Food and Wine: two words that seemingly go together like ham and eggs. Yet the reality of wine today is that more and more of it does not go well with food. As chefs continue to push the envelope of complexity, the wine industry seems to be veering in two divergent directions. One branch is going down the road of clean, industrial stability with flavor profiles determined by market research and the other going down the points-driven feeding frenzy of more-is-better powerhouse wines.
I recently purchased a bottle of 2003 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel, and it convinced me that when push comes to shove, I’d rather go with blander wines with my meal than wine that could double as fuel for the NASCAR circuit. A clean, if somewhat boring, Zinfandel at 13% alcohol, actually compliments a meal better than the Peachy Canyon that weighed in at a combustible 15.5%. Strange as it seems, commercial can be better than artisan when it comes to wine.
This it the greatest danger of today’s points driven wine criticism. Ultimately it will always reward wines that are at their finest on the first sip or two. However, these very same wines dull the palate after a half-a-glass and do nothing to enhance the food on the table. Not only do they not enhance it, they conflict with food – they very thing a wine is created for in the first place.
Balance, refinement, elegance are all attributes that are as important in the kitchen as they are in the cellar.