HOME > Chowhound > Wine >

Discussion

Suggested books as introduction for learning about wine and/or food and wine pairing? [Moved from Not About Food]

Just wondering if anyone could recommend a great, easy to read, and informative book about the art and culture about wine, and food and wine pairing? So much to know, and I've read up about it, but I want to be more in depth at this point. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I would recommend checking out Andrea Immer's (Robinson) books at your local bookstore / library. She's the host of "Pairings with Andrea" on Fine Living and is a master sommelier who has a very user friendly approach to wines.

      1. re: carswell

        Thanks for that link. You saved me typing all those ISBNs again!

        Immer and Zraly are great starting points and should never be underestimated for the knowledge that they provide, especially as they are base on actually tasting the wines, not just reading about them.

        Also, still recommend "Wine Lover's Companion," as a great little resource. See cited thread for ISBNs, etc.

        Hunt

      2. "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course" (any edition, really), but 2008 is coming out soon. It's Kevin Zraly's wine class on paper. Or "Secrets from the Wine Diva" by Christine Ansbacher... it's a quick read and pretty informative.

        1. The best, by far, I've found are Andrea Immers' books: a) Great Wines Made Simple, b) Great Pairings Made Simple.

          (The author now may be listed on some editions as Andrea Immer Robinson.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: zin1953

            Thanks so much for all the info... I'll be sure to check it out!

          2. As others have noted, Andrea Immer is great.

            If you prefer something with a bit more narrative:

            Bacchus and Me, by Jay McInerney
            Red, White, and Drunk All Over, by Natalie MacLean

            1 Reply
            1. re: mengathon

              I LOVED Bacchus and Me:Adventures in the Wine Cellar, and the second one "A Hedonist in the Wine Cellar"

            2. One other good book is Perfect Pairings by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein. It may be a bit limited in that it gives detailed pairings for 10 most available basic varietals plus sparkling and dessert wines, but you can interpolate from the 10 if you need to. There are also recipes from Joyce Goldstein (not sure ifthey're related, but the recipes look very good too).

              1 Reply
              1. He's opinionated and very British but I beleive Oz Clarke's insights are spot on.

                The Essential Wine Book by Oz Clarke
                An indispensible guide to the wines of the world

                Happy Reading,
                Punk

                3 Replies
                    1. re: chrisinroch

                      Odd. he LIVES in London, but no bio I can find says where he was born.

                1. vino italiano by lynch and bastianich is a pretty good book.

                  1. I do NOT recommend "the book of wine" by robert joseph. I got it as a gift but it is really out of date and the author practically ignores every non-french wine region.

                    Great wines made simple by Immer is a great intro. The Zraly book is also good

                    1. "what to drink with what you eat" - by andrew dornenburg and karen page. this book has provided me with excellent pairing advice. it's extremely user friendly for beginners.

                      1. There is a good book out there called Wine for Women a Guide to Buying,Pairing and Sharing , and The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide by Leslie Sbrocco. The first book is written in a form were she compares wine with clothes we wear. (ie: simple black dress is a Chardonnay, basic denim is a Pinot Grigio) If your a guy and you can't relate you can just ignore this and it's still a good first book. I used it when I became interested in wine and the 2nd is just a quick guide for buying and pairing.

                        1. I thought Mark Oldman's "Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine" was a great book - includes good explanations of typical varietal characteristics, regional styles, general principles for food & wine pairings, navigating restaurant wine lists, etc.

                          1. These two books are more first-hand accounts of the author's wine experiences, but they are both enjoyable, interesting reads that paint great pictures about the art and culture of wine. "Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine Soaked Journey From Grape to Glass," by Natalie MacLean, and "Adventures on the Wine Route" by Kermit Lynch. Even though these are more narrative rather than textbooks, you will learn a great deal from them as well as being entertained by the excellent writing styles.

