Wine Pairings- Exploring new things

I was just checking out this article in a trade magazine about trying new wine and food pairings and it really brought me back to my younger college days. I know what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, this is not a crazy drunken college story (nor would I share them if I had them).

During my college days, I was lucky enough to participate in a class within our Hospitality department called Wine and Culture. Throughout the semester, we learned about the wine-making process, the wine history of different countries, and, of course, got to taste different wines from around the world. Obviously, any student who wanted to be in the class had to be 21, and when it was time to register, that class went fast because there was no restriction against non-hospitality-majored students. I remember how I got in: I needed another class and just checked it out, and it turned out there was one seat left. My fingers have never worked harder than when they scored me that one seat.

In this class, we learned about how to properly taste wine and pair it with different foods. Of course we followed the classic rules (white wine with fish and chicken, red wine with steak and beef), but my instructor would challenge use with weekly “homework” assignments, voluntary pairings that he would give us at the end of the week to try over the weekend. The first one he gave us: enjoy a glass of White Zinfandel with a Big Mac. Yes, you did read that right.

Now, before you wine enthusiasts cry heresy, let me say that the combination was actually rather good. White Zinfandel is a sweet wine, and the Big Mac’s sweet sauce gives the burger its signature taste. The two went together quite well. The whole point of this was to let us match pairings best on aspects of the wine and the food it’s going with. In fact, I’m pretty certain I still have notes from other interesting pairs that were suggested. Perhaps I’ll share more as I find them.

So if you’re a wine enthusiast out there who hasn’t cried heresy yet, you should try sitting down and take the wines you enjoy try to dissect the flavors. Then, just for fun, try it with a food that has similar characteristics. If it doesn’t work, then you just eliminated a pairing possibility. But if it does work, it would be sweet (or dry, if that’s what you prefer in your wine).

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