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Is alcohol intergral to a good meal or your dream meal?

I was reading a thread on my local board about a resaurant. The OP gave a less then glowing review of the place. He mentioned that he did not get to enjoy the wine pairings as much as he might have liked due to the fact that he had a long drive home. One chower suggested that if he did not have to drive home and was able to partake of the full experience that he might have enjoyed his meal more. Personally I find this suggestion to be a little crazy. Shouldn't food taste good even if you are unable to pair it with the proper beverages? I often have to drive to get to restaurants etc.... so I often have to limit or completely cut out alcohol. I shudder to think that I am eating sub par meals because of this.

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  1. Sometimes, certain wines can interact synergistically with certain dishes, to make both food and wine taste better than the sum of their parts. It's not that the food is bad on its own, but that it could be even better with the correct wine.

    However, this may be restricted to the minority of cuisines where wine is important, as most cuisines don't necessarily involve food/wine pairing (although that doesn't mean that one couldn't pair wine with foods from those cuisines). And in certain cases, non-alcoholic beverages might be involved, e.g. tea.

    1. Good meal: no.

      Dream meal: absolutely.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        Agree. I especially like when restaurants do the pairing for you, because you know someone took care with the choices, so that I, a wine "very much liker" but not a wine "knower" can benefit from someone else's experience and/or expertise. But, i agree with others that pre-selected wine pairings are really too expensive to enjoy most of the time. For those times it's good when you have a knowledgeable server. But most of the time, I get a glass of wine or a style of wine that I already know I really like, and it adds to my enjoyment of the meal not necessarily because it is well-paired with every or even any dish i'm having, but because it is another flavor in my meal to enjoy.

        I also occasionally like to dabble in wine pairings myself when I have small dinner parties. It's a challenge and it's fun to come up with wines that go well with the dishes I've made, and doing the research online is informative and helps me appreciate wine pairings at restaurants.

      2. I'm with you on this. I almost always choose water, and I think my meal should still taste delicious.

        1. Nah. I can't seem to process alcohol very well, so I tend to not drink alcohol, period. I'm also super sensitive to the taste for some reason and hate it. ::ducks tomatoes::

          I'm fine with using it to cook, but not too much or the taste overrides everything and ruins it for me.

          Saves me lots of money when dining out and for happy hours, though! :o)

          1. I must be a troglodyte. I love good wine. I love god food. I enjoy them separately. I really do not like to drink wine or anything else while I'm eating.