Updated 2009-08-18 11:52:06 ID=467:0

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table 2009-02-17 09:52:55:123
©2009 The Romantic Table

Larry McGourty writes about wine and food

Wine Critiques --Results May Vary

While it is fun to listen to the wine critics, remember it is only entertainment. Your results may vary.

Ever see those weight loss ads on TV touting some bozo who lost a gazillion pounds in two weeks? Always in the corner in really fine print there is a little disclaimer "not a typical result, your results may vary." Wine critiques can be like that --your results may vary.

This has been highlighted recently by some of the well known wine bloggers fessing up to the facts that first olfactory capabilities vary greatly among individuals, and second not everyone approaches wine from the same perspective.

In the case of olfactory genetics, some people are more or less sensitive to specific aromatic compounds. This is great as along as you are sensitive to the "good" things like the fruit esters and can detect and enjoy minute flavorings like a tropical mango sun ripened on the island of Bora Bora that the rest of us mere mortals cannot. On the other if you are particularly sensitive to some "bad thing," even low levels can ruin a wine for you that other tasters find perfectly acceptable. Sulfur sensitivity is a prime example of this. And then of course, there are aromas that some people love and others hate for no rational reason, it's just the way they are.

But, the biggest taste differentiator is the individual's approach to wine --is it to be served as an aperitif to be savored by itself, or is it to be paired with a food course and to be enjoyed as a complement to the food?

If you intend to strictly wine taste, a big jammy fruity wine may be a reasonable selection. In California we make the big fruity wines because we can, full ripening is rarely ever an issue. These are the wines beloved by the big name wine critics. If you can take the time to really enjoy the wine without distraction, you probably will taste complex aromas and subtlety that would be otherwise lost without a little introspection. Personally, this is not something I do on a regular basis. I like wine with food and conversation. This style of wine is not a good choice for that.

Now, if you are pairing a wine with food, the rule is simple --the wine should complement the taste of what you are eating. If the dish is subtle in flavor, a subtle wine is appropriate. It would be a disservice to the food entree if it was overpowered by the wine. This usually means a less complex wine selection with good acidity and softer tannins.

The converse is equally true, the dish should not overwhelm the wine either. If the dish is robust like an Santa Maria Barbecue style oak grilled beef tri-tip, a bold wine with substantial tannins will not be lost taste wise, and will work quite well.

A big jammy fruit bomb will either distract in the first case or the subtle aromas and complexity be completely overwhelmed by the food's flavors in the latter case.

This does not mean that critiques are not useful, but know where the critic is coming from. Personally, I like to get wine pairing recommendations from chefs I admire. Their approach is similar to mine when it comes to wine --food first!

The bottom line? Only you know what you like and how you like to imbibe. Have fun, experiment to discover your own personal likes and dislikes. While it is also fun to listen to the wine critics, remember it is only entertainment. Your results may vary.

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A tip from Sue!

Cut down on the splatters as you fry or saute

When you're frying meat or fish you can cut down on the splatters by either using a splatter guard or even easier, by simply using a cover for the frying pan. But adjust your heat down to compensate for the increased heat buildup.