January 10th, 2009 – Chablis, Cotes du Rhone and “wine that goes with food”

Sunday dinner and a great short ribs recipe that screams for a big red wine. My choice from the cellar tonight? A 2003 Cotes du Rhone Villages from Domaine Roche-Audran Pere Mayeux. And for the white wine drinking wife, a 2007 Chablis Champ Royaux from Fevre.

The red is surprisingly young still, almost purple in colour and not a lot of aromas at first.  It gradually opens up to show a mix of dried cherries and Provencal herbs (mostly Grenache, I expect) with peppery, slightly gritty tannins.  It will be better in a few years (good thing I still have one more bottle!).

The Chablis is very nice…I heard nice things about this vintage and they seem to be true based on this wine. Clean, crisp (no oak, typical of Chablis), with minerally/chalky/citrus fruit in a wine with surprisingly big body for a white wine.  Very nice indeed!

In selecting the wine for tonight, I thought about the whole “wine with food” topic. It continues to be a big one in 2010, and you regularly see wine reviews that say ” this is a great food wine”.

My view? That is a sure sign there is something wrong with the wine! Because if it doesn’t taste good by itself, food will only mask the problems.

No don’t get me wrong; there are some wines that go better with some foods, and some that don’t work at all.  Port with Stilton cheese, Sauternes with Fois Gras, Chablis with Oysters, oaked – Chardonnay with rich white sauces, Pinot Noir with Salmon and Barolo with Osso Buco…all are fabulous! Similarly, a young Cabernet with some oak will not taste that good with Brie or Camembert, and a big Aussie Shiraz or California Zinfandel will completely overwhelm most seafood dishes.

But if you use common sense, it is not really brain surgery! My approach is, find the wine — red an white — that you like. Then prepare the food you like. Nine times out of ten, it will work out fine and you will enjoy both.  If it is a serious dinner — a celebration or you are trying to impress someone — maybe think about the matching a bit more.  But for the rest of the times, just drink and eat what you like.

I think that is the best way to enjoy your wine and your food!



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