We are going about wine the wrong way ’round.
There are rules about matching the right wine to your food, and there are rules that say that the first rule is that there are no rules. So the idea is that you once you have decided on your food, you then select a wine according to its compatibility with the dish offered. But if you really love wine, and you think that the bottle is the real prima donna of the table, it seems that we are going about it backwards.
I can’t put a finger on where I first learned it, or who taught it to me, but ever since I can remember I associate certain types of wine with certain foods. If I think of Chianti, I think of Gnocchi alla Puttanesca; if I see a bottle of Liebefraumilch, I think a raclette; a translucent rose send me into a cravings for mussels. My interpretation is the following:
At some point, I had a delicious meal, memorable either for its opulence or its simplicity, and the wine that accompanied it is forever married to that memory.
So here is what I propose. Instead of pairing the wine to the food, let’s pair the food to the wine! Go to your wine merchant (or go online) and select your bottle. Then once the bottle is in your hands, look at it for a while. Open, sniff, taste…what does it speak of? Steak? Seafood? Pasta? Salad? Finger food with friends? There you go! Prepare the meal, or order in, and you have the perfect couple! The food is but an excuse to enjoy that wonderful bottle of goodness.