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Wine And Food Pairings

I maintain that the "art" of pairing wine with certain food dishes is a sham and an affectation. An entire industry has developed which includes books, charts, lists, etc., not to mention "sommeliers" that claim to have some arcane wisdom based on what I consider to be snobbery, imagination and fantasy. I refuse to be taken in by these self-proclaimed so-called "experts". Phooey!

"To each his own" is my motto.

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  1. That is certainly your prerogative. Most sommeliers (not sure about your quotation marks) know wine better than you, but I doubt that they would force their expertise on your revolutionary self if you do not wish to be bothered with such "nonsense".

    9 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      This response seems needlessly snarky.

      It IS nonsense. Nobody has my palate, so only I know what is good -- to ME -- with certain foods.

      The mystique and the almost pedantic fixation on wine and food pairings is in my opinion one of the signs of the "I am a GOURMET" mentality.

      1. re: jmckee

        Duh. The point isn't a subjective "but will I like it?" That only comes from experience. But there are definitely flavor profiles to wine and knowing what works well with what you're eating is a helpful first step. It's not nonsense, it's rooted in a practical set of rules.

        If you go to a restaurant with an unfamiliar wine list you can't ask for something you'd like if you've never tried any of them. Having a guide who will work through it with you is unquestionably helpful.

        1. re: ferret

          Do you ever consider the possibility that the "expert" recommendation might have something to do with the price of the wine? Or am I just being my old cynical self?
          By the way: How are sommeliers paid? By commission, perhaps?
          I recall a steak house restauranteur confiding that most patrons have no idea about wines and can be talked into buying almost anything. And after loading up on garlic bread, their taste buds are so numbed that they can have no idea of what they are sampling. Have you ever heard of anyone rejecting a sommellier's choice? Most patrons are too intimidated to even consider such an act of blasphemy. Bah humbug!

          1. re: Doctormhl1

            As a consumer it's pretty easy to say "what do you recommend in the $20 range." You have free will. It's a service, no more, no less. If you don't believe it has any value then there's your answer. For others it's a reasonable way to get exposed to a new wine

            1. re: Doctormhl1

              I think you're being cynical. I've only been to a place with a sommelier a handful of times. In each case, they recommended wines at a range of price points. After asking me questions about my wine preferences. Then explaining why they were recommending each based on my preferences and my food orders. But always, always a range of price points.

              1. re: Doctormhl1

                >>Have you ever heard of anyone rejecting a sommellier's choice?

                Yes, I heard, I did it many times, plus the premise of your question is all wrong - sommeliers I met offered more than one choice, offered many choices in different price groups, etc. so your insinuation that they want to 'take you in' or force their wine choices on you is preposterous. I suggest you actually talk to a 'real' sommelier one day, after reading your tirades I get impression you actually never spoke with one.

                1. re: Doctormhl1

                  At the risk of feeding the trolls . . .

                  >>> Do you ever consider the possibility that the "expert" recommendation might have something to do with the price of the wine? <<<

                  No. Many customers will state an approximate price range, and, in fact, most sommeliers will ASK several questions prior to making any specific suggestions. Among these are: a) what are you (the patron[s]) having for dinner, b) what sort of wines do you enjoy, and c) HOW MUCH DO YOU WISH TO SPEND?

                  >>> Or am I just being my old cynical self? <<<

                  Well, who am I to disagree?

                  >>> By the way: How are sommeliers paid? By commission, perhaps? <<<

                  It all depends upon the establishment. Obviously a Michelin 3-star is quite different than the little bistro down the block. Some do get a commission, generally based upon annual sales. Others get paid a annual salary (rather than an hourly wage), plus tips -- either given directly to the sommelier, or "tipped out" by the other members of the waitstaff. (Salaries, as opposed to wages, are the norm if the sommelier is also involved in being the wine buyer and/or bar manager, responsible for all purchases, updating the wine list, and teaching other members of the staff about the wines.) And still other places pay their sommelier by the hour, just like the rest of the wait staff.

                  >>> I recall a steak house restauranteur confiding that most patrons have no idea about wines and can be talked into buying almost anything. <<<

                  Yes, well, a) there are people who are gullible AND people who are cynical; people who are knowledgable AND people who can't remember how to tie their own shoelace; and b) remind me NEVER t peat that that person's restaurant.

                  >>> And after loading up on garlic bread, their taste buds are so numbed that they can have no idea of what they are sampling. <<<

                  Who the heck fills up on garlic bread? And, I don't know about you, but most of the the time most people have ordered their wine(s) long before the garlic bread ever arrives . . .

                  >>> Have you ever heard of anyone rejecting a sommellier's choice? <<<

                  Yes. Certainly. And as olasek has already pointed out, most sommeliers NEVER make only one suggestion, but always two or three choices. (I know I always did.)

                  >>> Most patrons are too intimidated to even consider such an act of blasphemy. Bah humbug! <<<

                  Well, you know the old saying, one man's bah humbug is another's bull$#|+ . . . .

                  1. re: zin1953

                    Sorry, but the last time I used the word troll here I was deleted. Jason, your patience is commendable.

                  2. re: Doctormhl1

                    "Or am I just being my old cynical self?"

                    Yes.

            2. There's a lot to be said for "drink what you like" but there is an art to wine pairing much like there's an art to balancing flavors in a recipe.

              1. You, sir, are a wise man. All wine goes with all foods, even Goo Goo Clusters.

                2 Replies
                1. re: beevod

                  Or in the words of the late, great Justin Wilson: "What kind wine to drink wit' dis fine food? Why hell -- the kind you like best, that's what kind."

                2. Ah, I see now that you are the same poster who doesn't taste (or understand) the differences between various vinegars.

                  That 'splains a lot.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: linguafood

                    You may have a point, linguafood.
                    At age 76, perhaps my taste buds have atrophied to the point that they no longer function properly.
                    Nevertheless, since I have to deal with reality as I personally preceive it, I stubbornly persist in my curmudgeonly attitudes.

                  2. Drink what you want with whatever you want to eat. Your food & wine your choice, I agree. That said, you are horribly naive if you think there isn't a huge difference in pairing certain wines with certain foods. But I would also agree it is an over-rated philosophy.