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To Wine Or Not To Wine....

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Even though I consider myself at least a foodie and at most a gourmet, but there are very few wines that I care for and even fewer that I outright like. I know there are some food snobs that would claim that you can't be a gourmet if you don't like wine, but I disagree. What do you think?

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  1. I don't think a person has to be an oenophile in order to be able to call himself a gourmet/gourmand/foodie-type person. I personally like, not love, wine, and mostly find that I can enjoy a meal just as well without a glass of it as with.

    There are lots of cuisines in which the drinking of alcoholic beverages along with a meal is more celebratory or special, and I don't think those cuisines are any less worthy of exploration or credit than those where it is commonplace.

    1. I'll drink to that !!! :-)

      1. I'm happy to call myself a foody, yet I havnt drunk alcohol for some years.

        1. Well, I disagree -- seriously. This is not because I am not a big wine fan, which I am not, but this is far from the reason.

          The premise of the statement is very narrow and biased -- very much European based. It essentially suggests that other cultures which do not heavily drink wine cannot possibly be gourmet, like the Chinese, the Indian, the Japanese....etc What is even worse is to firmly say non-alcoholic drinkers like the Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists can never be a food lover. You get the idea. Ask those food snobs you spoke of if they truely believe they can exclude more than 4/5th of the world population based on one version of alcoholic drink. One version.

          Imagine the other way around, rice wine is prominetely featured in East Asian countries. What if someone said you cannot be a gourmet unless you like rice wine. What nonsense is that?

          1. I would see a doctor about your aversion to wine.

            1. ««I know there are some food snobs that would claim that you can't be a gourmet if you don't like wine, but I disagree.»»

              I think whomever's been telling you that is a definite poseur; Chemicalkinetics is right in that this statement pretty much obviates most of the planet and really demonstrates a narrow-minded Euro-centric view of the culinary world.

              1. I am happy to see the replies that support the OP's position that you can enjoy great food, be a foodie, and yet not be into wine. I have often felt that there is a group of elitist foodies who look down their noses at people who do not accompany their food with properly selected wine.

                I would love to drink wine with my meals (or without my meals!) but it is better that I don't. I am one of those people who just like it too much so abstinence is my only rational option.

                I am not sure that even if I did drink alcohol that I would be happy about spending the kind of money that people do on good wine. I think I'm more pragmatic--I'd like to get more mileage for my entertainment $$ and spending as much or more on wine as on the food itself is not my idea of a great value. I know there are many people who feel otherwise and who can and do drink very responsibly, so that's great for them.

                69 Replies
                1. re: jlhinwa

                  I agree with you, though do choose to spend a good portion of my dining $'s ON wines. That is just my choice. However, I would never wag a finger, or a tongue, if one did not imbibe.

                  It's like going to Las Vegas. We have to do so, about 4x per year. In over 20 years, I have never dropped $0.01 on a table, or in a machine. That is just my choice. OTOH, I have dropped many, many $'s on restaurant tables, and much has been for my wines.

                  Stick with your personal choices, and do not let others influence you.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Excellent point. Everyone values things differently and should spend their money and time where it most pleases them.

                    I am totally with you on the Las Vegas thing; I cannot bear to spend my money knowing that I am almost certainly flushing it down the toilet. But show me a spa where I can get a massage, facial, etc., and I am happy. I know plenty of people who think that kind of thing is a total waste of money.

                    The wine with food issue is really a moot point because it simply isn't an option for me, but I do wonder at times what I'm missing. Oh well...so it goes.

                    1. re: jlhinwa

                      Though not in LV, I have been known to do a complete "spa day" for me and my lovely wife. That is worth the $, in most cases, though we have a masseuse, who comes to the house monthly, and my wife does the nails and toes, monthly too. I usually do these, after about 3 - 4 days of golf, and at my advanced age, really enjoy them.

                      I do not mind leaving my $ on the restaurant table (or the spa's desk), but do not feel inclined to gamble. That does not reward me, like a fine meal, or a great bottle of wine.

                      Were it not for the great restaurants (and some golf courses), my poor wife could not get me there with a big bribe, for her 4x year meetings. I have seen every Cirque show, so it's only the food and the wine (and the golf), that brings me back. Others can have the rest of it, and they are welcome to it. It is just not MY thing.

                      Hunt

                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                      Hunt, you are a wonderfully wise individual. I always enjoy reading your posts of reason.

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Depends on the claim. Staying with your analogy if a person claims to be an authority on Las Vegas tourism he or she must have a clue about the casinos and gambling. Even if you hate it.

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          Chinon00,

                          This is probably a weak example. Yes, a person who claims to be knowledgeable about Las Vegas probably know a little bit about casinos operations and gambling revenue, but that is the extend of it. The person does not have to love gambling and certainly does not have be an expert. In fact, there is next-to-little correlation between the love of gambling and the knowledge of the city. The Mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, is not the best poker player in town.

                          My understanding of the original poster position is not so much about ignorance of wine. He said that he does not care for wine. So the question remains. Can a food gourmet not like wine? I think you have some good points when it comes to some European cuisine, but I think the Las Vegas example probably does not help your case. It has nothing to do with "hating it". You simply do not need to love gambling to understand the city Las Vegas. That simply underestimates the diversity of the city.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I guess that you don't HAVE to LIKE anything to be a "gourmet". But I'd think that the claim would carry certain expectations (in terms of a knowledge base but not "liking" anything per se). Once we've nailed down the specifics of the claim (i.e. cultural upbringing, religion, etc) then we can establish reasonable expectations. Without those expectations being a "gourmet" comes down to whatever the person making the claim defines it as then. So what's the point then I ask. Have at it congratulations you are a gourmet based on your own personal criteria. That would be useless to me.

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              "Once we've nailed down the specifics of the claim (i.e. cultural upbringing, religion, etc)"

                              Why should religion has anything to do with this claim? Let's say we are talking about French cuisine and that you believe wine is very integral of the French foods, then it should be integral for everyone. Why would a Christian needs to love wine to be a French cuisine gourmet and a Muslim does not? That certainly does not make sense to me. If you really believe "loving wine" is absolutely important to the French cuisine, then it is what it is. Then the Muslims simply will never be French gourmet according to your definition.

                              I believe calculus is fundamentally important in understanding quantum mechanics. I cannot say things like a Christians need to understand calculus to master quantum mechanics, but a Muslim does not or vice versa.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                "If you really believe "loving wine" is absolutely important to the French cuisine, then it is what it is. Then the Muslims simply will never be French gourmet according to your definition." 
                                First I didn't say "loving wine" I said having a knowledge base. But if your faith or anything else seriously inhibits you from understanding the relationship of wine to food then calling yourself a gourmet of French cuisine would be problematic.

                          2. re: Chinon00

                            I am very sorry, but cannot recall anywhere, that I have claimed to be an "authority" on Las Vegas, at any level. Perhaps you have confused me with someone else?

                            I only go to dine, and to play golf, as I have seen about all of the shows, that I care to see, and have never gambled there. If you want to talk about food, or golf (on another forum), then I am glad to try and accommodate you. Otherwise, I am unsure of what you want from me.

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              "analogy" Bill. I don't think the post was meant to be an attack.

                              1. re: tommy

                                OK, please educate me, on how my "analogy," translates to being an "expert on Las Vegas."

                                Maybe the allusions are so delicate and subtle, that they are sailing over my poor, pointed, little head, like cirrus clouds caught in the Jet Stream.

                                Hunt

                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Sarcasm is so cute.

                                  1. re: tommy

                                    Oh good. I was afraid that it might have been lost on you.

                                    Hunt

                              2. re: Bill Hunt

                                The OP is well within his/her right to not like wine. However the OP also makes the claim that he/she is a "gourmet". For me that claim comes with some reasonable expectations. If the OP considers his/her "gourmet-ness" to be western influenced to a significant degree then knowing something about wine and it's relationship with food is essential IMHO. The OP can clarify this point if he/she would like to.
                                You mentioned visiting Las Vegas and my only point was that IF you made a claim (which you did not) in regard to LV (such as the OP did in regard to food) you still don't have to enjoy gambling but we'd have some reasonable expectations of you; which would include some knowledge on gambling. So people are free to do as they please but when making broad claims again it comes with some expectations.

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  "but we'd have some reasonable expectations of you; which would include some knowledge on gambling. "

                                  I don't understand this point, even in the context of Las Vegas. My 18 year nephew loves Las Vegas and is visiting the city again on his current holiday to America.

                                  As far as I am aware, he has no knowledge of gambling and, as I understand things, American law does not treat him as a adult at this age (unlike the country of his birth or his current country of residence) so he can't enter a casino in LV, so is unlikely to be developing any such knowledge soon.

                                  He will be enjoyig the food in the city and developing his photgraphic portfolio. Possibly combining both.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    If one makes the broad CLAIM (which no one here did it's just an example) to be an AUTHORITY on Las Vegas tourism do you or do you not think it would be reasonable for the person making the claim to be utterly ignorant of the gambling aspect of Las Vegas and to still be considered an authority?

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      See what you mean now - that it's the knowledge that's important, not the experience.

