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Q:what type of wine is best with red meat?

laura,
New York
A:That's a very broad question. But take a look at my answer to the extensive food and wine paring question under ask the sommelier. I gave a long winded answer on food and wine pairing. But if you have to have the answer now - red wine. Red meat cuts through the tannin of red wine. And remember, the richer the meat, the higher the alcohol in the wine.

--by Greg Harrington, MS
--


Q:Hi,

I have a few questions actually.

1. Should you drink wine with soup and if so, what would go with a chestnut soup?

2. Would you please recommend wines for a main course of roast lamb chops with rosemary butter and roasted baby vegetables?

3. I am making poached pears with a redwine/port sauce. Should and can any wines be served with this since the sauce contains wines?

4. What would go with a mixed baby green salad with balsamic vinagrette? The salad also contains goat cheese, walnuts and beets.

As you can see, all of these courses are for the same meal. Should more than one wine be drank for one meal and if so, should you stick to just reds, just whites or can you mix?

Thank you very much.

Yolanda Padilla

yolanda padilla,
new york, ny
A:Ok, lots of questions here, but we are getting down to the basics of food and wine pairing 101. Its actually pretty simple in theory. This is how you should look at food and wine pairing when you first start out.
- what is the base of the dish
o is it light or heavy?
- Is the sauce primarily acidic or rich
- Are the overall flavors primarily fruity or earthy
- Are there any curve ball ingredients like hot or sweet?

You are going to match each component of the food to the wine.
- Light foods get low alcohol wines. Rich foods get high alcohol wines. (Just take a look at the bottle and use 13% for whites, 13.5% for reds as the cutoff)
- Acidic foods get cool region wines. Rich foods get warm region wines. Think of vacation. If you go to the region to ski, its cold. If you go there to swim, its warm.
- Fruity dishes get wines from New World regions. Earthy dishes get wines from Old World regions. Use the king and queen test. If in the 1400s they had a king/queen, its old world. Anyplace they send the Christopher Columbus types or prisoners, New World.
- Ill walk you through the curve balls.

This is the easiest way to pair food and wine. You can contrast flavors, weight as well, but its more difficult.

And Ill give you the secret to white wine pairing. This works very well. You can break 90% of all whites into 2 camps  wines that are aged in oak and wines that are not. If a wine is aged in oak, think of it like butter. If you can put butter on the food, the pairing will work. Wines without oak should be thought of like limes. If you can put a lime on the food, the paring will work.

So lets go through each of these.

1. Soup.
a. Base is cream (?)
b. Dish is rich
c. Overall flavors are earthy (chestnut)
d. Soup itself is a curve ball
Im kind of going against the above advice, but this is a relatively tricky pairing. My first inkling is White Burgundy, because of its inherent nuttiness, but you will have to taste to decide. Sherry would be a great pair, but off the beaten path. I think the best way to approach this is to punt and use the same wine as the salad pairing.

Lamb chops with rosemary butter and roasted baby vegetables?
a. what is the base of the dish - rich
b. Is the sauce primarily acidic or rich  rich (meat juices)
c. Are the overall flavors primarily fruity or earthy (earthy  lamb and rosemary)
d. Are there any curve ball ingredients like hot or sweet? This is a banker.

The classic pair is Bordeaux. The more well done you like the food, the older the vintage. Young wines pair well with the juiciness of the meat, which breaks down the tannin in the wine. Our brethren on the rainy island abroad pair shoe leather with the old clarets.

I am making poached pears with a redwine/port sauce. Should and can any wines be served with this since the sauce contains wines?

Curve ball here. This depends how sweet the resultant sauce is. Harrington Wine Law (Im up for a Nobel prize for this, so please pay attention). If you have sweetness in a dish, the wine must be sweeter than the food. I like white, off dry wines here. Yes, its a red wine sauce, but I think the red stickies, like lighter Port, will overwhelm the pear. Off dry Riesling from various places  Germany, Australia, Moscato dAsti (if the sauce is only slightly sweet), Muscat based dessert wines.

4. What would go with a mixed baby green salad with balsamic vinaigrette? The salad also contains goat cheese, walnuts and beets.

Ill let you work through my thinking on this on your own as a test. Answer - Sauvignon blanc from a cool region. Sancerre or New Zealand.

--by Greg Harrington, MS
--B.R. Guest

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