Monthly Archives: October 2012

Red with Meat, White with Fish?

Barbara wrote in saying she knows the old rules about red wine with meat and white with fish have been thrown out. But then, what should she go by? This two-minute video explores some options: 

I promised to flesh out the info in the video here on my blog. Here are a few points I didn’t have time to get to:

Flavor matching: This can be fun! If you’re serving a mushroom terrine, try serving it wine a wine that also has earthy flavors like Pinot Noir or Merlot. Or match the citrusy, herbaceous flavors of ceviche “cooked” in lime juice and served with tomato & cilantro salsa with the citrusy, grassy flavors of a Sauvignon Blanc.

I know I already said this in the video, but I want to drive home the fact that the preparation is often more important than the particular sort of protein in the dish. The cooking method, such as grilling vs. poaching, marinades and sauces can be better points of reference when you choose the wine than the meat, fish or chicken.  

Regarding red wine with meat: As mentioned before, matching big flavors makes sense and I’ll add that the marbling in red meats has a softening effect on the tannins in the wine. It’s just another reason that most of us love red wine with our steak. Continue reading


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Recipe: Duck Breast with Porcini Mushrooms and Pink Pepper Sauce

How about a quick, easy and delicious recipe to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon? This one’s courtesy of Chef Michel Cornu of Raymond Vineyards here in the Napa Valley. Bon appetit! 

Long Island Duck Breast with Porcini Mushrooms and Pink Pepper Sauce

Cornu: “The wine’s softness, roundness and balance make it a good match for Raymond’s Generations Cab. It’s good with the sweetness and gaminess of the duck,” Another cab might be too big. It needs to be a soft cab with good acidity.”

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Getting Advice from Wine Critics


Question from Sarah: I really like wine but it’s hard for me to pick it out. Sometimes I buy it because I like the label. Should I subscribe to Wine Spectator or something like that to help me choose good bottles? 

Reply: Hi, Sarah. Thanks for writing! I think everyone will admit to selecting a bottle by the label. I certainly have. 

Using a critic’s advice can be helpful if you and the critic have similar tastes. For instance Robert Parker is famous (or notorious, depending upon who you’re talking to) for giving high marks to reds that are heavy, extractive and high in alcohol. Not everyone appreciates that style. 

I think the best thing to do, if you want to subscribe to a wine publication, is “audition” a few of them to see if you have similar tastes. An experienced, knowledgeable critic, has what it takes to recognize whether or not the wine is well made and representative of its type, but it’s really hard for anyone to overcome personal preference. 

Beyond the score you want to look at how he/she describes the wine to help you decide if you might like it. In any case, I don’t recommend buying multiple bottles of wine based upon a critic’s opinion. Try a bottle and see what you think. If you love it you can go back for more. 

One of the best ways to find wine you really like is to develop a relationship with a good retailer who knows his wine and his inventory. Tell him about wines you’ve enjoyed before and he’ll make educated suggestions. Be sure and talk with him about his recommendations once you try them. He’ll ask how you liked the Syrah he suggested last time and you can say “loved it!” or “Too spicy for me.” Or whatever. If you keep this up his suggestions will get better and better. This creates a great foundation for the day you want to branch out and try something new. Knowing your tastes, he can sell you your first bottle of, for instance, Cotes du Rhone and chances are you’ll be happy with your purchase.  Continue reading

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