                                      By that token the nephew might lay a claim to be an authority on LV tourism as he is certainly not utterly ignorant about that aspect of the city, although is too young to be allowed to experience it.

                                      And similarly, I know of a local Michelin starred chef who can cook nationally acclaimed seafood but is allergic to it so cannot experience her creations.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        As mentioned up-thread, I knew of two sommeliers, who cannot, or choose to not drink wine, yet know their craft well. In Rome, I met a third, and put him to test. He requited himself very well indeed.

                                        Now, I still have personal difficulty, getting MY head around food, without wine, but that is my issue. Some seem to do it very well. I, however, would not wish to change places with them.

                                        Hunt

                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                    I agree that the OP can certainly enjoy wine, or not. As for their defining themselves as something, then that is their call. Now, if their definition of "gourmet" differs from yours, or mine, that does not negate their impression of themselves.

                                    I think that too much is being made of the "gourmet" aspect. The OP is happy without wine and food, and though I cannot imagine that, will gladly accept it. The OP could be a world-renown chef, but just not enjoy wine.

                                    The OP could be a well-published restaurant reviewer, but just not like wine.

                                    I can accept their definition, and while it flies against my choices, am not offended by the claim.

                                    Now, if one wishes to belabor their definition of "gourmet," or the selected references that can be found and edited, so be it. It just does not mean that much to me.

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      "If the OP considers his/her "gourmet-ness" to be western influenced to a significant degree then knowing something about wine and it's relationship with food is essential IMHO."
                                      _____
                                      Since when is there a test or specific qualifications to be a 'gourmet'? I may not know much about wine; you may know far less than I do about modernist cooking techniques, beer, Chilean food, Mexican sauce-making, Southern barbecue, etc. Does considering oneself a gourmet, aside from just sounding a little silly, also imply that one knows everything about all types of food and drink everywhere (or at least, quite arbitrarily, in your hemisphere of choice)? Or are some kinds of knowledge - namely the ones you have to pay out the nose for - essential while others are just brain refuse?

                                      The point is, all of us have knowledge deficiencies in one area or another.

                                      Wine isn't an essential part of every meal. It's a traditional part of some meals, mainly from Western European cooking traditions. 'Western' food is hugely encompassing and widely varied - there is no one thing that is essential to it. The same is true, though to a lesser degree, of European food or even Western European food. There's no single common thread, just thousands of different foods and drinks and techniques and traditions to learn.

                                      I get how wines can pair interestingly with food via the magic of perceived sweetness, acidity, astringency, and underlying flavors playing off of food. But dude, it's just one type of beverage.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        "Wine isn't an essential part of every meal."

                                        While that does not hold true for me, I can easily see how it could for many others, and I would never hold it against them.

                                        Hunt

                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          I appreciate the sentiment, but I was picking a fight with the other fella ;)

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            That is fine with me. One must choose their fights.

                                            Hunt

                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                          "The point is, all of us have knowledge deficiencies in one area or another"

                                          And as I've asked elsewhere how deep and wide can these "deficiencies" be? Can you for example call yourself a gourmet if you are highly refined in only ONE area such as Southern BBQ but nothing else?

                                          Also in regard to your "it's just one type of beverage" comment you first describe all of wine's UNIQUE food friendly qualities (quite well I might add) but then describe it as "just one type of beverage".

                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                            I'd agree that 'gourmet' carries the connotations that one has a wide base of knowledge about food. And as such, someone who knows ONLY BBQ would probably not be considered a 'gourmet' (he would instead proudly wear the mantle of 'pitmaster' - IME if you or I were to call him a gourmet, he'd be the first to correct you). Incidentally, you do occasionally run into a 'gourmet' who knows a good bit about, say, French restaurant fare but little else. I don't really care what anyone calls themselves, but claiming some kind of privileged status among foodies on that basis alone is ridiculous. I'm not saying that applies to you, btw, except that your blowing up the importance of wine belies the same kind of Eurocentric thinking that breeds that kind of silliness.

                                            But only knowing one kind of food is fundamentally different than someone who does have a wide base of food knowledge but has a deficiency in any one area. And as important as wine may be to the meals of some Western European traditions, it's only one area. There are thousands of foods and traditions to learn about; on that scale, wine is such a small part of the picture, just like BBQ, English breakfast foods, Italian desserts, etc (BTW, i don't find the comparison of wine to desserts particularly apt - desserts are far more varied and widespread - but even then I'd say a person who knows little of desserts could reasonably consider himself a gourmet if he otherwise has a broad base of food knowledge).

                                            When I described wine's qualities, the point was that they're not magical and not even unique. In a sense, it's unique that people focus on said qualities with wine. But there's nothing unique about the effect itself. Drink a sip of orange juice; then take a bite of dessert; then another sip of orange juice. The dominant flavor in the OJ goes from sweet to sour. Of course, that effect isn't sought out with OJ. So try a nice, light Ale with sushi, for an effect similar to a wine pairing. Even more distinct - drink some good quality coffee while eating some chocolate caramels. The chocolate deepens the coffee and smooths over any sour notes while the coffee highlights any saltiness in the caramel - a lovely effect. I actually like wine quite a bit, though I'm far from a connoisseur. It's a great beverage; but it's still just a beverage.

                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                              Let me ask you this, how many restaurants have you visited, serving what you would consider to be "gourmet cuisine" that do not have a wine program (excluding byobs)?

                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                Chinon00.

                                                Sorry about jumping in, but your example is based on a weak correlation. This is not to say you don't have a good point. I just think you can do better with the kind of examples you offered.

                                                First of all, there are many fine restaurants do not serve wine.

                                                Second, let me (reverse) ask you think, how many gourmet cuisine restaurants have you visited that do not have serve coffee or tea or water or air conditioning... etc. In fact, let's put another spin to it, many gourmet restaurants do have parking lots. According to your argument, parking one's car in a parking lot is a requirement for calling oneself a foodie or a gourmet.

                                                Having wine offered in a gourmet restaurant is hardly a proof of the relationship you tried to demonstrate. "Correlation" hardly is the proof of "necessity". Many gourmet restaurants also have a little candlelight or flower placed in the middle of a table. It does not prove understanding candle making and floristry are important to become a foodie.

                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  It's a good thing you excluded BYOBs, since I live in the Tryannical Sobrietocracy of Pennsylvania where a great many of my favorite restaurants are BYOB.

                                                  But to answer your question more directly, I think if you travel all around the Western hemisphere, you'll find countless places serving exquisite food but not wine. Now, if we're just talking expensive restaurants in the US and Western Europe, of course you'll find wine programs at most of em, even in quite a few places that specialize in food that is not traditionally served with wine. But that's a matter of economics, not merely culinary revelance. The easiest and most lucrative way to make money in the restaurant business is off wine sales.

                                                  As Chem pointed out though, claiming that wine must be central to gourmet cuisine just because it's so frequently a part of the experience at gourmet restaurants is sort of like claiming the same thing about air conditioning.

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    However we can agree I hope that at these restaurants coffee, tea, bottled water aren't specifically selected by the restaurant to accompany and pair with the meal as the wine is. That's not to say that an individual may not choose to drink whatever they like with their meal.

                                                    "I think if you travel all around the Western hemisphere, you'll find countless places serving exquisite food but not wine." 

                                                    Could you please list a few gourmet restaurants in the Western Hemisphere that do not have a wine program; and purely as a function of choice and not due to alcohol prohibition laws. 

                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      "at these restaurants coffee, tea, bottled water aren't specifically selected by the restaurant to accompany and pair with the meal as the wine is."

                                                      Association does not prove your point and neither will pairing, especially coming from the restaurants.

                                                      Different barbecue sauces are known to pair with different barbecue meats. Yet many barbecue competitions only judge on the meat without the sauce.

                                                      Various beers are used to pair with different foods like burger and pizza, but I have never heard of anyone said that I must be knowledgeable about beer before I can learn to eat burger and pizza.

                                                      The Shun cutlery manufacturer stated that its knives should be pair with its electric sharpener. Quote:
                                                      "For an electric sharpening option we recommend the Shun electric sharpener which matches the 16° angle of our cutlery. "
                                                      http://www.kershawknives.com/faq.php?...
                                                      Yet, one can perfectly enjoy and understand Shun knives without pairing them with the Shun electric sharpener.

                                                      Many people like to pair their Le Cresuet cookware based on color. Le Cresuet, the company, also has recommendation for pairing its different color enameled cookware, shown here: "Le Creuset's DIJON blends bright yellow with a subtle hint of brown to resemble the unmistakable color of DIJON mustard. DIJON is versatile, accenting darker shades like Cassis, or PAIRING colorfully with Fennel or Flame."
                                                      http://cookware.lecreuset.com/cookwar...
                                                      At the end, pairing the Le Cresuet color is not essential for learning how to use a Dutch Oven.

                                                      One can enjoy barbecue pork without the dedicated sauce. One can sharpened Shun knives without pairing them with the Shun brand electric sharpener. One can use a Le Cresuet Dutch Oven without pairing the color.... as such, I suspect one can learn about various dishes and meals without pairing them with wines.

