professional kitchens and writers libraries have this on hand. Secretly.

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