In our new installment of Back-and-Forth, Brian McClintic and Geoff Kruth take on 10 simple dishes and pick the first pairing that comes to mind. Feel free to argue the point, disregard, write off, cheer, question...or just add your own honest opinion in the comments below! We welcome the discussion.
First, a few words of advice.
How about this? Every food and beverage pairing recommendation from now on comes with an asterisk: Sancerre and chèvre*. Sauternes and foie gras*. Equally effective with people: Ike and Tina*. Some marriages work, some are beyond counseling—some poor would-bes get left at the altar. Terrine, for instance, with a red berry compote doesn’t quite make it with Sauternes. Moreover, if that Sauternes is 1811 d’Yquem, I’m probably going to want to pair it with my mouth and...not anything else. Context is king. And it extends beyond the table. Delicacies like caviar and foie carry with them certain social assumptions. As does green chile pozole. Take a look at your surroundings. Where are you? Who are you with? Currently, I’m on a train to SLO watching a dude eating Boulder potato chips and slamming whisky out of a mini-bar bottle. And it just seems very okay. If it were a bus, I’d recommend Fig Newtons and a handle of Beam.You want to talk three Michelin stars? Let’s talk three Michelin stars. Two memorable domestic experiences I've had involved Eleven Madison and The Laundry. I was at the bar at EMP in the Wilson era. He knows it’s my first time. He is also very much a sommelier, and the hat was on as things started coming out. “I chose this because of this... I chose that because of that...” It was geek status for eight courses. And why not? I’m by myself at EMP, and Dusty’s on fire. At TFL, I’m with five dudes, and it’s part pleasure but mostly business. I told Eric, “I want these five bottles. Can you just make them work where appropriate and fill in the gaps because I’m about to talk about some stuff for four hours straight?” And while we are engaged in our little man world, Eric and Mikayla went full ninja and made it rain. Same social context, different situation—different experience. Both, amazing.And in the end, what else is there but the experience? That is why we’re in this industry, isn’t it? To color those moments for people. If that’s the goal, then there are no rules in love and war, and every decision has one of these behind it: *. And who knows? You may end up with a baby named North West. That being said, Geoff and I are going to do our little song and dance. And someone will say, “Ooooo, I love that pairing!” or, “Ooooo, I don’t.” About that, I have this to say (as inevitably, all roads lead back to Tina): “What’s love...got to do...got to do with it?”
If you haven't seen Into the Bottle yet, there's a scene on food and wine pairing. It opens with me saying, "A lot of food and wine pairing is BS; a lot of food and wine pairing is overthought.” Then—with some throw-you-under-the-bus editing—Brian says, “You want to say food and wine pairing is BS? Okay... But that's like saying peanut butter and jelly is BS.”The question I was actually answering was whether or not I think a lot of food and wine pairing is overthought. I still maintain that it is. Too many ingredients or too much complexity? Just give me some Vermentino. That's not to say food and wine pairing isn't important; we are sommeliers after all. When you hit it just right, both the food and wine taste better. But when you overthink it, you tend to make things worse.So what's my advice? Simple: eat a lot, drink a lot, and pay attention. Also, if you’re going to take risks, do it on your own dime.
Here's our Back-and-Forth on 10 simple dishes. Unlike the movie set, this website is my home turf, so I get the last word on each paring.
BRAVO! This is genius, funny and very informative. Please do consider a debate show!
More content like this on GuildSomm, please! This was awesome. Educational and entertaining battle rap. For what more could one ask?
I clearly can't add. 94-94.
After a full 10 rds this one went to the scorecard:
Rd 1: Brian 10-8 (Geoff gets a deduction for swapping a wine for the mint jelly. Mint jelly was brought to the plate to mask the flavor of lamb and tame the gaminess. Dark fruit from Syrah is so good with lamb and with the meat and pepper and herbs... game on).
Rd 2: Geoff 10-9 (Gotta go Alsatian. Give me Grand Cru anything. If I'm at a ballgame a beer knocks it out of the park but I'd still be wishing I had Grand Cru Weinbach.)
Rd 3: Brian 10-9 (Better time: line up the shots. Better pairing: horchata.)
Rd 4: Geoff 10-8 (Brian gets a deduction for going back to back with non-alcoholic bevs. And Geoff crushed it with N Rhone. Salty fries and peppery Syrah is the PB & J of pairings. Not to mention the freaking burger...)
Rd 5: Brian 10-9 (Brian lands a filthy 1-2 combo with the Hamm and Bublé reference and going Chenin with pork.)
Rd 6: Geoff 10-9 (Uni and Muscadet is like Mike Tyson vs Maywether. Both are champs but the Muscadet would be outgunned. Geoff wins the round with the nod to Muscadet but ultimately picking a Blanc de Blanc with age. Gotta go pound for pound with the Uni with a heavyweight Champagne.... Unless you don't live in Montecito and can only afford Muscadet.)
Rd 7: Geoff 10-9 (Both great calls. Nothing like the big grape and oak tannins from a Napa or Bordeaux Cab with a prime strip. Dry aged I'm going to the Left Bank. Brian, don't forget about your days at Morton's, you cut your teeth on this pairing.)
Rd 8: Brian 10-9 (Rosé gets the slight edge as it's just a bit more quaffable. If I'm down and dirty in a bucket of clams I want something a little more refreshing than sherry.)
Rd 9: Brian 10-9 (Tough round to judge. The sweetness of the BBQ with the Zin would be epically hedonistic, but the Beujolais takes it with keeping this pairing light on its feet and adding some gaminess. Each sip hits the reset button to let you go in for more.)
Rd 10: Geoff 10-9 (Although sneaking in a whole flight of wines might be below the belt, Geoff almost knocks Brian to the canvas with the Sauternes and Roquefort. Brian, surprised I didn't see Goldkapsule Riesling pop up in this round...)
After 10 Rd's I have it at 86-86. To be continued? Or 86'd?
Great article guys.
well played, Especially Kruth's Godfather reference... touché. Do have to give honorable mention to pulling Bootsy Collins out of the hat; might be a better reference than Mike McDermott's "Clyde Frazier and Pearl Monroe" bit. Thanks for some fresh perspective to pairing.
Battle royale!!! I love it, man!
Who are some of these trendy Sancerre producers?
Had dry breze in saumur with a similar preparation of tartare. Was great. Think of something local with a similar profile--lots of fun Chenin being made in Cali now...
I'd recommend these guys get a debate show, but is there enough sarcasm and subtle jabs in the world to sustain it?
Incredibly entertaining read, guys.
Thank you! Too often pairings are overthought and cliche. Eat what you like, drink what you like.
Awesome, love battle! Cheers!
Also, I've been second-guessing my pairing with Steak Tartare (using filet, lemon, Dijon, capers...) for a local winery owner recently. What would you suggest?
Spectacular article! Love the humor, you guys hit it out of the park. My life goal is to be as snarky and funny as Geoff and Brian one day (although letting the uni win with aged muscadet is up there too now )
That was rad! Good game gentlemen.