                                                      While the skill in pairing is interesting and valuable, it does not in any way proves it is essential. This is especially so when the pairing is recommended by the restaurants or by the manufacturers. What "pairing" often suggests is a theme of "nice to have", but not a proof of "must to have". Because it is not "must to have", it is cannot be proved to be essential -- it cannot be shown as essential to be a gourmet or foodie in this case.

                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                        I'm also curious about these restaurants. As a somm, I pay a ludicrous amount of attention to wine lists at restaurants (via actual dining and research), not just where I live, but where I visit and dream of visiting. I cannot recall one finer restaurant that's serious about food/epicurean/gourmet not having a fairly food-friendly list. Even gastro pubs whose focus is often beer will feature well-crafted wines (always, in my experience) for the oenophile of the group.

                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                          "I cannot recall one finer restaurant that's serious about food/epicurean/gourmet not having a fairly food-friendly list"

                                                          You also probably cannot recall many finer restaurants do not offer coffee or tea or soft drinks or white table cloth or air conditioning. Yet, association is not equivalent to proof of necessity. While many fine dining restaurants offer wines which the lower tier restaurants may not, fine restaurants also offer many things like candle light and valet parking...etc. None of which is necessary for creating gourmet foods.

                                                          One should not assume "association" is the same as "requirement". Yes, a required ingredient is almost always the an associated ingredient, but the reverse is not always true.

                                                          Guilt by association?

                                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associat...

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            But the wine list is directly informed by the flavor, ingredients, texture etc of the cuisine and is intended to be consumed and to work with the cuisine gastronomically. The candles, parking lot, pepsi-cola, etc are not.

                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                              "The candles, parking lot, pepsi-cola, etc are not."

                                                              First of all, any respectable restaurant would serve coca-cola, not pepsi cola. :)

                                                              "the wine list is directly informed by the flavor, ingredients, texture etc of the cuisine"

                                                              True. Some of the examples I wrote are exaggeration. I merely want to show that "association" alone is just association. I think barbecue sauce would probably be closer and more relevant. Some people, actually most people, made the sauces with the intention to be consumed with barbecue meat. Wine can be consumed on its own, not so for barbecue sauces. Barbecue sauces are really meant for barbecue. I am sure you can technically drink barbecue sauces on their own, but that would be very weird. So, if anything, I would argue that barbecue sauces have a tighter relationship with barbecue (meat) than wine have for any cuisines. Yet, some barbecue competitions are judged without the sauce. So obviously, the sauce is not a must. In fact, I can say the same for many gourmet dishes. In many competitions, foods and dishes are submitted on their own. The judges do not have to drink the wine to judge the food. I would argue that more often and not, the judges do not drink wine while judging dishes. This means the judges do not believe the wine is essential in tasting/judging the dishes.

                                                          2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            I live near a Lao restaurant where the woman cooks meticulously wonderful dishes, but there is no sommelier, and I've yet to see anyone drinking wine there. Since it is in a strip mall, I imagine that the overlap in clientele to your vision of fine dining is fairly slim. But in no way do I consider one locale to be more gourmet than the other.

                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                              Where do you personally draw the line between "gourmet" and just damn good cooking though? As CHOWs we all certainly eat "well" regularly. But I eat what I consider to be "gourmet" maybe a half dozen times a year.

                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                ^ :)

                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                  One of the issues here is people seem to be using different definitions or connotations of 'gourmet.' You even switch connotations from post to post.

                                                                  'Gourmet' as an adjective applied to food seems to most often imply that the food is delicate, pristine, and expensive. As such an amazing taco served on the street in Mexico: not gourmet. A conceptual play on a taco, immaculately plated and served by some Robuchonlike French chef at an expensive restaurant: gourmet. Doesn't matter which one is actually more satisfying or successful.

                                                                  'Gourmet' as a noun can mean a few different things. It can mean a person who knows quite a bit about food and dining. I believe that is the sense in which the OP used the term, and probably the most common current usage. By the OP's assumed definition, he can be a gourmet without knowing much about wine.

                                                                  It can also mean, literally, "a connoisseur of food and drink," as many dictionaries define. 'Drink' can be understood to refer specifically to wine, in which case not knowing anything about wine would exclude a person from gourmet-dom by definition. But that's not a very interesting debate.

                                                                  And as it maybe seems you use it, 'gourmet' can be used with its French origins intact and apply specifically to someone who knows a lot about French food, usually restaurant fare. Wine is admittedly an important part of French food, though there's plenty to know beyond wine as well.

                                                                  The point is that 'gourmet' can have multiple connotations, none of which are wrong on their own - but conflating one connotation with another is problematic because it starts to imply that expensive Western European restaurant food is actually better quality or more worth knowing than well made food from other cultures or food served in more humble settings.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    As I asked another poster do you delineate between "gourmet" and just "damn good cooking" or is there only good and bad cooking to you? I mean I might have my favorite crepe stand in Paris but would never consider it gourmet despite going there everyday and loving it and appreciating it. It just isn't the same thing to me.

                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                      I get that you make that distinction. But exactly what is that disctinction in your mind? What makes a fantastic crepe stand non-gourmet but another dish gourmet? Is it the quality of the food or just the setting and presentation and pomp and circumstance with which it is served?

                                                                      A lot of people on this thread have been making the distinction based on quality of the food/cooking. You haven't exactly clarified why you make the distinction, outside of giving a few examples without explaining em.

                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                        There is no hard line between gourmet and non-gourmet. But what I'd expect more often from a gourmet meal (other than wine) are:

                                                                        1) decadence (e.g. Beef filet with demi glace sauce topped with truffle studded foie gras) 
                                                                        2) rare and expensive ingredients (i.e. caviar, truffles, sea urchin, Sauternes)
                                                                        3) attention to presentation

                                                                        What I expect from ALL outstanding cooking (gourmet or otherwise) are the use of quality ingredients and refinement of cooking. 

                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                          Going further - to you, a 'gourmet' (noun - a person) would be someone who knows a lot about 'gourmet' (adjective, as you have defined it) food and dining? Or someone who knows a lot about good food in general? Or does it have some other nuance?

                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                            First of all my assumption was if you call yourself a gourmet that you cook. So to me a gourmet would have a foundation in skillful cooking and would be familiar with my adjective definition of "gourmet".

                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                              Now that you've made me think about it, I've never thought a person has to cook in order to be able to appreciate good, even refined, food.

                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                I agree with you ina. I can't imagine Brillat-Savarin spent much time in front of a hot stove, except maybe to keep an eye on his chefs.

                                                                              2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                That is rather a large assumption because until recently most gourmets were men and few of them cooked.

                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                  "So to me a gourmet would have a foundation in skillful cooking and would be familiar with my adjective definition of "gourmet"."
                                                                                  ______
                                                                                  So to have a foundation in skillful cooking, one would have to be knowledgeable in wine? Or familiarity with wine is another part of being a 'gourmet'?

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    I'd say that to have a sound foundation in cooking as a Westerner wine knowledge would be useful and as a gourmet it's essential.

                                                                              3. re: Chinon00

                                                                                What you define as gourmet meal I would just define as expensive. To me a gourmet would prefer a perfectly ripe tomato, just picked from the vine, with maybe a little salt and olive oil, to a filet of beef overdressed in demi, truffles and foie gras. At least that is what I see today among the best chefs and most discriminating diners, though your definition definitely held in the past.

                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                  Which among the "best" chefs is serving "perfectly ripe tomato, just picked from the vine, with maybe a little salt and olive oil," as a main or first course?

                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                    I'm pretty sure there are more than a handful out there doing something very much like that. There has been for years a movement back to simplicity (Not that some people haven't been doing it for a while a la Alice Waters.)

                                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                      Seasonal cooking has become very popular. The most likely place to find such simple dishes is at Food to Table events or special events, though there are a number of restaurants offering simple tomato salads. Here are a few that I found:
                                                                                      Campagnola
                                                                                      Equinox
                                                                                      Cinq
                                                                                      The Royce
                                                                                      Montagna
                                                                                      One Market
                                                                                      ABC Kitchen
                                                                                      My most memorable tomato salad was at a restaurant in St. Malo, France. The menu just said "tomato salad" (in French) and it was a summer tomato sliced at the table, seasoned with the local fleur de sel and olive oil.

                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                        The "simple tomato salad" at Montagna includes tomatoes and Manni olive oil and sorbet and burrata cheese. I reviewed menus from most of the above. Some were examples of great simplistic approaches to high quality dining while others were littered with more decadent offerings which included truffles and caviar and foie gras.

                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                          If your point is that different restaurants have different approaches. I think that is something we would all agree with. Ingredients coupled with technique create a gourmet experience--the ratio of ingredient cost/ ingredient quality/seasonal freshness/ preparation time will vary depending on the chef.

