WALLA WALLA – Jeffrey Saad thinks you can learn almost everything you need to know about food and wine pairings by thinking about ketchup and French fries. Saad, the runner-up in last year’s Next Food Network Star, believes that food and wine pairings can be reduced to some simple principles.
According to Saad, the acidy tomatoes in ketchup cut the fat in the fries and its sweetness cuts the saltiness. He says simple examples like this help keep the basic rules in mind.
Acid with Acid: Match an acidic wine with food with acidity, such as a citrus sauce, and the acid balances each other out and allows the flavors of the food to come through.
Fat with Acid: Pairing a dish with fat content with an acidic wine allows the acid to cleanse the fat off the palate as when you use lemon juice with a fatty fish.
Protein with Tannin: Pairing a dish with protein (animal fat) with a wine high in tannin covers the classic meat with red wine. But not all red is high in tannins, so be selective.
Sweet with Sweet: A good rule here is that the wine needs to be at least as sweet as the dessert you eat, otherwise the food “spanks” out the sweetness and you’re left with an unrewarding wine.
Spiciness with Sweetness: Another classic match is a spicy Oriental dish with a sweeter wine such as Riesling or Gewürztraminer.
Cheese suggestions: For most cheeses, you are better off with a Riesling or a wine that is sweet or off dry. If you are a red wine drinker, these can be paired with an aged cheese. For goat cheese go with a sweet white.
Go with geography: Another great tip is to go with food and wine from the same geographic area. These items grew up together and so often result in great pairings. If you are having an Italian meal, it makes sense to pair it with a nice Italian wine.
Three all-time safe wines: Jeffrey also selected his three all-time safe food pairing wines:
1. Dry Rose. Must be dry.
2. Champagne (you always look good drinking it). Low in alcohol, which makes it a good match.
3. Barbera – Low in tannins from Northern Italy.
From Jeffrey’s captivating presetation we went to an early food and wine pairing lunch prepared by Chef Bear of the Marcus Whitman Hotel.
There were 10 total dishes. Some of the highlights were:
Kris Pinot Grigio 2009, Italy, with Spot Prawn Salsa with White Peach and Peppercorn Caramel.
Cusino Macul Sauvignon Gris 2009, Maipo Valley Chile with Chicken Skewer with White Balsamic Vanilla “BBQ” on Chayote Slaw with Micro Cilantro.
Tilla Torrontes 2009’ Mendoza Argentina with Monteillet Chevre, Pistachio, Chestnut Honey.
Leyda Pinot Noir 2009, Leyda Valley Chile, with Grilled Quail on Trumpet Royal with White Soy and Whole Butter'.
Rioja Vega Reserva 2004, La Rioja, Spain, with Pork Belly and Pea Vines with Saffron Scented Stock.
Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Cochagua Valley, Chile, Kobe Strip with Black Trumpet Puree and Glace de Viande.
Wow! What a way to end the conference. We listened to the final wrap up where it was announced that next year’s Wine Bloggers Conference will be held in Virginia and then rustled to the WBC-or-Bust bus for our return trip to Seattle.