                            1. May I offer a different twist on this, from someone who's been pursuing this specific subject for a long time....

                              I've scoured libraries and bookstores rummaging through the food & wine tomes, carefully taking notes and tasting same for quite a few years....

                              A couple things become abundantly clear if you dig through these books long enough:

                              1) They don't agree on much. There's probably more that they DISAGREE with each other about than agree.... This author says that, this author says this, etc. etc.

                              2) So-called "classic regional" food & wine combos, when you actually taste them are often delicious but just as often rather unremarkable... and often there's a wine or wines from OUTSIDE the region that actually make a more dramatic flavor match with that regional cuisine.

                              What I have generally found to be true from digging through food/wine literature is that where there is agreement there's the highest likelihood that will be an excellent match. For example, say you're looking for a match for grilled eggplant with marinara and you check 10 wine authors.... 5 of the authors recommend Wine A, 2 recommend Wine B, and the other 3 authors recommend a smattering of other wines.... in these situations it's much more likely that Wine A is going to offer something for that meal...

                              But just as often you'll look for a dish like that and you're lucky if you find 3 of your "expert" authors to agree on Wine A and the other 7 authors all recommend a different wine... that's more the norm than exception...

                              So, bottom line, rather than recommending one book, I'd recommend DIGGING through alot of different books to find commonalities then test those yoruself.... Good luck!

                              32 Replies
                              1. re: Chicago Mike

                                "So-called "classic regional" food & wine combos, when you actually taste them are often delicious but just as often rather unremarkable... and often there's a wine or wines from OUTSIDE the region that actually make a more dramatic flavor match with that regional cuisine."

                                Repectfully, you are so very, very, wrong. Oysters w/ Muscadet, Comte or Beaufort w/ Arbois Blanc, Crottin de Chavignol w/ Sancerre, Andouillette w/ Chablis, Bordeaux with local lamb shoulder (salt marsh grazed!)... I have been to these places, had the wine and food together and can say the matches are so good, it goes well beyond a simple pairing. It is as the French would say "a marriage", a marriage of flavor and history. So go ahead and enjoy Rioja w/ Comte or NZ Sauv Blanc with Crottin, it's your right....just don't invite me.

                                1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                                  You know, it's interesting...

                                  By your comments I'm to take it that you think it's "very wrong"... check that "very very wrong" to attempt to pair food with wine from outside the region, or with a non-classic pairing... not just wrong in your opinion, but "very very wrong"...

                                  Okay....

                                  There's an interesting recent thread on a Lamb Shank dish by Paula Wolfert, which is purported to be a "classic" Catalonian dish... and heaven-forbid we tinker with adding any cheese from outside Catalonia (I suggested Parmesan Reggiano as did Mario Batali, Bob Kinkead, Gordon Hammersely, Sandra Stefani, and Jean Gaetjen to name a few great American chefs with similar recipes I cited...

                                  But even more interesting is a dish by Paula Wolfert herself, (the author of the supposedly sacrosanct classic Catalonian dish) where she uses 2 European cheeses (Gruyere and Parmesan) in a Tunisian Lamb tangine... imagine that... talk about "non traditional".... are we permitted to do that ? And what wine would you match that dish with ? A North African red? Or might we find a more interesting match outside the region ?

                                  How do we get to match Riesling with Thai food if we don't match "outside the region" ?

                                  As for classic wine/cheese matches, Gewurztraminer and Munster is supposedly as classic as you get and yet IMO there are much more interesting matches with Gewurz outside Alsace...

                                  The list is endless..

                                  Yes, I noted that classic dishes are OFTEN DELICIOUS, but you apparently believe that it's "very very wrong" to hope for anything better or different than a classic match, and that, to me, is very very wrong... there are just way too many examples to the contrary.

                                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                                    "How do we get to match Riesling with Thai food if we don't match "outside the region" ?"

                                    Oh, please. Any wine served with Thai food is going to be extraregional. Ditto the Tunisian lamb tagine. VB's point is that food and wine that grew up speaking the same language tend to make the best pairings for each other. You have yet to offer a convincing argument that diminishes his position or supports yours (your continued implication that if it's true for your tastebuds then it's true period doesn't count).