                                                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                                                            I'd say that some of the approaches employed are or approach gourmet and some don't. All appear to be equally exceptional however from what I've read.
                                                                                            Gourmet as I see it is much harder to pin down these days with so much fusion and blurring of lines going on. You can buy a duck sausage "hot dog" covered with foie gras and truffle sauce with a side of fries fried in duck fat. Is that "gourmet"? Well to me although it's just a hot dog it's certainly headed in the gourmet direction. While a freshly caught whole fish grilled perfectly and topped with lemon juice, olive oil and parsley is spectacular but different from gourmet. I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

                                                                                      2. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                        Listen I've had many gourmet meals. But what I have listed on Chowhound as the "best meal of my life" was NOT a gourmet meal in my opinion. It was relatively simple all about celebrating the naked ingredient. Porcini risotto, pigeon, steak, salad of mozzarella, warm lardo and arugula. Simple and wonderful, the best I ever had and not gourmet.

                                                                          2. re: Chinon00

                                                                            I would draw the line at excellence in food. Napkins, tablecloths, reservations, and stemware don't count.

                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                              I hear what you are saying. And I'm not one of those guys who'd never eat at a taco stand or falafel truck. My family and I frequent our neighborhood Korean BBQ and Vietnamese Pho joint. All great stuff. We can agree to disagree whether they are gourmet or not tho'.

                                                                      2. re: Chinon00

                                                                        "Could you please list a few gourmet restaurants in the Western Hemisphere that do not have a wine program"

                                                                        ___

                                                                        I quite deliberately didn't call them 'restaurants' nor did i refer to the food as 'gourmet' (see my post above about conflating different meanings of the word). They are only 'gourmet' by some definitions of the word.

                                                                        I'm talking about taco stands in Mexico city, glorious little bahn mi stands, food trucks that care intensely about the quality of their food, my favorite local Japanese/Korean take out spot where they serve spot-on perfect galbi for under $10.

                                                                        I haven't travelled enough outside the US to name any expensive fine-dining restaurants that decline to serve wine just because it doesn't go with the food. I'm fairly sure they're out there, but probably not too many of em in the US and Western Europe because wine is too lucrative. As I'm sure you know, there are plenty of top-tier Japanese restaurants in the US where you can buy immaculate, gorgious sushi right along with an expensive cabernet where the sushi and the wine are doing each other no favors. That's capitalism.

                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                          So your experience at gourmet restaurants which serve wine has lead you to the general conclusion that what drives the wine list is profit exclusively and not any gastronomic relationship with the food?

                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                            That would be a distortion of what I said. I said that for a fine dining restaurant to not offer wine when it otherwise could would be foolish from a financial perspective. That doesn't preclude the majority of cases where wine is a welcome addition from a gastronomic perspective.

                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        I agree about Vegas. I'm originally from Reno, so the gaming is nothing to me. I go to Vegas for the food!

                                                        1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                          Hey, a person after my heart! That is exactly how I feel, though all of my dining in LV does involve wine, which I also love. To me, dining and wine are intertwined, but I can easily see how they would not be, to others. I would never hold that against them. Same for gaming in LV, Reno, or elsewhere. Some may feel that the gaming is a big part of the total experience, but it is not to me - so be it.

                                                          As for the OP's query, if one does not enjoy wine, or any alcoholic beverage, that is their choice. I would never grade them down, though wine IS a big part of MY dining.

                                                          Hunt

                                                      3. re: jlhinwa

                                                        Obviously, it’s nobody’s business but your own as to what you choose to drink with your meals. However, there is a point that seems to be missed by several critics of wine drinking. Many of the regions of Europe developed local foods that complement the wines grown in their area. It is a match that yields a third flavor, distinct from either the wine or the food. It is often referred to as 1+1=3 when talking about wine pairing. It does not require expensive wine to achieve this, just the correct wine. Other areas of the world have beverages other than wine that complement their foods. I never drink wine with Mexican food, I drink Mexican beer and so forth. But it is heaven when the food and the wine work together and this is what foodie-wineos hope others get to experience.

                                                        1. re: BN1

                                                          bingo

                                                          1. re: BN1

                                                            That makes a lot of sense and I can see how a properly selected wine could enhance the dining experience considerably.

                                                            1. re: BN1

                                                              That exactly.

                                                              There are simply some magical flavors that can't be created without wine and I sure as hell don't want to miss out on 'em.

                                                              Drink wine if you want to; if not, there's more for me.

                                                              1. re: BN1

                                                                I tend to agree.

                                                                When I do my food and wine pairings, I look for wines that bring out the best in the food, and also in those wines.

                                                                Looking to the origin of the cuisine is usually a good starting point. It often takes the "work" out of that pairing too.

                                                                I am always hoping that my pairing will be the ultimate: the food will attain another level, because of the wine, and the wine will be improved by that food. To me, that is the ultimate - the food and wine compliment each other, to the point that both are improved - but then I am a wino... [Grin]

                                                                Hunt

                                                            2. <"I know there are some food snobs that would claim that you can't be a gourmet if you don't like wine....">

                                                              I can't say as I've ever met, read , or heard anyone who said that. My 2¢................ that's just plain ridiculous.

                                                              1. Not at all.

                                                                While I am avowed wino, and seldom dine, past breakfast, without wine, I know many, who do not appreciate it. I even know two sommeliers, who do not drink wines, but still do a wonderful job of pairing them with food. Do not understand how, but they do.

                                                                For every glass that you pass on, there is someone, like me, who will drink your share.

                                                                Enjoy,

                                                                Hunt

                                                                1. <««I know there are some food snobs that would claim that you can't be a gourmet if you don't like wine, but I disagree.»»>

                                                                  Have you ever had someone specifically say that to you? I have been in the food and wine businesses for 30+ years and I have never had anyone say that within my earshot.

                                                                  As it happens, I do like wine, very much. But I have many colleagues and friends who don't drink alcohol for whatever the reason who are very much "into" food, and who enjoy fine dining and enjoying cooking and serving many kinds of cuisine.

                                                                  When you make sweeping statements like the above, it seems a good idea to document it for validity's sake. For me, that is not a valid claim.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                    Really? In 30+ years you've never come across one of those full of themselves wine or food snobs who make lame, sweeping statements about how you must always do this, never do that, this is the best, that is the worst, etc., etc., etc.?

                                                                    I'll step in for the OP and say in my 30+ years of living, I've heard plenty of people say dumb crap like that, but I wouldn't waste my time documenting it.

                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                      Life is just too short to remember Bull$h!t. There are too many great experiences, great people, great food and wine to enjoy. I try to focus on the things that bring me joy, not the apcray of folks who would bring me down.

                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                        "Life is just too short to remember Bull$h!t"

                                                                        "it seems a good idea to document it for validity's sake. For me, that is not a valid claim"

                                                                        Then why would you ask the original poster to "document" the incidient. That would be the opposite of what you just said.

                                                                        As for documentation, I think, since your last post, you must have read several other responses here which clearly indicate that some people do believe wine is essential to being a gourmet.

                                                                    2. re: ChefJune

                                                                      "When you make sweeping statements like the above, it seems a good idea to document it for validity's sake. For me, that is not a valid claim."

                                                                      ChefJune,

                                                                      Well, I have personally heard of similar statements. That is, unless you know wine and enjoy wine, then you don't know foods. Not many people say it, but there are definitely some. I understand that the original poster made a sweeping statement, but it is a narrow sweeping statement. He didn't say every food snobs say so, but some do, which I know to be true.

                                                                      It is probably too demanding or unrealistic to ask for documentation on matters like this. Exactly how would the original poster document this? Write down the names of the people and the time of occurance. And how would the original poster show this? Writing the names and the time on a public forum here? Even if he did (which would be very stupid of him), how would you know it is true and not fake. There is no easy way to validy it.

                                                                      Sorry that I didn't document these incidents either, but then I also don't document whenever a random drunk yell at me across the street.

                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                        It seems to me that the discussions regarding value with BYOB vs a licensed restaurant is really focusing on just that premise.

                                                                      2. I kinda think having SOME background in wines and wine pairing is as useful as having other skills in the kitchen or the general knowledge that would make one a "gourmet". Wine is so significant that it would be like considering yourself a gourmet without knowing anything about making desserts for example.

                                                                        33 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                          I know next to nothing about making desserts. Doesnt stop me enjoying other folk's handiwork.

                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                            Would you consider yourself a gourmet?

                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                              This is an interesting subdiscussion.

                                                                              "...it would be like considering yourself a gourmet without knowing anything about making desserts..."

                                                                              To be objective, Webster defines a gourmet as "a connoisseur of food and drink". Does a person have to know about how to make wine as opposed to just how to drink, appreciate, and assess it to some extent in order to be considered a gourmet?

                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                My expectation from a "gourmet" would be to have a broad appreciation for refined cooking and dining. A gourmet doesn't have to be a "baker" per se since that is sort of specialized but I'd expect basic abilities in that regard. I would not expect a gourmet to be a vintner or brewer but would expect him/her to have some familiarity with those products and their relationship with food.

                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                  So a gourmet cannot be a nonalcholic drinker? A Muslim can never be a goumet then? What about the fact that there are so many kind of alcoholic drink in this world. There is wine, and there is beer. There is sake and there is Scotch. What the original poster asking specifically is not so much about knowing the drink too. He was asking "some food snobs that would claim that you can't be a gourmet if you don't like wine"

                                                                                  So what about a Japanese who love sake, but not French wine. He cannot be a goumet because he does not like wine?

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    "So a gourmet cannot be a nonalcholic drinker?"

