Non-Alcoholic Pairings for Tasting Menus
I'm not much of a drinker, and I rarely do pairings. I understand that the different wines can really enhance a dish but I don't have the tolerance, or the appreciation to choose to partake. The benefit to me is generally cost and calories.
However, there are some menus where rather than letting the diner opt out of pairings, they provide a non-alcoholic alternative at the same cost. My question is two-fold:
1) Do you feel like NA parings are a lesser value?
2) Can NA pairings,mock-tails,etc. ever compliment a dish as well as wine or spirits?
Question 1 - From a shear cost standpoint yes it is of a lesser value. But if you don't enjoy for booze what difference does it make? It won't be of any "value" to you.
Question 2 - Can non-alcoholic beverages pair as well as wine? I really can't say for sure. I can see coffee or tea pairing well with certain dishes. Both are often consumed with desserts, cheeses, scones. Whatever the beverage it should be able to cleanse the palate first and foremost. That's the primary function of beverage pairing at least savory pairings. Therefore of non-alcoholic choices besides the aforementioned coffee or tea would be anything sharp and drier like a strong lemon or lime beverage low in sweetness.
What do you mean by value ? value to the customer ?
Have a look at Noma (google noma juice pairing); the restaurant does a "juice" pairing with its tasting menu (they also do wine pairing).
I think if the juices are well made, they can add to the experience of the meal in a way that wine might not; one can make a juice that would be closer than wine to the taste of a particular dish.
On the other hand, juice (or fake non-alcoholic) might not be easier on the calories compared to wines.
1) Yes, I do feel that they are a lesser value, and for that reason, wouldn't even consider question 2.
My father drank scotch with everything because he liked scotch. He wasn't pairing he just drank what he liked. So I'd suggest you have what you like (mock-tails, etc) and forget about pairing; because once you've excluded wine, pairing becomes a much more difficult feat in my opinion.
1. On a pure dollar-for-dollar basis, yes. But if you don't enjoy or drink alcohol, then letting it go to waste is probably even less of a value.