                                    1. re: carswell

                                      There are plenty of Thai beverages, and plenty of North African wines...

                                      That "food and wine that grew up with each other" make the "best pairings" is a stretch...;

                                      Let me give you a REAL SIMPLE ONE... is "german food" the best match for riesling ?

                                      If you can only choose one cuisine to pair riesling with, per your "evidence" then we would necessarily choose German food because it "grew up with riesling", and of course a very large number of wine drinkers don't consider german cuisine to be the penultimate match for riesling...

                                      As for "not offering a shred of 'evidence'"... you only have to look at the menus of what is now a large segment of America's great chefs and sommeliers... a large number aren't cooking classic dishes OR doing classic food & wine pairings, sorry... if every great restaurant around you is serving a classic cuisine I'd be very surprised....

                                      But again, you miss my original post which read "classic pairings are often delicious"... I acknowledge from the first post the littany of great classic food & wine pairings... but just as often I find non-classic pairings to the same food or wine to be more interesting... and so do alot of chefs these days, Carswell...

                                      In the end there is no "evidence" outside of each individual palate, and I'm fine with people doing their own tastings and reaching their own preferences.....

                                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                                        "Let me give you a REAL SIMPLE ONE... is "german food" the best match for riesling ?"

                                        Actually, the question should be: Is German wine the best match for German food? IMO the answer is yes. But the wine might be Spatburgunder, Grauer Burgunder , Muller-Thurgau, Portugieser, Lemberger, Scheurebe, Swarzriesling, Kerner or at least a half dozen grapes other than Riesling; AND then there is the numerous regional styles of Riesling. My first choice would be a Franken wine with Franken food, a Baden wine with Baden food, etc., etc, etc.

                                        1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                                          Well, both questions are appropriate.... what's the best match for the food AND what's the best match(es) for the wine...

                                          As you stated in your first post, you don't want to be invited to any dinner unless it's a classic regional match, and I appreciate that....

                                        2. re: Chicago Mike

                                          "There are plenty of Thai beverages, and plenty of North African wines..."

                                          Until recently, there were no Thai wines. To this day, few Thais drink wine with their meals. And tagines long predate North African wine, which for the purposes of this discussion can be considered an artifact of French colonization. In other words, both examples are irrelevant.

                                          "Let me give you a REAL SIMPLE ONE... is "german food" the best match for riesling ?"

                                          Why are you changing the subject? No one except you all of a sudden is talking about The Best Match for Riesling. The point under discussion is whether the marriage between, say, German wines and certain traditional German dishes ("certain" because beer is obviously a better match for some) can be bettered. And, generally speaking, it can't.

                                          "If you can only choose one cuisine to pair riesling with, per your 'evidence' then we would necessarily choose German food because it 'grew up with riesling'"

                                          Again, you're putting words in other people's mouths. And it's just silly to lump all German food together and all Rieslings together.

                                          "As for 'not offering a shred of evidence'... you only have to look at the menus of what is now a large segment of America's great chefs and sommeliers... a large number aren't cooking classic dishes OR doing classic food & wine pairings, sorry... if every great restaurant around you is serving a classic cuisine I'd be very surprised..."

                                          We're talking about the marriage between regional foods and regional wines. Why are you changing the subject?

                                          [For readers late to the party, my original post used the phrase "you have yet to offer a shred of evidence" which I edited, evidently while CM was composing his reply, to read "you have yet to offer a convincing argument".]

