Tim Hanni, MW on Food and Wine pairing: It's Bu@^#%t!

https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2019/02/tim-hanni-mw-food-and-wine-pairing-is-bullsht/?fbclid=IwAR0HELLMhV1mz3c15WQDnc7CO3UzlL5uBn-4uKxWDvU87I0UBKggGDWF6T8

Was this comment meant to appease a specific group of people at a Sauv Blanc Convention or is he trying to start a revolution? 

I guess I understand some of what he's saying about generalizations not necessarily matching people and specific dishes, but then he goes off topics and starts talking about arrogant categorization, so I'm having trouble following his entire argument. Having spent hours finding the best pairing for a dish at times, I think I can comfortably say I disagree with this type of sentiment. 

Thoughts?

  • It also seems he wants more same-ness. The Riesling argument at the end of the article blows my little brain to shreds. I enjoy the diversity that grapes and regions can offer.

  • I'm also having difficulty with that argument.  Yes, to an extent there are no "food and wine pairings" exclusive to France, or Italy, or Spain for that matter, but if you look at the wine they produce in a specific area, and then look at the food that is produced in the same area, there is something to be said about those "Pairings"  If you are in Alsace and ordering any local specialties at a restaurant, say any pork dishes like Choucroute Alascienne, or one of their lovely savory tarts, the wines that are made there represent a traditional pairing.  If I'm in Alsace and ordering these dishes, I'm not looking for Cote Rotie or Super Tuscan bottle.  So to flat out say there is literally no wine pairing happening there I feel is absurd.  The food and wine by their very nature are a Pairing.  Same goes with Italy and Spain, and any regions with a long, long growing history.  I'm not visiting Sicily and while eating locally caught and prepared seafood ordering a wine from Alsace.  

    Some foods and wines just pair together much, much better than others.  If a guest wants a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with a steak, I'm not going to say no.  But do I think that there is something better to enhance the experience for the guest, absolutely. 

  • "Cheval Blanc used to be sweet so pair Cab Sauv with Oysters"- paraphrased 

    Also kicking us somms while we're down with that random unrelated Riesling jab. Is he just trolling us?

  • The article is not put together very well :/ It seems more like a few angry statements vomited onto a page to ruffle feathers rather than a piece defending/ presenting any cohesive opinion or statement- regardless of the validity of said opinions.  Being an MW and coming from an educational path of writing endless amounts of essays I would think that there would simply be more content to back up this very bold statement... but then there's just more eyebrow-raising statements bringing up entirely different conversations... I would like to hear more supporting statements on why he has reached this conclusion.  Although I can assure you that no amount of opinion on this matter will ever take away my love for my favorite wine and food pairings... so there's that.

  • I agree that the consumer shouldn’t have to feel any extra stress or pressure when making the difficult decision on what wine to buy and what food to buy. But, I also feel that wine pairing is one of my favorite parts about wine. Taking the time to try something classic or taking the time and doing research and finding your own, that can make your experience not two times better but 10x 100x better. I also think that’s what keeps many people interested in wine, even the casual drinkers, cause everyone has a wine pairing story of their favorite wine whether it is paired with their favorite dish, vacation spot or group of friends. 

  • I watched his video on this awhile ago. It's more in depth, about peoples' different physiological reactions to different taste sensations.  Like, some people get pleasure from heightened spiciness so telling someone they can't have a tannic wine with a curry is taking away from their pleasure.  If you drank pickle juice as a child you likely prefer high acid wines because you are ultra sensitive to bitterness. So it really is about matching the wine to the person and not necessarily the food.

  • There is no Hanni revolution coming...  People can drink what they like with whatever food they wish.  I was going to personally ban him from enjoying food and wine together but forgot that he is an MW who has been SOBER for over 2 decades. What do you do when you are an MW who doesn't drink???  You write a piece called: Food & Wine Pairings are Bullshit.  Honestly, I feel bad for the guy.  Can you imagine becoming a world famous wine professional and then choosing to give up what has made you an expert. He has clearly forgotten what makes for a great experience on the palate.

  • This conversation has been fermenting in my mind the past few days, but I've finally had a chance to sit down and put down some coherent thoughts.  This Forbes article does a great job of expanding on some of the concepts that Hanni is talking about.

