Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Food, simply, or wine, simply
One weekend day this summer, I was deep within a cold cellar, talking with a fellow wine geek. We were slurping at a 1997 Clape Cornas (wonderfully funky, like an exploding cherry tinged with brettanomyces) and started evoking the visions of food that were beginning to shimmer into solidity in our minds as we tasted it. I was thinking something simple: a grilled piece of meat, or some such.
And then I had to admit that I carry around a little box of index cards in my head – this food goes with that wine; never pair such-and-such with such-and-such – but despite it all, and despite many pairings in the course of my life, I don't usually get much out of it. I'm never awed and pleased at a thunderously good pairing, or disgusted and outraged at something that skews wrong or falls flat. I guess you could say that, in short, things don't flow together, vinously and culinarily, creating a melded whole that works or does not, for me.
Instead of looking at me strangely, my fellow wine geek said there was a much simpler rule: just make sure the two don't fight. Not only jarring pairings, but the complexity angle. His rule, which I found persuasive, is that a complex wine needs a simple food for it to show its many facets; a complex dish needs a simple, well-built wine.
So here's to a tricky culinary act of complication with a frank and pleasant Dolcetto or Chinon, a standby Sauvignon.
And then to sipping at a lovely Jean-Marc Brignot Trousseau with a piece of meat. A gorgeously twisty and leesy Valette Mâcon-Chaîntré VV with some whelks. A bottle of really old moelleux Huet with foie gras. (Huh?)
I wonder what I might have with foie gras, actually.
I mean, it's really a staple.