                                                                                    While I don't think it's absolute, the number of non-drinkers who are actual gourmets/foodies/etc. is much, much smaller. This is only based on my experience, but I've worked FOH in fine dining for the last 15 years.

                                                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                      invino,

                                                                                      Sure, but our experience is limited to our experience, and we should able to think outside of that experience sometime. The logic of nondrinker cannot be gourmet would wipe out the entire middleeastern (mostly Muslims), for example.

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        I said no absolutes.

                                                                                        Without alcohol, fewer flavor combinations exist. Alcohol opens the palate up to a whole other world of tastes. That much we agree on, right? I draw the conclusion that experiencing more tastes and flavors makes one more "gourmet"/foodie/'Houndy/whatever.

                                                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                          Right. I understand you have said "not absolute" and I appreciate it. What I tried to get at is that our experience is based on our experience. You probably don't know a lot of foodies who are non-alcholic drink because we live in a society where most people drink, but if you are to live in Iraq or Saudi, then your experience will be very different.

                                                                                          I think you are correct that alcohol does bring in a new level of taste. I think that is true, but I don't know if I can say this particlar "experience" is essential for being a foodie. One can argue that spices play a much more important role in Indian cuisine than many Western cuisine. Couldn't someone say that these particular spices open up new expereience and unless you like these spices, then you cannot be a gourmet or a foodie. Some people will say also "hot/spicy" open up a new level of experience as well, but I don't know if I would say that experience is required to be a gourmet. There are just so many things out there.

                                                                                          The issue with placing alcohol so high up in the requirement would wipe out the entire Middeeastern people and its cuisine. For example, one would then logically claim that Turkish cuisine is crap because alcohol plays a very small role there. In fact, we shouldn't even call it as Turkish cuisine because it is not a cuisine. Turkish people? Well, they don't know any thing about food. Why? Because they don't drink alcohol.

                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                            You have a fair point (one I don't necessarily disagree with), but I'm talking specifically about me/my heritage/my peers. I don't particularly care whether some dude in Turkey fancies himself a gourmet even though he doesn't drink (although Turkey is a poor example, as raki is fantastic, as are some Turkish wines- booze is popular there).

                                                                                            Call me provincial or whatever. I don't think you can compare countries. You can't win an arguement that way. The guy in Ugamoogabalooda won't consider you a food lover because you don't eat bugs. It's too random.

                                                                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                              Yes, Turkish is most relax country in the middle east. Still, wine is a small tole, so it can still pass as an example.

                                                                                              No, I am not trying to compare different people from different countries or different cuisine. I think it is probably ok to say wine is essential to become a French foodie because wine plays an important for example. I think it would stressing it to say wine is essential to become a foodie period.

                                                                                              Also there is a difference between cause-and-effect vs correlation. A different topic, but important nonetheless.

                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                The answer to the OPs question is no then. There is virtually nothing that one needs to know or appreciate to be considered a gourmet because we can always neatly cut around what we don't like. If your thing is gourmet hot dogs and you know your hot dogs and enjoy nothing else I guess you are a gourmet. I don't really think that but it's where this conversation has taken us.

                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                  I don't think so at all.

                                                                                                  It's a cheap and ineffective argument, imo, to liken eating only hot dogs and what most of us will understand is implied by your mention of doing so, to Chemicalkinetics' argument that there are entire, well developed and evolved (ie NOT munching on raw beetles in Ugamoogabalooda) cuisines that are enjoyed, refined, appreciated, and even carefully and painstakingly planned and prepared without any consideration for wine made of grapes.

                                                                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                    I don't know how one draws that line. What are the essentials that makes one a gourmet in any cuisine or one in general? We'll never come to a consensus. I think we all agree that it requires refined cooking and dining but to what extent? If it's limited to just one item like hot dogs or to a region or is national who draws a line and where?

                                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                      It is a subjective term. Therefore there is no need to reach a consensus.

                                                                                                      Many defintions of "gourmet" suggest one needs to be a "connoisseur". Another subjective term to be sure - but one perhaps more generally accepted. I'd suggest it involves both knowledge of a subject and the ability to discriminate between the good and the bad. I don't have the ability, for example, to be able to make a world class chocolate ganache - but I know what is involved and I know when I've eaten a good one.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                        I think, if I may, that it is best illustrated by your earlier statement that "Wine is so significant that it would be like considering yourself a gourmet ..."

                                                                                                        Well, wine is so significant in what? That is the question. It is just one type of dink which is not shared by most population in the world. I think it isn't just about "we can always neatly cut around what we don't like". Sure, some people tried wine many times and do not like it, and some people rarely tried it. You may not drink Kumis, but it probably has nothing to do with neatly cut around what you don't like.

                                                                                                        "If it's limited to just one item like hot dogs or to a region or is national who draws a line and where?"

                                                                                                        Yes, you are correct to imply that there is a problem of limiting to just one item like hot dogs or to just one region, but I am afriad that I have to point out the obvious here: this is EXACTLY why it is a problem of limiting to wine. By saying wine is absolute (which is very regional), it run into the same problem of saying turmeric is absolute or soy sauce is absolute or hot dog. Unless you love turmeric, you are not a gourmet or unless you love soy sauce, you are not a gourmet....or hot dog...etc.

                                                                                                        I suppose if one truely believes that, then it is what it is, but I think sometime people say things without full appreciation of the statement. I have heard many times people say that "unless you love wine, you don't have the slightest idea about foods". However, when you confront them and say "So you mean a Muslim cannot understand food, but a Christain can." Then, they will immediately say that is not what they meant at all. (Well, that is exactly what the statement CONCLUDES disregard what they meant). Then they might say, "Well, I only meant the Christains, not the Muslims. The Muslims can be gourmet without drinking wine." Ok, now, it get even more ridiculous. So now a Muslim can be a gourmet without tasting wine, but a Christain must like it. What logic is that? Can that person even hear what he/she is saying? At the end, they usually say things like "I will take that comment back."

                                                                                                        So I think it is fine if you truely believe wine is a "must" before becoming a foodie, but you should know exactly what that statement implies. That "wine-is-a-must" statement implies so many things which I would call silly. Aside from excluding people like modern Musliums or Mormons. It set up a very funny scenario. It implies that a modern Japanese who drinks wine has a chance of being a gourmet, but his ancestor from 17th century who had never heard of wine could have never been a gourmet. Do we know his ancestor? No. But because we know he did not know French wine, we can conclude that he does not know anything about foods. Really?

                                                                                                        So every single civilizations and human beings who wasn't blessed with wine was never a gourmet. There was no food gourmet in Japan until the introduction of wine and the enlightment from the Europeans. Same for those Chinese and Indians.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          I hear what you are saying. But in today's world any assumption you make can get you in trouble. If I meet a person living in NYC of Chinese or Indian descent who claim to be "gourmet" I could get in as much trouble assuming they are focused on the traditional foods of their particular ethnic group versus being focused on Western food or something in-between. But yes if a person is clearly focused on food from non-Western culture where wine is not significant then yes they could be a gourmet. But I honestly think if your focus is Western leaning then being uttterly ignorant of wine leaves a hole in your knowledge; whether you like it or not.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                            Chinon00,

                                                                                                            I think you are correct that wine can be very important in some of the Western cuisines, but my understanding that wine is only important for some of the Western cuisines. For example, the wine consumption per capita is high in countries like France and Italy, but much lower in countries like German, England or United States.

                                                                                                            http://www.wineinstitute.org/files/Pe...

                                                                                                            So my impression is that wine is only integral in, say, the French cuisine, but not so much in the German cuisine or Hungarian cuisine.

                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                              No I must draw the line somewhere. If you grew up in Berlin or Budapest as a Westerner and have no dietary restrictions and claim to be a "gourmet" and are utterly ignorant of wine and it's association with food there's an issue. Too steeped in Western culture. Great wine is made is Germany by the way.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                Chinon,

                                                                                                                What does dietary restriction have anything to do with it? If loving wine is essential to be gourmet, then that is what it is. If not, then it is what is it is as well. Like I said earlier, it is rather ridiculous to say a Christian has to love wine to be an expert in French foods, but a Muslim (dietary restricted) does not. That is illogical. If calculus math is essential to understand quantum mechanics, then it does not matter if you are Christian or Muslim or Black or Asian..., you just have to understand calculus to understand quantum mechanics. There should not be a "separate" rule if wine is as important as you claimed.

                                                                                                                By the way, there is a difference between ignorant of wine vs what the original poster said. He said that he does not like wine. You can beat me in chess, while I love chess more than you do. There is a distinction between understanding something vs liking something.

                                                                                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            Where do atheists fall in this argument? Or agnostics? I personally believe that one cannot be a gourmet unless they are a pagan.

                                                                                                            1. re: haggisdragon

                                                                                                              That is an excellent point, haggisdrago. I think I have been so narrowly discussing Christainity and Islam, but the fact is that many religions are paganism in their nature. I would say Taoism and Hindism and many other religions are polytheistic religions. You are correct, that many paganism restrict alcohol intake as well.

                                                                                                              As for Atheism, I would defer to my most respected writer, Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens love Scotch and especially Johnny Walker Black. As he nicely put it: "Breakfast for championl accept no substitutes".