                                          "But again, you miss my original post which read "classic pairings are often delicious"... I acknowledge from the first post the littany of great classic food & wine pairings... but just as often I find non-classic pairings to the same food or wine to be more interesting... and so do alot of chefs these days"

                                          In your top post, you wrote "So-called 'classic regional' food & wine combos, when you actually taste them are often delicious but just as often rather unremarkable... and often there's a wine or wines from OUTSIDE the region that actually make a more dramatic flavor match with that regional cuisine." That's a universal claim and it's one you've not substantiated except by citing your own idiosyncratic tastes. Vague references to chefs, mainly American chefs who are keen on promoting New World wines and who make it a point of pride not to cook regional Old World dishes, count for nothing. The examples of exquisite marriages between regional foods and wine that VB cited earlier (and it's only the tip of the iceberg) have been validated and continue to be validated by countless chefs, sommeliers, food and wine writers, regional authorities, the people of the regions, extraregionals who take an interest in authentic regional cuisine and, yes, me.

                                          A few years ago, over the course of 24 months I did a survey of 30+ local purveyors of duck confit. Each duck leg was paired with a different wine, including some oddities (Alsatian Pinot Gris, California Petite Sirah, Australian Zinfandel, Chianti Classico, etc.) as well as French reds from outside Southwest France and the traditional regional parings, reds from Bordeaux, Madiran, Cahors, Gaillac and elsewhere in the Southwest. When all was said and done, the Southwest French wines, with one or two excpetions, made the best matches, had the perfect combination of acid and tannins to cut through the fat and of savoury fruit to complement the duck's salty savour. And while a couple of the interlopers were OK (Coudoulet de Beaucastel and Concannon Petite Sirah, to be specific), the vast majority did nothing for the duck, nor did the duck do anything for them. Of course, I didn't try sprinkling cheese on the meat...

                                          That's pretty much been my experience in the decades I've been trying to figure out this food and wine matching thing: the wines of the region make the best pairings for the foods of the region. You may find the occasional extraregional wine that pairs well with some dishes, but you'll probably not find one that pairs as well, let alone better, unless it's a slavish copy of the original. Yes, there are exceptions (an '88 Musar with a classic Proven├žal beef and prune daube is a personal example) but, to my mind and in my experience, they only prove the rule.

                                          VB wrote "Oysters w/ Muscadet, Comte or Beaufort w/ Arbois Blanc, Crottin de Chavignol w/ Sancerre, Andouillette w/ Chablis, Bordeaux with local lamb shoulder (salt marsh grazed!)..." I've mentioned duck confit with Madiran and Gaillac. (All French but it'd be easy to come up with similar lists for, say, Italy and Spain.) I don't think you can suggest wines "from OUTSIDE the region that actually make a more dramatic flavor match" for these foods.

                                          1. re: carswell

                                            Carswell, there's a real simple way to look at it...

                                            Try to wrap your mind around this idea... that the MAJORITY of great restaurants, and especially new "chef superstars" these days aren't doing classic dishes... it's not the "occasional" match but the norm, my friend...

                                            Now you state that these great chefs "count for nothing"... well, believe that if you want. You're okay, the world is messed up.

                                            And they are finding WONDERFUL food & wine pairings...

                                            If you want to limit yourself to regional classics, be my guest. I said in the original post that "many classic pairings are delicious"... so hopefully that satisfies you...

                                            In the meantime, try a non-classic restaurant sometime, you may find the food & wine pairings very interesting!

                                            Lastly, I notice this little tactic you have of responding to things by saying "that's changing the subject"... well, since I started the post I guess I'd have a fair idea of what the subject is, wouldn't I, Carswell... the subject in my mind is whether or not, when studying food & wine pairings, you won't find at least as many interesting combinations that are "non-classic" and involve foods from one region (including new recipes) matching with wines from another region... that's the subject.

                                            1. re: Chicago Mike

                                              What prompted this subthread is your repeatedly quoted claim that extraregional wines "often ... make a more dramatic flavor match with that regional cuisine" than regional wines do. That is the point VB and I have called you to task on and that Fednosor has chimed in on. Your references to modern day American chefs who cook modern day American cuisine have zero relevance to a discussion about whether the marriage between Old World regional wines and foods can be bettered and so are off topic, i.e. changing the subject.

