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Jun 26, 2007 04:47 PM

How often do you drink wine without food?

I worked at a wine store once. One of the managers there told me that in Italy most of the wine makers will be sure to always evaluate their wines with food while a smaller but still a significant number of wine makers in France will do the same.
I'm not saying that I've never taken a glass of wine without food. But if I'm having a glass around the house even then I'll toss some nuts or a piece of ham into my mouth while drinking.
How often do you drink wine without food: always, sometimes, never?

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  1. Tastings aside, I almost always drink wine in the context of meal, though sometimes that can mean without food (e.g. a sharp white as an aperitif, a glass of fine sweet wine -- a Sauternes, vin de paille, vin santo, port -- by itself as dessert).

    The problem with serving food at wine tastings is that the food can prejudice your palate. The problem with tasting wines in isolation from food is that their primary purpose -- to be consumed at table -- fades, prompting the taster to focus on other things, not to judge the wine on its food-matching potential. What percentage of Decanter, Wine Spec or Parker tasting notes talk about specific food pairings or even the wine's food-friendliness? Next to none, in my experience.

    4 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      I like how the magazine Wine & Spirits always has food pairing suggestions with every review.

      1. re: carswell

        So does "food-friendliness" necessarily mean that a wine is better enjoyed with food or that it simply can complement a meal and is also well suited for consumption without food? Conversely what is non-food-friendly wine IYHO?

        1. re: Chinon00

          Sorry if I wasn't clear, Chinon. I meant general food compatability as opposed to specific matches. Some wine reviewers (I'm mostly aware of ones who write in French) will recommend incredibly specific food pairings for a wine they're reviewing (e.g. for a Vouvray: shrimp in a coconut cream curry with cashews and mandarin sections on jasmine rice). While that can be interesting, it's not particularly useful. But I do find it revealing that what are probably the three most widely read wine review publications focus so little on wine's primary purpose: to accompany food. Is it any wonder they -- well, Parker and Wine Spec at least -- tend to rate gobby blockbusters highly and frown on wines that, to use Broadbent's expression, "appeal unthrustingly to the senses"?

          "Conversely what is non-food-friendly wine IYHO?"
          I find many gobby blockbusters -- highly extracted, superripe, fruit driven, heavily oaked, high alcohol wines -- hard to pair with anything except the most strongly flavoured grilled red meat. And even when drinking them with strongly flavoured grilled red meat, I usually find myself wishing for something more refreshing (which they never are and which every dry food wine should be), something like a Chinon. So, those would be my nomination for food-unfriendly wine.

        2. re: carswell

          Connoisseurs' Guide does (or, at least, they used to -- haven't seen an issue in a while).

        3. Often. We both work late and need to eat right when we get home. We don't really relax until after dinner, at which time we'll sit back and have a couple glasses of wine.

          1. I find wine to be a very refreshing drink, much lighter than a cocktail, so I love to sip without eating. I'm sure I'm an anomaly, but to me a great wine tastes best on its own; it doesn't need food. Of course, ther are some great wine/food pairings, but I don't think they're necessary for appreciation of the wine.

            1. Glass of champagne, often. Or a first glass of wine at home or at a friend's house, especially something a cold wine in warmer weather (like a rose).

              Aw shoot [confession coming], infrequently after dinner with friends, full bellies all, there's just drinkin' -- throwing back copius amounts of swell juice. We're always safe, though.

              The tradition of consuming wine only with food in Italy (and much of Europe) relates historically to the fact that food was scarce, and wine was considered part of the calories of a meal. It was "food." Field workers often had wine in some rustic portable storage vessel not only to quench thirst, but to add calories to provide the necessary energy to work.

              1 Reply
              1. re: maria lorraine

                I think wine was also safer to drink than water which might be contaminated with sewage...

              2. wine without food......often