                                                                                                              So I personally cannot believe anyone can be a foodie, unless they drink Johnny Walker Black.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                I'll go along with that! ;)

                                                                                                      2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                        Actually, I think that one may call themselves anything that they wish. Now, whether others will agree, is a totally different matter - but then "what do THEY know?"

                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                            The OP did not state that he/she does not drink alcohol but that he/she didn't like wine specifically. So I'm addressing the OP and his/her circumstance. When claiming gourmet status (and not stating any dietary restrictions cultural or otherwise) knowing nothing about wine leaves a huge whole in your repertoire; even if you don't really appreciate it all that much. If you prepare a great French meal but don't have the slightest clue as to which wine to pair with it then there's a gap in your knowledge.

                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                              As someone said upstream, it's a very Eurocentric perspective from which you are defining "gourmet". And I suspect you're ok with that. Being a lover of wine and wine and food pairings may make a person a gourmet in one respect, but I know a few French folk who are exactly that and also extremely chauvinistic and limited in their appreciation of other cuisines, which is a gap of another kind.

                                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                Yes I'm coming at this from a western perspective.

                                                                                              2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                Yes, I understand that you are addressing the original poster, and I think it is great. I am just saying that, if you will, wine is just one of the many alcholic drinks in this world. It is very European. To say "if someone know nothing about wine leaves a huge hole in your reportorie" is probably an overstatement. It takes little consideration of other cuisines in this world. I don't believe the original poster ask about being a French cuisine expert. He was just saying gourmet or foodie in genreal. One can definitely be a middle eastern cuisine expert without an understanding of French wine. Must like a French cuisine expert does not have to understand Japanese saki. Wine is not universal and not even remotely close to universal. Beer is much closer to that than wine.

                                                                                                There are probably more people in this world drink rice-based wine than grape-based wine. They could clearly also claim that unless a person understand rice wine, then the person is not a gourmet. I think these are very limited views.

                                                                                        2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                          Yes.

                                                                                          Although it's a pretentious word that I would rarely use in normal conversation. Or, even, some very abnormal conversations.

                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                            If you qualified your statement saying that you consider yourself a gourmet BUT that you know next to nothing about making desserts that would seem more appropriate and reasonable. To me dessert is too broad of a gastronomic category (that's not too removed from cooking) to not know something about if claiming to be a "gourmet".

                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                              You asked a question. You got my answer. It is irrelevent if you agree or disagree with my opinion of myself.

                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                Just an opinion. We can agree to disagree. No worries.

                                                                                            2. re: Harters

                                                                                              "Or, even, some very abnormal conversations."

                                                                                              Uh-oh, is this an admission of "abnormal conversations... ?" [Grin]

                                                                                              I agree about the pretentiousness of "gourmet," and rather shun the term, unless it's capitalized, and refers to a food magazine.

                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                      2. I haven't read all the posts yet, but I don't think you have to be an absolute wine lover to be considered a food lover as well. I absolutely love food and when I'm not at work I'm either cooking, eating, planning the next meal or reading food related material. When it comes to wine I love it, I love drinking it, but I know little about it. I simply drink what I enjoy while learning a little about it; I just do not actively seek new information about wine. I spend enough money pursuing my food heaven and I just can't afford to indulge a serious wine habit whilst I have a crippling shoe habit. When I've ruined my feet due to the high heels and can no longer buy them I may then turn my attention to excellent wine. Which suits me fine as I live right near one of Australia's finest wine regions :)

                                                                                        1. A snob is a snob, end of story. When l dine single, l rarely drink wine as too much alcohol. l have a pretty extensive wine cellar and it has been a hobby for decades, but only drink a few days a week. Do whatever makes you happy, fortunately in a world with too many rules, in this instance there is no 'right or wrong'

                                                                                          1. Who are these people that make this claim? Or is this largely hypothetical.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                              Certainly not hypothetical if you read the responses we have here.

                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                I was asking the OP.

                                                                                                I've read what's here. Nothing too compelling.

                                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                                  Compelling enough to show it is not hypothetical.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                    LOL. I guess we have different definitions.

                                                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                                                      :)

                                                                                            2. 'No wine' is perfectly fine.

                                                                                              1. Lots of people don't drink alcohol on principle and would consider themselves gourmets. Food is food and wine is wine. I like them together, but respect those who don't.

                                                                                                1. My take is this: The very vague notion of being a gourmet depends on location and time and is all relative. Imagine that you lived in a town somewhere in Europe in 1950. You could probably be considered the local gourmet with just a decent knowledge of high-end French cuisine. Most likely, there wouldn't be a whole lot of Chinese, Japanese, or Peruvian restaurants around, so you might be execused for not knowing how to use chop sticks, never having had sushi and sake, not knowing the differences between Mandarin and Cantonese, never having had a lomo saltado, etc., because very few people (if any) in your town would have had any exposure to those kinds of things. Even without that experience, you might still be the top dog in terms of food sophistication.

                                                                                                  However, if we fast-forward to 2011, the proliferation of ethnic restaurants combined with the enormous increase in world travel means that there are huge numbers of people who have a knowledge of and an appreciation for cuisines that include not just the traditional European ones, but Asian and Latin-American ones as well. And I don't think it's restricted to food but includes beverages as well whether it's black tea, sake, Belgian beer, or pisco sour. So anyone with considerable gaps in their knowlege about food and beverages would probably be considered a second-rate gourmet by today's standards including the 1950s guy from Europe. A lack of knowledge about wine would be one of many such possible knowledge gaps.

                                                                                                  Look at it this way. Consider three hypothetical guys:
                                                                                                  A: Knows nothing about wine because of religious alcohol restrictions.
                                                                                                  B: Never eats seafood due to allergies.
                                                                                                  C: Is a vegan for moral reasons and only eats bird seeds.

                                                                                                  Could these three guys possibly be considered as gourmets? My answer is that that they would most likely take a backseat as gourmets to people who don't have those constraints. And there are plenty of such unconstrained people.

                                                                                                  31 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                    "A: Knows nothing about wine because of religious alcohol restrictions.
                                                                                                    B: Nevever eats seafood due to allergies.
                                                                                                    C: Is a vegan for moral reasons and only eats bird seeds."

                                                                                                    I can understand your description of A and B. Bird seeds for C? Ha ha ha

                                                                                                    I do have a counterpoint to your thinking. I don't mean to a harsh criticism, but rather something for you to think about. For all we know, Albert Einstein was not excellent in math and definitely have trouble with quantum mechanics, yet he is an expert in other scientific fields, most noticeable for his contributions in special relativity and photoelectric effect. Would he not be considered as a great scientist and take a backseat due to his lacking in other scientific areas?

                                                                                                    Constraint, sure. Backseat, not so sure.

                                                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                      While I am less likely to follow the opinion of someone who doesn't eat seafood or spicy food, I would not kick them out of the 'gourmet' club. I know vegetarians whose opinions I respect.

                                                                                                      By contrast, I am probably less likely to follow the opinion of a 'wino' because I have the sneaking suspicion they are drunk while they are enjoying their gourmet food.

                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                        Every time I read a restaurant review of a fine dining establishment in the NY Times or San Francisco Chronicle, there are comments about the wine list, its breadth, pricing, etc. Seems kind of mandatory. I would conclude that if you are clueless about wine, you are unqualified to be a restaurant critic for a major publication. Same as the guy who doesn't eat seafood.

                                                                                                        1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                          "I would conclude that if you are clueless about wine, you are unqualified to be a restaurant critic for a major publication. "

                                                                                                          That may or may not be true, but being unqualified to be a restaurant critic for a publication is not the same as not being a foodie. Quite different. One is a business decision and the other is an artistic judgment. Einstein, refusing to accept many aspecst of quantum mechanics, would not make a very good reviewer for a scientific journal by today's standard, but he would still be a great scientist.

                                                                                                          As I have written many times here already. Association does not mean necessity. Just because a restaurant review of fine dining commented about the wine list, it does not mean it is essential for gourmet foods. The reviews probably also mentioned the waiters and waitresses, the duration before getting seated, the view, atmosphere.... none of these has anything to be the food being gourmet or not.

                                                                                                          Here, I just grabbed a NY Times review for Le Filet, Montreal

                                                                                                          Quote:
                                                                                                          "opened in February in a lovely spot just across from Parc Jeanne-Mance"

                                                                                                          "The serving staff — friendly, if a tad assertive"

                                                                                                          "as is the sleek dining room, accented by a huge portrait of a sea anemone behind the bar"

                                                                                                          "Not surprisingly, the wine list skews white, and has some excellent choices"

                                                                                                          Not everything that get mentioned has to do with the food being gourmet or not.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            It would if quantum mechanics articles were as common in science journals as apparently wine lists are in gourmet restaurants.

                                                                                                            And the OP stated: "Even though I consider myself at least a foodie and at most a GOURMET". Again calling oneself a gourmet carries far broader expectations than calling oneself a "foodie".

                                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                              "It would if quantum mechanics articles were as common in science journals as apparently wine lists are in gourmet restaurants. "

                                                                                                              Quantum mechanics is probably much more important to science than wine to gourmet restaurants.