                                      2. re: Chicago Mike

                                        "By your comments I'm to take it that you think it's "very wrong"... check that "very very wrong" to attempt to pair food with wine from outside the region, or with a non-classic pairing... not just wrong in your opinion, but "very very wrong"..."

                                        Vinny Barbaresco didn't say this.

                                        Please don't misquote or distort his words.

                                        He disagreed with your saying that regional pairings were "just as often rather unremarkable" as "delicious."

                                        He didn't say that to "attempt" extraregional pairings was "very, very wrong."

                                        SERIOUSLY, please STOP MISQUOTING and DISTORTING others' words and posts. You've shown a pattern of doing this.

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          Actually, Maria, Vinny DID say this...

                                          He said "don't invite him" to anything other than strict regional classic food & wine pairings...

                                          Read his post before saying I've "distorted" his words...

                                          1. re: Chicago Mike

                                            How did this:

                                            "So go ahead and enjoy Rioja w/ Comte or NZ Sauv Blanc with Crottin, it's your right....just don't invite me."

                                            Become this?

                                            "don't invite him" to anything other than strict regional classic food & wine pairings..."

                                            CM, you're twisting the spirit of my OP. That is, that I prefer regional pairings, and dismissing them based on one's personal preferences or the opinions and practices of new American "uber-chefs" is, IMO, wrong. I will that add that calling a regional pairing "strict" is silly. In my world, wine is about pleasure, not discipline.

                                            1. re: Chicago Mike

                                              "Actually, Maria, Vinny DID say this..."

                                              Oh yeah? Prove it. Exact quotes, please. Not your paraphrase or distortion.

                                              Prove that he said it was it's "'very very wrong' to attempt to pair food with wine from outside the region, or with a non-classic pairing..."

                                              The quote you cite -- "don't invite him" to anything other than strict regional classic food & wine pairings" -- doesn't prove it.

                                              Again: what VB said was "very very wrong" was your statement that regional pairings were "just as often rather unremarkable" as "delicious."

                                              You did misquote. You DID distort.

                                              You lose credibility when you do so. Please be more accurate.

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                Here's the exact quote, you tell me what it means...

                                                "[quote] So go ahead and enjoy Rioja w/ Comte or NZ Sauv Blanc with Crottin, it's your right....just don't invite me... [quote].

                                                That's verbatim. Now, within the context of the post, that clearly means to me that he doesn't like "non-classical" out-of-region pairings...

                                                That's what I take it to mean, anyway. Now, you and others say "nobody on this board has said out-of-region, non-classical pairings don't work"... in fact, they have, I'm not misquoting anyone.

                                                1. re: Chicago Mike

                                                  But he didn't say not to "attempt" it. Which is what you said he said.

                                                  And I've never said that "nobody on this board has said out-of-region, non-classical pairings don't work." You're misquoting again.

                                                  Geographical/regional pairings are the easiest pairings to make, and some of the surest. Yes, there are other pairing strategies -- commonality (mirroring), contrasting (e.g.: spicy/sweet), matching intensity of flavor, matching tone (everyday/everyday, opulent/opulent), etc.

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    And I've never said that "nobody on this board has said out-of-region, non-classical pairings don't work." You're misquoting again.

                                                    Ooops, sorry, that was Carswell who said that....

                                                    Quoting Carswell: "...[quote]No one has said s/he's unwilling to consider the possibility. Some of us are saying that an extraregional wine making a better match is something that just doesn't happen very often....[quote]..."

                                                    When in fact we do have those on the detractor side who in fact are saying they're unwilling to consider the possibility (i.e. "don't invite me")....

                                                    There are so many detractors on this subject it's sometimes a bit difficult to keep you sorted out, sorry :)

                                      3. re: Chicago Mike

                                        I actually have to agree with CM on this one, at least for the original premise - "So-called "classic regional" food & wine combos, when you actually taste them are often delicious but just as often rather unremarkable... and often there's a wine or wines from OUTSIDE the region that actually make a more dramatic flavor match with that regional cuisine."

