I am a big lover of travel, especially when it involves food and wine. There is no better way to learn about a culture and what it holds dear than tasting its foods and wines and sharing them with the people who produce them. These experiences are my most dear travel souvenirs. I will give up an afternoon of shoe shopping so I can go seek out an interesting wine and taste a bite of local food.
When I have to be closer to home for a while, I satisfy my thirst for travel by tasting the foods and wines of far-flung regions, from sunny Greece to cool Bordeaux to sunny but cold Alsace.
The wines of the historic wine regions of Europe, which have developed over many centuries, naturally pair well with the foods of those regions: in the past, when transportation was not easy, the people of those regions ate the foods they grew and the wines they made. To a certain extent, this is still the case. So, when cooking and pairing wines at home, let you imagination be guided by what the people in that region eat and drink.
As summer approaches, think of pairing your tomato and mozzarella salad with Falanghina, the historic wine of Campania, the home of tomato and mozzarella salad.
For simply prepared white fish with a drizzle of lemon, turn to Greek Moscofilero: zesty and fresh. The pairing will make you feel like you’re halfway to the sunny Greek coast.
And if you prefer to start imagining your meal by choosing the wine first, as I often do, no problem. Rosé from the South of France? Sure, why not pair with it with ratatouille, the legendary dish of the South.
A smooth Argentine Malbec? It sings with a grilled skirt steak, especially if you add some mild chimichurri sauce.
A silky Rioja is matched to perfection by aged manchego and jamon iberico, the dry-cured ham the Spanish swear by.
And after you’ve wowed your friends with these pairings, take them out of their comfort zone a bit and introduce them to something new. Host a wine tasting with a nice little dolcetto from Northwestern Italy, the aperitif par excellance of Piemonte, often served with cold cuts and young cheeses, a fruity yet elegant red blend from the South of France with any olive dish from pasta with olives and capers to fish with tapenade. Or an elegant, palate-cleansing bubbly from Alsace with pork sausage.
The world of food and wine is limitless. Imagine, create, learn and travel. And ask us for new ideas. We’re always dreaming them up!
Join me for my next wine class The Building Blocks of Wine: What the Pros Drink at the beginning of May at The Chopping Block Lincoln Square. You'll learn how to choose better wines for yourself and your friends, while spending less.