Wine Dharma

August 2013

DharMag August 2013 Food and Wine: the perfect art of pairing

Pumpkin ravioli, a typical recipe from Ferrara. The suggested wine is a Fortana. Pumpkin ravioli are usually paired with a juicy, zippy Fortana Bosco Eliceo, but Sauvignon is perfect too We’re living in the golden age of wine. Anywhere in the world, production and consumption are becoming more aware, and never before has the wine industry been more generous and affordable. Wines from Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Italy, France are available on the shelves of every well-stocked store, and are only waiting to be tasted and paired.

The same can be said for the cuisines of the whole world. Curry, laska, tacos, pastel de choclo, asado, kebab—the possibilities are limited only by our desire to learn: each of us is a citizen of the world, and as such should embrace a global vision of taste. The time for ready-made pairings (such as Chianti-lasagna-spaghetti and meatballs) is over. We can go beyond that, break down the borders. What is keeping us from pairing that same Chianti with a bibimbap or some spicy beef with black beans?

Fields of poppy. Tuscany. South East of Siena, between Siena and Montepulciano. Which wine would you like to drink in this lovely landscape? It’s important to take it easy at first and limit the eccentricity: create a comfort zone where everything is balanced, centered on classic, better-known pairings. After all, wine and food exist to satisfy the belly, and there’s nothing wrong with accompanying a good barbecue with a bottle of Cabernet. Ok, this is the first baby step, because, nothing is more dangerous than the sated knowledge of someone who thinks he’s reached the truth. Let’s make our own the socratic motto of knowing we know nothing. Let’s join the fight.

Wine is pliable and always evolving, just like food habits: in the past, the Barolo was palatable and was left to refine in vats under roofs, even by more modest families. Nonetheless, it has grown into a wonderful swan, a timeless classic (although timeless may be too strong a word, since wine is subject to fashion and marketing). This is where the best part is: researching, discovering those producers who still do things according to tradition, and comparing them with those who have broken out of those chains. We’ll see who was right, and if it was worth it in the end.

Gewürztraminer Domaine Zind Humbrecht 2004 paired with somali rice and meatball The ultimate pairing: somali rice and meatballs with Gewürztraminer from Zind Humbrecht What drives us is human curiosity and a keenness for challenges, not the primitive mechanics of pleasure, nor the fruitlessly contemplation of wine in itself. Tannic wines provoke the salivation required to deal with the juiciness of meat. What else can we do? Let’s work on the meat with marinades, crust-baking, tempura. We should not limit ourselves with the traditional territorial conventions, and let’s embrace the discovery of foreign techniques. When we make pairings use all dimensions of wine, its body, its alcohol, as if it were just a missing ingredient for our recipes. Wine is fruity, spicy, sweet, so why not making sauces using the same nuances, but sweet and sour. Balance sounds appealing, but we could also try to reach the breaking point by varying the cooking styles, changing the recipes, reducing the spiciness of Asian dishes to adjust the flavors. There is no better wine taster than one who has a passion for food. When imagining a pairing, wine and food should come up in the same thought, to create a single body.

First rule of our Dharma: drink what you don’t know. Make mistakes, but never lose heart.

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