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Unusual Food and Wine Pairings

A recent column in the Toronto Sun than mentioned the strange pairing of Ontario icewine with a pulled pork sandwich. Flat Rock Cellars, the Ontario winery that hosted the tasting event, said the unusual pairing worked because the pork had been glazed with an icewine sauce. The glaze, they said, served as a bridge for the palette to jump from wine to food.

This kind of pairing might make you cringe, but some experimenting is a good thing. If anything, a new combination of food and wine will force you to think about what you’re eating and drinking. As you concentrate on the flavors, there’s a better chance you’ll gain something new from both the food and the wine. Of course there’s always the danger of a pairing gone horribly wrong, and you might find yourself thinking, “Maybe this California Zinfandel doesn't go with this filet of sole.”

Nevertheless, it’s worth looking back at some of the food and wine pairing trends to see how drastically the norm can shift over the years. In his book Making Sense of Wine, Matt Kramer opens his chapter on food with this gem: “Wine exists for food. Without the context of food, wine is a eunuch, a sterile experience which soon acquires distorted features.” Kramer goes on to describe how people’s tastes in wine and food pairings have reversed. Menus from the late 1800s show that Sauternes , the rich, sweet Bordeaux dessert wine, was served with raw oysters. Champagne was typically served with the beef course, and during a meal, red wines were often sipped before the whites – a big no-no in most restaurants today.

Kramer comes up with some interesting recommendations for food and wine pairings, the first rule being that rich foods pair well with rich wines. For example, he recommends matching an avocado and egg dish with a rich, buttery Chardonnay.

Other interesting pairings that Kramer advocates:

-Pinot Gris with salty and oily smoked salmon
-Gewurztraminer with fois gras and any dish dominated by onions
-Chenin Blanc from the Loire paired with butternut squash soup
-Well-aged Semillions with chicken breast with gorgonzola and chives

Try some new food and wine pairings, think about how the flavors interact, and don’t be too much of a stickler for modern conventions.

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“Unusual Food and Wine Pairings”