Most people who drink wine regularly have learned “rules” of pairing wine with food. There are very precise rules—Chablis with oysters is one—and general pronouncements, such as white wine with fish.
You can go to the website FoodAndWinePairing.org and get guidance such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec with lamb.
But conventional wisdom, which also includes drinking the wines from the same region as the foods, is not the same as the latest wisdom.
The new wisdom of wine says don’t be regimented, don’t box yourself in. Try different pairings to see what works best for you.
The new wisdom (which has been around for a while) was proved at a lunch last week hosted by Louis Jadot, the venerable Burgundian winemaker and négociant*.
In a private room at Lafayette Grand Café in the Nolita neighborhood of downtown Manhattan, ten wine writers joined Frederic Barnier, Jadot’s winemaker, for an eye-opening (and delicious) lunch.
We tried eight different dishes with four Jadot wines, two whites and two reds:
Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay
Louis Jadot Macon-Villages
Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages
Louis Jadot Pinot Noir
If you think you prefer Cabernet Sauvignon with filet mignon, think again. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Also tasted prior to the lunch were the new Louis Jadot Steel Chardonnay, made for the American market where many people prefer the flavors of steel fermentation to oak barrel fermentation; and the 2012 Pouilly-Fuisse.
Who new we’d enjoy Beaujolais with just about everything? Photo courtesy Maison Louis Jadot.
MIX & MATCH
We were encouraged to mix and match the wines with the foods. Served family style on large platters, we dined on:
Roasted beet root salad with mach and hazelnuts
Escarole and endive salad with pomegranate and truffle vinaigrette
Charcuterie de la maison: saucisson, pâte and jambon
Rotisserie chicken salad with organic grains and tarragon-poppy dressing
Brisket burger with caramelized onions and raclette
Roasted fall vegetables and potatoes
Brussels sprouts with bacon and horseradish
As you might imagine, there’s a lot of conventional wisdom on which wines to pair with these foods. But we tried every possible pairing, and the results were surprising—or maybe not so surprising:
Everyone liked something different, and many of the preferences were not the conventional ones.
Even more surprising to us—a lover of red and white Burgundy but not necessarily of Beaujolais†—is how much we liked that Beaujolais with just about everything. It was our favorite wine of the tasting, and the nice Jadot people sent us home with a bottle.
PICK A DATE FOR A DINNER PARTY
Follow today’s tip by planning a dinner with four different wines.
You can assign dishes to participants, so you’ll have an assortment of vegetables, grains, poultry, meat and fish/seafood. Prepare the dishes with strong flavors—like the hazelnuts, horseradish, truffle oil, spices and herbs served by Lafayette—because any wine will seemingly go with bland food.
Of course, the exercise is a relative one. The flavors of wines made from the same grape from the same region in the same year can vary widely. So it’s best to select four wines from the same producer, like Jadot, which will provide consistency in house style and approach to winemaking.
*A négociant is the French term for a wine merchant who buys wines from smaller winemakers and sells them under his own name. Négociants buy everything from grapes to grape must to wines in various states of completion, and often blend the wines from different small winemakers.
†Beaujolais is the one appellation in Burgundy that produces red wine made from the Gamay grape instead of Pinot Noir.