Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New York Times, white wine, cheese, snobbery

Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece by Florence Fabricant in the Magazine section on white wine paired with cheese. The fundamental argument is sound (and has been made before), but several details along the way made me very disgruntled.

1. Name-dropping + absurd reductionism:

"Ever since I was taught, by none other than Aubert de Villaine, an owner of the esteemed Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy, that good red wine is not flattered by cheese, I have been annoying restaurateurs and friends on the subject. With cheeses, de Villaine pours Le Montrachet, a buttery white Burgundy, never his top-of-the-line reds."

So, Le Montrachet is just a trifle, alongside the reds? Um?

2. Fabricant's conclusion:

"My personal theory is that the fixation on red wine with cheese is a Victorian English conceit. Dinners in which women participated were usually served with white wine, typically riesling. At the end of the meal, the men retreated to the library to drink clarets and ports with cheese, none of which were considered proper comestibles for fine ladies."

Yet, at the beginning:

"Christine Salsedo seemed somewhat surprised. 'Most of the time people drink red with cheese,' she said. 'We’re French, so we definitely prefer red.'"

Claret with cheese is a British invention? Yet the accusation is that the country that makes the cheese is traditionally interested in pairing with reds? Quelle disconnect.

3. "The selection included a St.-Marcellin, one of my favorites. 'Do you have any white wines by the glass?' I asked."

Whatever the validity of whites with cheese, St-Marcellin is not one of them. It cries out for Beaujolais.

Please, please, just make this woman go away.

End of extremely annoyed post.


Lyle Fass said...

Most wine writing is so poor these days it is a shame they are even being published as most of it reeks of snobbishness, ridiculous wine proclamations based on nothing and just plain ignorance. Bloggers are the future of wine writing. The new guard is here.

Sharon said...

I used to have friends who hated this woman from the times (not personally, I assume, but because of her articles), but I was always indifferent until now.

It's good sometimes to feel indignant.

But the other side of the coin is that though blogs and other nontraditional sources offer some of the best writing (I agree - and I'd put Rockss and Fruit right up top), they don't have the sweeping impact or staying power.

Or will they?

Elliot Essman said...

Remember, unlike bloggers, these people have to write and fill paper on schedule, whether they have ideas or not. Ideas and insights, of course, should always come first.

Sharon said...

Right, but replacing ideas with, "So, the Queen of England knocks on the door and says..."?

There are so many possible things to write about; the ways they get written about say a lot about the writer...