Thanks to The Chopping Block's guests and team members for welcoming me as one of your new Sommeliers!
Folks ask me all the time, “What does a Sommelier do: sit around and taste delicious wine all day?”
I’m happy to report, on many days, yes! We also taste a lot of awful wine, so you don’t have to.
Even more than sourcing wine, though, traditional Sommeliers are second only to a restaurant’s chef in creating exciting wine and food experiences.
Over the years of eating and drinking for a living, I’ve tested the “rules” of wine and food pairing regularly and with vigor, to come up with rules of my own - ten simple guidelines that guarantee delicious pairings of wine with the widest range of dishes including meat, poultry, veggies, cheese, dessert, buffet’s, traditional and non-traditional wine cuisine – from French and Italian to Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican and more!
We’ll test these rules together in How to Pair Food & Wine: Summer Menu held at our Lincoln Square location on June 29.
Summer grilling is a great opportunity to test the most exciting wine and food guideline: “Look for opposites that attract.”
For instance, with finger-licking good foods including juicy grills, fried dishes, rich sauces and creamy dips, pair sparkling wine.
Many people judge their barbeque by how far food juices drip down their chin. Scrumptious, yes, but soon the taste buds are clogged with grease.
To avoid palate fatigue when serving fatty foods, serve sparkling wine, with scrubbing bubbles that literally lift food flavors off the palate.
Italy’s fabulous fizz – Prosecco – is a great way to begin your warm weather meals, to brighten unctuous flavors including mayonnaise-based dip, fried wings or The Chopping Block's popular appetizer Corn Bacon Fritters. Ask a retail concierge for Adami “Bosco di Gica” Prosecco. We have chilled bottles at the ready!
Acid is another palate cleanser. To help cleanse the palate from fishy flavors, for instance, chefs garnish seafood plates with a lemon wedge.
The vibrant acidity in wine likewise refreshes the palate from fatty dishes.
It’s no surprise that France’s Burgundy region, renowned for their tart white wine, is home to Brillat-Savarin Triple-Crème cheese, with the highest concentration of milk fat in the known universe.
We offer Cave de Buxy Bourgogne Blanc (produced of 100% Chardonnay by French wine law), with vibrant acidity, for traditional pairing with Burgundy’s creamy cheeses, as well as Escargots a la Bourguignon (snails swimming in garlic butter).
Sugar and Spice
Some folks judge the success of spicy cuisine on a spike in perspiration. In fact, capsaicin – the active component in chili peppers – convinces the brain that we’re hot, which switches on our internal air conditioning – i.e., sweat.
But capsaicin is an irritant, which scrapes the palate. Serving spicy food with bone-dry wine is like pouring rubbing alcohol on a scraped knee.
Wine with delicate sweetness, however, coats the palate with a protective layer of fruit and sugar, avoiding the burn of spice.
With fiery dishes such as spicy Thai cuisine, three-alarm barbeque sauce and our Blackened Fish with Spicy Pecan Beurre Blanc, serve the delicate sweetness of France’s Domaine Pichot Vouvray or Dr. Konstatin Frank “Dry” Riesling, from New York’s Finger Lakes region, long-considered one of the finest Rieslings made in the U.S.
Join our Wine Class
We’ll test “opposites attract” along with other wine and food guidelines during How to Pair Food and Wine: Summer Menu. on June 29 on our Lincoln Square outdoor grilling patio. For more information and to register, click here.
I hope you can join us for this or another one of our wine classes. Good wine & good health until then!