                                                                                                              I am not sure what you mean by "It would if ...." What would? Einstein would not make a good reviewer or he would not be a good scientist? The two are not necessary the same.

                                                                                                              I wrote that Einstein probably won't make a very good reviewer for a science journal by today's standard because of his view on quantum mechanics theory. However, he would still be a great scientist, more so than any reviewers. So, while the lack of understanding of wine may hinder a person ability to write a restaurant review for NY Times (as I have acknowledged), it may not hinder the person from being a foodie.

                                                                                                              Writing for a restaurant review is not the same as being a true foodie. A video game reviewer is not necessary the best gamer. A sport writer is not necessary a good football player himself. A political commentator does not necessary make a good politician....etc.

                                                                                                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                              "The reviews probably also mentioned the waiters and waitresses, the duration before getting seated, the view, atmosphere.... none of these has anything to be the food being gourmet or not."

                                                                                                              But we established earlier that the wine list is a direct function of the ingredients, textures, flavors, etc of the food and that wine is meant to be consumed and paired with the food. The waitstaff, view, duration etc are not.

                                                                                                              As for my comments below concerning scientific journals I misread your post.

                                                                                                              Lastly a "foodie" can be someone passionate about anything (small or broad) regarding food in my opinion. It could be as limited as just street food or cupcakes or steak or cheesesteaks.. So I agree there are no particular expectations of a foodie other than passion for some food. Gourmet though is a far broader term.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                In the most common uses, 'foodie' implies that a person is highly interested in food. "Gourmet' implies that someone is knowledgeable about food.

                                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                  "But we established earlier that the wine list is a direct function of the ingredients, textures, flavors, etc of the food and that wine is meant to be consumed and paired with the food. The waitstaff, view, duration etc are not."

                                                                                                                  True. I was answering someone, as such those comments do not make much sense to you. The conversations between us are a bit further along. To reply to your point, did you get a chance to read my analogy using the barbecue sauce. I understand that there are so many posts. It is difficult to keep track, so here I cut and paste

                                                                                                                  "True. Some of the examples I wrote are exaggeration. I merely want to show that "association" alone is just association. I think barbecue sauce would probably be closer and more relevant. Some people, actually most people, made the sauces with the intention to be consumed with barbecue meat. Wine can be consumed on its own, not so for barbecue sauces. Barbecue sauces are really meant for barbecue. I am sure you can technically drink barbecue sauces on their own, but that would be very weird. So, if anything, I would argue that barbecue sauces have a tighter relationship with barbecue (meat) than wine have for any cuisines. Yet, some barbecue competitions are judged without the sauce. So obviously, the sauce is not a must. In fact, I can say the same for many gourmet dishes. In many competitions, foods and dishes are submitted on their own. The judges do not have to drink the wine to judge the food. I would argue that more often and not, the judges do not drink wine while judging dishes. This means the judges do not believe the wine is essential in tasting/judging the dishes."

                                                                                                                  "Gourmet though is a far broader term."

                                                                                                                  If gourmet is a far broader term in your definition, then why do we based on French cuisine and say not Chinese cuisine. Surely, soy sauce plays a huge role in Chinese cuisine, and Japanese knife work plays a very important role in Japanese sushi. So would you also say that understanding soy sauce and Japanese knife works are essentially to be a gourmet? And without a solid understanding of various soy sauces and Japanese knife skill, one cannot be called a gourmet? Or would we only be broad enough to include French cuisine, but narrow enough to exclude Chinese, Indian, Turkish foods.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                    I would say that in this day and age, not having a good understanding of Chinese or Japanese cuisine would count as serious dings when it comes to anyone's status as a gourmet. As would ignorance about Thai or Korean food, just as examples. And if you don't have an understanding of soju, would you be considered a connoisseur of Korean food? Or would you be considered a connoisseur of Japanese food if you have never tasted sake?

                                                                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                      nocharge,

                                                                                                                      Given there are so many different kinds of cuisines and different kind of alcoholic drink, I would think a person can be a gourmet without understanding one or two drinks. Seriously, how many people understanding all alcoholic drinks around the world, let's alone the foods and dishes. As such, I would say a person can be a food expert without understanding one or two items. Like you said, it would be difficult (though not impossible) that a person can claim to be a Japanese food critics without some understanding of sake. Yet, a person can be a general foodie without understanding sake.

                                                                                                                      For example, it is tough to claim to be a good Honda engineer without knowledge of Honda civic. However, it is possible to claim to be a great engineer without understanding of Honda civic. A great engineer does not need to know how to fix every cars in the world, and a great writer does not need to know how to write in every human languages.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                        Again, I don't think the beverage discussion should be constrained to alcoholic beverages. Would you consider a person to be a gourmet if that person lacks a basic knowledge about tea and coffee?

                                                                                                                        As for your general point, no person is going to have a complete knowledge of every cuisine and all of the beverages of this world. All I'm saying is that there are plenty of people, these days, with a wide variety of knowledge when it comes to food and beverages. If you admit to knowing nothing about wine, you'll lose a lot a bragging rights as a "gourmet."

                                                                                                                        1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                          "I don't think the beverage discussion should be constrained to alcoholic beverages"

                                                                                                                          Absolutely, but since the discussion was about wine, it is important to point out that there are many other alcoholic drink.

                                                                                                                          "All I'm saying is that there are plenty of people, these days, with a wide variety of knowledge when it comes to food and beverages."

                                                                                                                          Actually, it works the opposite and this is a well known phenomena. As variation number increases, it becomes more difficult to master all these variations. You see that in engineering, and you see that in science and every other disciplines.

                                                                                                                          I seriously doubt plenty of people know that much. Since you bought up tea, tea was originated from China and was highly regarded in Chinese culture. I really don't know many food critics know about the various Chinese tea upward hundred different kind of tea. Forget about the hundreds of Chinese tea, let's just talk about the top ten tea:

                                                                                                                          http://chinese-tea.net/10-famous-tea.htm

                                                                                                                          How many magazine food writers know about just these ten teas? When is the last time you read these tea from a NY Time restaurant review? This is just Chinese tea. We have not talked about Japanese tea or Korean tea or other beverages. After all these, we only talked about beverages and have not even touched on the foods.

                                                                                                                          To get back to the very origin point of this post, the post is not even about knowledge. It is about preference. Please read the original post again. It asked if a person can be a gourmet without LIKING wine.

                                                                                                                          "If you admit to knowing nothing about wine, you'll lose a lot a bragging rights as a "gourmet.""

                                                                                                                          That is a major point of these discussion. Some feel it is important. Other don't. As simple as this. As for bragging right, well, I guess it depends who you are bragging to.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                            I totally think that a deep knowledge of Chinese tea would count as a positive for your credentials as a gourmet. So would a deep knowledge about French wine. A lack of knowledge in either area would count against you. As for actually LIKING something, I would think that a very picky and unadventurous eater would have a hard time accumulating the kind of knowledge and experience about different cuisines that one would assume a gourmet to have. Moreover, in regards to the issue of LIKING it, in my experience, many traditional gourmet food items are very much a matter of acquired taste.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                      The question comes back to if you are a BBQ master can you be ignorant of BBQ sauces and their relationship with BBQ? The answer to me certainly would be no. It's an expected part of the cuisine. You don't have to like it but it would be quite odd to not find any BBQ sauce in a BBQ restaurant.
                                                                                                                      As for gourmet being a broad term I wanted to simply distinguish it from the term foodie which to me can be a much more localized term and not even require one to cook. A gourmet should be skillful in the kitchen broadly and be familiar with more high end ingredients and decadent preparations. In the West this includes wine. In other cultures maybe not.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                        "if you are a BBQ master can you be ignorant of BBQ sauces and their relationship with BBQ? The answer to me certainly would be no."

                                                                                                                        Agree. You are expected to know something about the sauce, but I don't think you need to be an expert in sauce making, and certainly you can with a BBQ competition without making the sauce. That is true.

                                                                                                                        "You don't have to like it but it would be quite odd to not find any BBQ sauce in a BBQ restaurant."

                                                                                                                        I agree that you will find BBQ sauces served in most BBQ restaurants, just like the fact that you will find wine served in many Western restaurant, but those close relationship may not have turned into "necessity". You probably heard of that some people consume the BBQ without the sauce. This is why some barbecue competitions are judged without the sauce. If sauce is a necessity, then there is no reason why so many competitions allow "no sauce". As mentioned before, many food judges taste the foods without wine. They are important, but not so important that a person needs to use barbecue sauce or use wine to taste the foods.

                                                                                                                        "In the West this includes wine"

                                                                                                                        Probably.

                                                                                                                        'In other cultures maybe not."

                                                                                                                        Mostly likely not.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                          When it comes to BBQ, there are some places, where any sauce will get you highly ridiculed, and looked down upon. Many pit-masters in those areas, probably know little about any sauces, though might have picked up some tid-bits, from travels, or reading. Still, they would be highly offended, if anyone added any sauce to their BBQ.

                                                                                                                          In other areas for world, the sauce is the THING, so would be an integral part of the BBQ.

