In this edition of Food Advice Friday, reader, Cary, asks:
"Cost and availability of ingredients aside, when planning a special meal, is it best to tailor the menu around a particular wine choice, or to choose the wine based on the menu?"
When is cost and availabililty of ingredients ever an "aside"? Parameters are always part of the equation. No, life's not fair. But I like parameters, they force me to be imaginative and resourceful. But having said all that, I find that it's more exciting to create a fanciful menu and then find the wine that will go with it than the other way around. I find that - for me anyway - doing the other way around is a bit limiting. Hmm what should I serve with this bold, earthy red? Beef. I get so uninspired by this scenario. But when I'm given an open-ended option to create a menu, that's what I prefer.
Anwho, to answer your quorschun, generally speaking, I plan special meals around the food (not the wine). G is the wine maven in our home, and he selects wine(s) based on the menu. It's secondary. Rarely is it the case that we plan ingredients around the wine. That's too complicated for us lazy amateurs. Even when we have our oenophile friends over bringing with them amazing bottles, we plan the dinner first and then let the chips fall where they may in terms of the drink. There is, I will say, occasionally some tweaking in terms of the cheese/dessert course and the wine. If we know someone is bringing, say a Muscat, we'll serve a blue...something like that. But that's as far as I go with it. We shoot for the most brilliant pairing, but again, the food comes first.
And again having said all that, we're looking for an occasion to drink our most prized bottles. We haven't found it yet. I imagine that we'll drink the Chateau Mouton Rothschild with a Papa John's pizza - because it's that good and it doesn't matter what we eat with it. And we like contrasts.