    1. Re: The Drinks Buisness article: A short article with a lot of quotes from a talk without any real context behind them, but he's an MW.  There's a lot of thought and knowledge that goes behind what he's saying, but it seems deliberately edited to make it controversial.  Add to that, the guy is in recovery and though he doesn't drink, it doesn't mean he doesn't taste - he does taste (and spits everything).  And give him credit, he's also a former executive chef who's done extensive research into food and wine pairing ... he even created a product called Vignon (discontinued) that would help balance food to make it pair with any wine - and when you look at the ingredients there (salt, lemon juice, soy sauce, mushroom powder, parmesan cheese) you can see why that would work.
    2. Did anyone read the history of wine guide?  The argument that there's no history of food and wine matching kind of makes sense ... until recently, wine (like many fermented beverages in Europe) has been used primarily by peasants as a supplement for calories ... considering that many wines would have been tart, green, often riddled with flaws from infection, oxidation, and probably it also had some RS because the fermentation didn't finish.  You'd often then adulterate to make it palatable - this was going on for millennia.  How is that a classic pairing?  Even in recent history, the wines that were being drunk were quite different.  As he said in the Forbes article, they found Champagne from 170 years ago had 140 g/L RS ... think about that.  Coke has about 108 g/L sugar ... that's 30% sweeter than coke.  Think that's not going to affect food and wine pairings?  Personally, I don't know how much I'd like Champagne and oysters at that point.  When he brings up the Cheval from 47, it's because that even 70 years ago, wine was a massively different thing than what it is now.  Just because the only Cote Rotie that somms of our generation have tasted have been dry doesn't mean that it was dry 70 years ago (and if you have some 70 year old Cote Rotie that you want to share with me for research purposes, I'm all for it).
    3. There are genetic predispositions to liking/disliking certain flavors.  Not every "perfect pairing" will work with all people.  You might not like someone drinking Sauvignon Blanc with steak, but some people do.  And I bet if you amped up the oak and the skin contact, gave the steak a lemony beurre blanc, you'd find that the pairing wasn't that bad.  Hanni likes to talk about matching wine to the diner rather than the dinner.
    4. As a guy who sells a lot of Riesling, I agree with him when he says that there's too many different styles, but I'd add that quite often there isn't enough information on the bottle for the average consumer to know what's going on.  Is it dry?  Is it sweet?  Will it have botrytis or be clean?  Am I going to have a lot of dry extract?  MLF?  Even, horror, oak?  German labeling doesn't help with many of these issues and as a group Riesling producers can't even put together a sensible standard of indicating dryness.  Many European producers will put TA on their spec sheets, but that doesn't really tell you how tart the wine is going to be, etc.  It's a minefield for someone who has no knowledge.
    5. Also, as a guy who works in a restaurant with primarily Chinese cuisine, I'm interested to see him talk more about food and wine pairing in China.  Personally, I find it to be a huge challenge since there are a lot of strong flavors (especially fermented ones) that can play havoc with your pairings, especially umami.  There's a lot of hidden umami in Asian cuisine ... there's a reason we call fish sauce "Chinese ranch".  Throw in the heady aromatics being used (ginger, garlic, etc) and the ever present smokey taste of wok hei, and you've got a minefield to navigate.  When you find them, they're kind of amazing, but I've found that you're pairing to the sauce, rather than the dish, much more often than in western cuisine.
  • The article is a small selection of quotations that are taken out of context but I can personally attest to the fact that there are TERRIBLE food and wine pairings, such as Amarone and king crab, that will scar you for life.

  • https://player.fm/series/grape-encounters-wine-radio/episode-501-tim-hanni-master-of-wine

    While I can't find any more context in regards to what was actually said in the full presentation, it does sound like it was a much longer presentation and the article in question literally took one line from it out of context and wrote a full article.  I'm not sure our problem here really lies with Tim Hanni or with bad reporting/ misquoting?  His words for it in the podcast above were that the reporter took one line out of context from a 90 minute presentation and ran with it.  

    If you listen to or read much of his work on the subject, yes he does say most of it is BS, but for very different reasons than are discussed in the article.  Not saying he's right or wrong but the article is a serious misrepresentation and I think it's important to understand that.