                                                                                                                          Just depends,

                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                            Yup. An old business associate of mine now sells a 'bbq sauce' on line. He's in North Carolina so his "sauce" is really a braising/brining mixture for pork butt/ shoulder, etc. that you add cider vinegar to.. I bought some and wound up doctoring it up with ketchup, molasses, honey, worschestershire and garlic so I could thicken it and use it as a finishing sauce for ribs. I'm not into pulled pork as I am into ribs. Maybe next time. But I'm thinking Raleigh Q is not about sauce.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                    Given how many wannabe restaurant critics there are out there, being unqualified to be a critic would be an indictment of your status as a gourmet. Again, it's relative. If there are a huge number of people with broader knowledge of and appreciation for all kinds of food and beverages than you have, you're probably not much of a gourmet.

                                                                                                                    As for association and necessity: Comments about the quality of service in a restaurant review are hardly accidental -- they are an essential part of the review. If comments about the wine list are also considered mandatory, doesn't that tell you something about the role of wine in conjunction with fine dining?

                                                                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                      "As for association and necessity: Comments about the quality of service in a restaurant review are hardly accidental -- they are an essential part of the review. If comments about the wine list are also considered mandatory, doesn't that tell you something about the role of wine in conjunction with fine dining?"

                                                                                                                      I agree, except we are not discussing "the role of wine in fine dining". I would have agreed with you if that is what we are discussing. My understanding is that we are discussing "the role of wine in understanding cuisine". Two different things. I don't disagree that quality of service is very important in fine dining.

                                                                                                                      Think of it this way, when you shop for a pair of dress shoes, isn't it nice to have customer service? Yes. However, good service does not prove knowledge in shoes. Completely unrelated. As such, I can argue that good service, good wine list is not related to knowledge of foods.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                        I think that in order to be considered a gourmet, you need a broad knowledge not just of food, but of beverages as well -- both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. I don't think you can fully appreciate a cuisine without an understanding of its commonly associated beverages.

                                                                                                                      2. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                        You seem to be hung up on 'fine dining' as the definition of gourmet. Spicy food or certain ingredients (like tongue) are pretty much non-existent in fine dining, but can you be a gourmet and not eat those? Fine Dining is the tunnel vision of being a gourmet. If that suits your definition then I guess it serves you well, but I reject your interpretation.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                          My definition of a gourmet is a person who can appreciate and understand ethnic food from a street stand in a third-world country but would be equally at ease having a glass of fancy champagne at Le Bernadin understanding how it would pair with the food there. If you limit yourself to just one or the other, you lose points on any claim of being a gourmet.

                                                                                                                          1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                            Yes, it's better to not have limitations, I agree. But I can respect a vegetarian gourmet even though that cuts out a whole lot of pleasurable eating.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                              I'm wondering though can my personal view of gourmet be applied to a vegetarian meal. I mean what's an over the top decadent vegetarian meal? Sure truffles could be included with other exotic mushrooms maybe but what else is vegetarian and indulgent?

                                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                Tofu and gluten, in many forms, with highly finessed textural and flavour control, which would be typical of a Chinese vegetarian banquet.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                  This (click the menu tab):

                                                                                                                                  http://www.oneluckyduck.com/purefooda...

                                                                                                                                  And this:

                                                                                                                                  http://www.tkrg.org/upload/ps_menu.pdf

                                                                                                                                  1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                    So I'll know where you're coming from what's the most decadent/ indulgent item on either menu and why?

                                                                                                                                    Thanks

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                      Decadence is in the mouth of the beholder, of course, but for me it means food with a high fat content. And I'd define gourmet food as food that uses expensive ingredients and is perhaps (but not necessarily) difficult and/or complicated to prepare. So the porcini ravioli in truffle cream sauce at Pure Food & Wine would qualify, as would the brazil nut crusted almond and sea vegetable croquettes. From Per Se's menu, the sweet corn velouté sounds like it fits this category, as does the gorgonzola cremificato, because 1) it involves a "ruby beet tuile" and 2) I had to look up cremificato.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                        I agree and this post has opened my eyes a tad to what can qualify as "decadent/ indulgent"; despite not being meat based: avocado, nuts, that fungus that grows on corn, porcini and of course truffles.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                    While it's true that meat dishes will generally be a lot more expensive, there are lots of veggie dishes that are labor intensive, pretty to look at, and very rich in flavor and calories. I'd call these gourmet and maybe even decadent: Wild mushroom bread pudding, vegetarian bstilla, eggplant with saffron sauce, heirloom tomato tart.

                                                                                                                                    I think you have to work harder on presentation to pull off a vegetarian meal that you'd call gourmet, though, whereas with any meat meal, you just lay a bed of farro/risotto/lentils, etc on a pretty plate, layer some steamed greens, then put your nicely browned slab of protein on top and drizzle on the sauce. This is what most American "gourmet" places will serve you.

                                                                                                                                    Good, but not as creative as many vegetarian meals, and why, oh why, doesn't anybody serve me enough gnocchi? You can keep half that beef if you just give me another spoonful of starchy carby stuff!

                                                                                                                  3. Seems to me this debate is about whether experience or understanding constitutes gourmet. Frankly, I think it's narrow-minded to assume that one must be able to participate in an event in order to appreciate it. Must an art critic be able to draw well in order to appreciate what makes good art? While first-hand knowledge certainly enhances ones enjoyment of an experience, it's not integral to said enjoyment, or even understanding.

                                                                                                                    As in the above example, one can be a paid professional gourmet chef while not being able to eat everything they cook (due to allergy). This can actually be said of every single person replying to this question. One might be allergic to tree nuts; another might be a cilantro soap-taster, and still others might be religiously or philosophically opposed to any number of ingredients. You don't even really need to have a reason - maybe you just don't care much for jicama. But does that mean one cannot qualify as a gourmet because they are unable or unwilling to consume any one component?

                                                                                                                    The point is, one does not need to personally experience and enjoy every single particle of food or drink from any and all cultures and climes to have a wide and insightful understanding of how those food and drinks can combine to produce a gourmet experience.

                                                                                                                    And Chemicalkinetics, over 9000 internets to you, sir!

                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: emilyjh75

                                                                                                                      I agree that one can hate 99.9% of all food but as long as it doesn't inhibit his/ her ability to be a gourmet he or she can be a gourmet. My issue is the level of ignorance (not personal tastes). What dictates ignorance is dependent upon your claim. If you claim to be a French gourmet there is no room for ignorance of wine and it's relationship with food.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                        I agree, but you're talking about ignorance, whereas the OP is talking about personal tastes. One can have an academic understanding of wines and food, and not personally partake, and still be gourmet. I think all would agree that a person who claims ignorance of any basic cultural food component could not be considered a gourmet. The ability to provide a gourmet experience is based in knowledge and intuition, not necessarily participation.

                                                                                                                      2. re: emilyjh75

                                                                                                                        "And Chemicalkinetics, over 9000 internets to you, sir!"

                                                                                                                        Do you mean I wrote more than 9000 entries? How do you get that number? Thanks.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                          Hahaha, sorry that was my nerdiness showing. It's a reference to a meme on Memebase.com. It basically means I liked your replies so much I awarded you an arbitrarily high number of theoretical points.

                                                                                                                        2. re: emilyjh75

                                                                                                                          How well can you understand food and beverages that you never consume? Let's say you don't eat seafood for whatever reason. So you have never had ceviche, never compared maguro and toro, never tasted smoked salmon or raw oysters. Could you still have a gourmet appreciation for seafood? How would you have gotten that appreciation? From reading a book?

                                                                                                                          As for chefs who don't eat what they cook, generally I wouldn't trust their ability to create interesting dishes they can't taste. Many years ago, I ran into a guy who was the executive chef at a place specializing in prime rib and who, after a few drinks, admitted to not liking red meat. The place where he worked had been preparing prime rib the same way since 1949, so there wasn't any particular need for creativity on his part. At the time, I thought to myself that this prime rib restaurant was probably one of very few places that could get away with having an executive chef that doesn't like to eat his own food.

                                                                                                                          1. re: emilyjh75

                                                                                                                            I guess I don't care whether anyone calls themselves a 'gourmet' or not, or what their personal criteria for gourmandom is. But don't you think that there is a kind of knowledge that only comes with experiencing a food, rather than just reading about it? Just as there is a kind of knowledge that comes from cooking food rather than just eating it.

                                                                                                                            I'm not saying that someone can't know a lot about food despite not having a wide range of experiences. But your post sort of makes it out like experiences and gaining other perspectives doesn't matter.

                                                                                                                            1. re: emilyjh75

                                                                                                                              @nocharge and @cowboyardee

                                                                                                                              Yes, sorry, I didn't mean to sound like having experience doesn't count for anything. It certainly does, and you might even be able to argue that the more personal experience a chef has with food, the better he would naturally be. I just meant that *not* having personally experienced something does not necessarily preclude someone from being considered gourmet, either in their tastes or their execution. Certainly I've tried a few new recipes which I'd never before tasted personally, but which came out (according to others) spot on! Which, btw, is also how one might gain that understanding - by watching others and getting feedback, as well as reading up on a subject.