While living in Italy I always thought that the best value wines I found were the most versatile with food. An excellent dolcetto or montepulciano tasted pretty good with pasta, pizza or or bistecca. It was only the most expensive, distinctive wines that wanted or deserved more precise food pairings. After all there is eating and there is fine dining. There are peak culinary experiences and then there is just plain good eating. I’ve found in those good eating circumstances that the wine you choose can be very adaptable as long as it’s a good wine. Good food and good wine, there’s not much more you could want on most nights. Save the perfect matches for Per Se and special occasions, but other than that just enjoy. This is particularly true at the more reasonably priced end of the wine spectrum where the best wines are up-front, fruity and just plain delicious.
However, a new company seems to disagree with my simple pleasures and insist that they have developed a line of $12.99 wines that are so diverse that they have selected and produced individual red wines to go with specifically “pasta with tomato sauce”, “roasted chicken”, “pizza” and “grilled steak”. Frankly, I find it hard to conceive of a $12.99 red wine that I really like that I wouldn’t happily consume with any of these dishes.
Let’s think about what these wines are all about. They don’t own vineyards or a winery so they are out there buying in bulk and coming up with blends. Not that there is anything wrong with that if you make a good everyday wine, but there seems to be a scam going on when they take these bulk wines and try to con the consumer into laying in a supply of the “different” blends so they don’t make the disastrous mistake of having to serve the “pizza” blend with chicken one night because they’d run out of the proper “roasted chicken” blend. Which apparently somehow would ruin your dinner by being an imperfect match.
This is just what the already self-conscious American consumer needs, the feeling that wines selling for 12 bucks need to be precisely matched to just the right food to be enjoyed. On top of this the lone white in the line-up is for “Grilled Salmon”. How confident are we to be in their recommendations if they can’t even get the color of the wine to be served right?
Wine loves food, but to be so picky about it at this price range is silly at best.