                                        Yes, some regional pairings are wonderful and VB identifies several. However, if you treat a regional pairing as not just the starting point for food/wine pairings, but the ending point - well, then you very well may miss out on quite a bit. Seems a bit doctrinaire to not even consider whether a wine from outside the region might make a better or at least an interesting pairing, no?

                                        Plus, there are some cuisines where this clearly may not be an option or may not be the best. I like Bacalao al Pil Pil, but until recently it was impossible to get Txakoli in this country (another example of a great regional combination, by the way). I like Greek food, but Greek wine ...? Venice is coastal and should have great seafood, but its white wines are largely mediocre Soaves. Amarone with grilled cuttlefish, anyone?

                                        However, I think CM's later posts get it backwards by asking the wrong question - whether or not a region's foods are the best pairing with its wine - "and of course a very large number of wine drinkers don't consider german cuisine to be the penultimate match for riesling..."

                                        The question usually isn't "What food should I eat with my riesling?" (though some of us surely have taken that approach). It's more often "What wine should I drink with my schnitzel?" Regional pairings very well may provide a good starting point for answering that question but shouldn't IMO be the end of the thought process.

                                        By the way, don't completely dismiss the possibility of Thai wine -
                                        http://www.hotelthailand.com/ezine/20...

                                        (I don't claim to have tried any). And incidentally, "penultimate" means "next to last" and doesn't mean "super-ultimate" - as in, "Thai wine would probably be my penultimate choice for pairing with Thai food - right before Schlitz Malt Liquor."

                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                          "Seems a bit doctrinaire to not even consider whether a wine from outside the region might make a better or at least an interesting pairing"
                                          No one has said s/he's unwilling to consider the possibility. Some of us are saying that an extraregional wine making a better match is something that just doesn't happen very often.

                                          "Plus, there are some cuisines where this clearly may not be an option or may not be the best. I like Bacalao al Pil Pil, but until recently it was impossible to get Txakoli in this country (another example of a great regional combination, by the way)."
                                          The unavailability of a wine in the USA has no bearing on its affinity for the cuisine of its region.

                                          " I like Greek food, but Greek wine ...?"
                                          There are some wonderful Greek wines, even traditional Greek wines. The dry whites from Santorini have long been considered some of Europe's best. And if the much maligned Retsina can make sense anywhere, it's in the context of a Greek meal.

                                          "Venice is coastal and should have great seafood, but its white wines are largely mediocre Soaves."
                                          Soave can be fabulous. Venice also looks to nearby Friuli for its wines and, as a centre of trade, has a long tradition -- stretching back to medieval times -- of importing wines from Lombardia, Dalmatia, Trevi, the Marches, Greece and even as far away as the Middle East.

                                          "By the way, don't completely dismiss the possibility of Thai wine"
                                          Thai-grown grapes were first used in the 1980s to make a wine cooler. The first serious attempts at wine production didn't occur until the 1990s. Thai wine is thus irrelevant to a discussion of traditional wine and food matches.

                                          1. re: carswell

                                            Carswell, again, when you say "no one has said he's unwilloing to consider the possibility"... apparently you haven't read the posts...

                                            Vinny B clearly writes, in his last paragraph "...so go ahead and enjoy [non-classic, non-regional food and wine pairings], just don't invite me..."

                                            1. re: carswell

                                              "No one has said s/he's unwilling to consider the possibility."

                                              Actually, VB said "So go ahead and enjoy Rioja w/ Comte or NZ Sauv Blanc with Crottin, it's your right....just don't invite me." And I have no problem with that - if you don't even want to try it, nobody's going to make you. And I certainly envy anyone who has had the opportunity to try so many of these traditional pairings "in situ". I should also add that where you have the opportunity to do so, it would seem foolhardy to pass up the opportunity for the "native" experience while you're there. Believe me, if I'm in Bordeaux, I'll be drinking Bordeaux and not looking for a California Cab to pair with my local lamb shoulder.

