What bottle of wine backs up your meal?

How many people have asked the question: What wine do I serve with dinner? The photo above always comes to my mind when I hear this question. In fact, I should mount this photo onto a flash card and hand it out to anyone who asks. That's because it so perfectly demonstrates the answer to the question (and also because this photo literally depicts a wine bottle hidden behind the food -- you can only see the bottle neck peeking out).

So what bottle of wine backs up this meal? What wine is behind the dish? In order to answer, you've first got to determine what it is you're eating.

Well, that's easy. It's grilled salmon.

Fish = white wine. Problem solved. Push aside the red wine. Let's eat.

But wait! It's not actually fish -- that's really a chicken breast.

So slide the red wine over back over. Roasted chicken = red wine. Dig in!

And suddenly, the gustatory experience of your dinner has been reduced to easy visuals rather than tastebuds and mouthfeel. Any black-and-white answer to the pairing wine with dinner question becomes, at best, a dubious conclusion. My flash card has no clear answer written on the back. Because grilled salmon goes with red wine and white wine; roasted chicken goes with red wine and white wine.


Around Halloweentime, Dr. Debs at Good Wine Under $20 spoke out, unearthing a spooky post. Very spooky!

In it, the wine bottles we typically see at our shops are talked about as if they're in perpetual disguise -- like their labels are masks and wine shoppers who come across them couldn't guess what's behind that mask until they open it, pour it out during dinner, and shockingly find [cue thunder and lightning bolts] that it doesn't complement your food!

Therefore, one proposed solution to this horror scene is a line of wines that have no labels at all, just the image of the food you should serve them with, as illustrated by the bottles above. How clever this is!

If only it worked. Dr. Debs explains the problem well. Kudos to the doctor -- check out the full post.

The way I see it, the problem is that the food you make is dressed up every night of the year, not just on Halloween, or on Thanksgiving. Surely no one prepares the same food the same way every night of year.

Take a look again at the flash-card photo of the dinner I recently made. At first, I couldn't even tell if it was chicken or fish I made that night -- mostly because my grilling preparation method with fresh herbs and bold flavours suits both chicken breast and salmon.

One ends up tasting like salmon and one ends up tasting like chicken. The accompanying flavours and textures always support a good food-friendly red wine. Personally, I think nine times out of 10, I'd reach for red wine after grilling no-matter-what, fish included. That's because the preparation supports flavours and textures that nine red out of ten would handle better than a typical white.

So yes, red wine with fish!

Now that's spooky for a lot of people. But to me, it's the truth. Spooky, but true.

But I'm not going to say that on average reds better suit grilled salmon without serving up readers a good example. Nine reds out of 10 may not totally convince you that red wine and fish match.

Stay tuned for the versatile, food-friendly wine I serve with almost anything -- that'll be the next post. I'll give you a hint: It's not Saumur-Champigny or anything remotely close to the Loire.


Joe said...

I'm guessing Beajolais...

Marcus said...

A good guess but I'm not down with Beaujolais that much, especially the ones under $20 at the SAQ.

What I have in mind is from a different region, not at all made from Gamay and cheaper.