                                              All I'm suggesting is that it seems a bit closed-minded to not consider other possibilities or to insist that the traditional regional combination is necessarily the best or most appropriate. If foie gras is great with Sauternes, why not try it with a German TBA?

                                              Your comment about Venice to some degree actually aids the argument -if Venetians have long looked to other regions for wines, why shouldn't we do the same?

                                              Reference to Thai wine was a small attempt at levity - ergo the ultimate (not penultimate!) line in my post comparing to Schlitz Malt Liquor.

                                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                                VB can speak for himself but that's not how I read his meaning.

                                                "All I'm suggesting is that it seems a bit closed-minded to not consider other possibilities or to insist that the traditional regional combination is necessarily the best or most appropriate. If foie gras is great with Sauternes, why not try it with a German TBA?"
                                                Speaking for myself, I'm happy to consider other possibilities. It's just that they don't often pan out. But, yes, there are exceptions. Many Sauternes are too treacly to accompany foie gras, IMO, while zingy Tokaji can make a fine match, though personally, not caring to start dinner with dessert, I much prefer a dry wine (that, too, a traditional match I hasten to add).

                                                "Your comment about Venice to some degree actually aids the argument"
                                                Don't agree. In Venice's case, the extraregional wines have been around for many centuries and so have had a long time to develop a symbiosis wiith the local cuisine.

                                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                                  I never said that I was unwilling to try anything. In fact, I've tried a multitude of wines with all types of cuisine. I am saying that given the choice, I always prefer a regional wine. I most certainly go "extra-regional" when enjoying wine with Indian, Thai and Chinese foods.

                                                  Now onto this:

                                                  "If foie gras is great with Sauternes, why not try it with a German TBA?" Foie w/ Sauternes/Barsac/Saint Croix du Mont is a fairly common pairing in Bordeaux restaurants; in Alsace for example, a rich, but not overly sweet, Pinot Gris is usaully served. In fact, I have rarely been served a sweet wine with Foie Gras in France. The obsession with "stickies" and Foie is mostly and American thing and IMO is used to support the sweet elements of the dish, not neccessarily the Foie itself.

                                                  1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                                                    I also am not a committed fan of the foie / stickie combo. In fact, and perhaps this is complete heresy in the midst of all this fairly rigid discussion of food and wine pairings, but most times, most meals, I vastly prefer really "getting to know" one, or maybe 2 wines over the course of a meal, rather than trying to micro-manage a pairing of each dish to a particular wine. Even if it is not an ideal pairing with each course, I almost universally find that I don't fully appreciate a wine unless I've spent a couple hours with it - and would often rather do that than have the "ideal" match for each element of each dish.

                                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                                      Very well put! Bottom line, it's about the pleasures of table above all else. I don't believe that I ever suggested that I'm on a quest for the "ideal" match (I'll leave that to others).

                                                    2. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                                                      "stickies" and Foie...IMO is used to support the sweet elements of the dish, not neccessarily the Foie itself."

                                                      I have a slightly different take.

                                                      Botrytised wines are usually very high in acid, in spite of their sweetness. The first operating dynamic in Sauternes-style wines and foie is the acid acting as a foil to the richness (or fat) of the foie gras. Next is the matching of tone: an opulent wine with an opulent dish. And the matching of intensity of flavors. Also, the pleasing flavor dynamic of sweet and fat, like you would find in pastry. Finally, as Vinny mentions, there is commonality: the sweetness/fruitiness of the wine mirroring the sweet/fruit accompaniments to the foie (a peach juice [or any fruit], demi-glace, aged sherry reduction, for example).

                                                      In this case, the regional pairing works (foie gras/Sauternes) because of these five pairing dynamics operating. Other non-regional wines will also work when they meet all or most of the same dynamics: acid/fat synergy, matching opulence, matching intensity, sweet/fat synergy, and sweet/fruit commonality.

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        or, say, torchon of foie gras with peanut butter and jelly like I recently had at Cyrus in Healdsburg. Elvis would have approved.

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          I see your point and don't disagree on principal....however, sweet accompaniments and sweet wine have become "de riguer" on American menus. And yes, they do taste good together. Taking into account that pleasing acidity levels are a given (I'm not much on flabby wine) the wine must not only be sweet, it must also be rich...this puts the "opulent wine with opulent food" model into play. Simply being sweet and high in acidity is not enough; if this were the case we'd being drinking Moscato d'Asti w/ Foie Gras. The one of best Foie pairings I've ever experienced was in 1997 in the restaurant at Hotel Le Cepe in Beaune, though on paper it would seem counterintuitve, it worked quite well... seared Landes Foies Gras over braised artichoke heart served with an artichoke veloute; a very rich dish indeed, with earthy notes and a bit of acid coming from the chokes. The wine was a 1978 Chevalier-Montrachet. The Grand Cru white Burgundy approaching it's 20th year proved the perfect mate for this savoury foie preparation...opulence w/ opulence, acid w/ acid and earth w/ earth...in a word, sublime.

                                                          1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                                                            Very nice description!

                                                            Any memory or thoughts that the cynarin in the artichokes (times two) might have made the Burgundy taste sweeter than it was? As cynarin typically does.

                                                            If so, was this intentional, or serendipitous, or at all complementary to the foie gras?

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                              The dish of was the chef's and the wine chosen by our host (a venerable old vigneron and gourmet) from the restaurant's cellar. Perhaps the wine tasted a tad sweeter from the cynarin, not a bad thing for a 19 year white wine, and the fat in the Foie and veloute married well with this extra wisp of sweetness, but what is truly memorable was that the dish and wine were in harmony, truly simpatico; but what truly made it work was that there was a group of like minded folk at table, having wonderful food (and wine) enjoying the moment. There was no hyperbolic debate over what may or may not work, no discussion of tweaking the dish to meet the wine, the discussion wound it's way around politics and pop culture. My point is and has been throughout these many CH debates....there is no perfect match, nor need there be...but there are perfect moments and ocasionally, epihanies.

                                                  2. re: Frodnesor

                                                    "I like Greek food, but Greek wine ...?"
                                                    Actually, I love Greek wine with Greek food!

                                                    "Venice is coastal and should have great seafood, but its white wines are largely mediocre Soaves. Amarone with grilled cuttlefish, anyone?"

                                                    This statement is more ridiculous that the previous! Veneto produces the most wine of Italy's 20 states (all produce wine to some degree). Veneto has 3 DOCG's and 24 DOC's. Soave, and I'm not dismissing Soave, is certainly not your only option with seafood in Venice...how about Bianco di Custosa or Breganze Bianco? Perhaps a dry muscat from the Colli Euganei, Verduzzo del Piave or Prosecco di Conegliano? One is never without something good to drink in Venice.

                                                    While we're at it, why diminish the cuisine of Venice to grilled cuttlefish. As an ancient trade center, Venice has one of the most varied cuisines you are likely to find in all of Italy. You are as likely to be served calves liver as you are cuttlefish.

                                                    1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                                                      VB - I'm not diminishing the cuisine of Venice to grilled cuttlefish. Just an example - a somewhat purposefully reductive one. Yes, there are some good regional wine choices available. Is it not possible there are some outside the region that could pair equally well? And if you're not in Venice but are eating a Venetian-inspired dish, do you necessarily have to pair it with a wine from Veneto to have a successful pairing?

                                                      By pointing out that Venice's varied cuisine is a result of its long-time status as a trading hub, you again help make the argument I'm trying to suggest is not necessarily invalid - that if you expand your horizons you very may well improve the quality of your gastronomic experience. If Venetians had resolved never to eat or drink anything produced beyond its borders, its cuisine would not be nearly as varied as you say, no?