Wine verses food position - Printable Version

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- Dogwalker - 05-17-2000 05:54 AM

Before I start this I must say that I don't deny or defend the following opinion, I only present it for consideration and discussion.
My son works in a book store and brought home a book the other night that made the following statement; "The absolute best white wine varieties for food are RIESLING, CHENIN BLANC, and SAUVIGNON BLANC. The food friendliest red varieties are CABERNET FRANC, GAMAY, BARBERA, and PINOT NOIR."
The author continues by saying, "It's shocking how most foods have their flavor ruined by CHARDONNAY, CABERNET and MERLOT wines.
The author's stand is that because food amplifies everything in a wine that the typical rich, heavyweight, high alcohol wines are even further pumped up by "new oak". He says, "they are so massive and overpowering that they obliterate the flavor of all but the richest red meats and sauces".
The author states in the book that the best wine for food should be, "Light to medium body, have no tannin, low alcohol, medium sweetness, high acidity, and no oak".
I don't mention the name of the book or author only because I want his statements to stand or fall on their own merit.
Although I personally haven't been drinking wine for a long time I do know that wine, food and the pairing of them can be a very personal matter. So there may not be a "right answer", but I would interested in the boards' thoughts.
Regards, Chuck

- winecollector - 05-17-2000 07:20 AM

It sounds like this author's head has swelled up to a size that's just a little too big for the rest of his or her body! As far as I'm concerned, when he uses the phrases " absolute best..." and "most foods have their flavor ruined by...", he hangs himself out to dry.

If THIS IS a book for novices, I don't necessarily disagree with his choices of wines that are "food friendly" so to speak. But to generalize literally thousands of meals in this manner from all sorts of different cultures is completely unacceptable to me. Also, you have different degrees of quality to consider of each type of wine that he generalizes as well into one expectation of what he thinks that wine is like.

Again, unless this is a book for people that are clueless when it comes to matching food and wine, I would recommend he keeps his day job! There's just too many wonderful wines out there made from other different grapes for him to make them "irrellevent" when it comes to matching food and wine.

[This message has been edited by winecollector (edited 05-17-2000).]

- Innkeeper - 05-17-2000 07:38 AM

Methinks the book's publication was funded by the Wine In The Honorable Second Tier Asscociated National Districts (WITHSTAND). As a charter member of WITHSTAND, I have long fought for the destruction of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay; particularly those oaky ones. Just you wait, WITHSTAND will win, no matter how long it takes.

- mrdutton - 05-17-2000 07:53 AM

This book is "The Wine Avenger" by Willie Gluckstern. The website is

His day job includes writing wine lists for many of Manhattan's restaurants and working as purchasing director for Nancy's Wines. He also runs a consumer wine school in NYC known as "Wines for Food".

I found myself agreeing with many of his opinions. Maybe not the strenght of the words used, but the ideas presented.

I agree with him that over-oaked Chardonnay is a waste of a good grape in many instances.

Until a few years ago when word spread like wildfire, "Everyone in California is drinking it", Merlot was a wine used to impart some softness to other reds. A blending agent, if you will.

However, I did not rush around the house throwing out my Chardonnay and Merlot after reading his book. I kinda like my Pahlmeyer Merlot and my J. Fritz Chardonnay, but not everyday.

Quite frankly, I don't really find myself drinking Cabernet Sauvignon everyday. My everyday wines are much less bold. However when we roll out the Roast Beef, we break-out the CS! But its gamay or other grapes that provide the wine for the hamburgers, et al.

He comes on strong with his thesis. That has a certain "shock appeal" that grabs one's attention. Throughout the book he does pay particular attention to the wines he believes are the best matches with food:


However he does discuss and suggest as matches many other varieties than these.

You might wish to read the entire book. I really did find it interesting and educational.

- Bucko - 05-17-2000 08:01 AM

I'll raise my hand for the Riesling and Chenin Blanc. These two grapes, IMHO, are the most versatile grapes in the world, easily vinified from a range of bone dry to so sweet it will make you cry.


- winecollector - 05-17-2000 08:02 AM

Innkeeper- You have long fought for the destruction of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay???
What gives? The cyber-floor is yours. Enlighten us if you can.... I'd like to here this!

[This message has been edited by winecollector (edited 05-17-2000).]

- Innkeeper - 05-17-2000 08:23 AM

It all depends on your meaning of the verb destroy. If you use the meaning "to neutralize", you could further postulate "to counteract the activity of." We in WITHSTAND not only believe in ending sentances with prepositions, also believe in countering the activities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay meant to sublimate the fine grapes of the second tier.

[This message has been edited by Innkeeper (edited 05-17-2000).]

- Dogwalker - 05-17-2000 08:53 AM

Right on MRDUTTON!
The man gets one big ATTABOY for his correct guess on book and author.
He is also right that this comment comes in the beginning of the book.
I asked the question knowing that this honorable group would enjoy the banter. And I would become more enlightened.
Wine, the drinking of same and its discussions always seems to bring the best in this group. A good conversation is something thats hard to find these days.

- Thomas - 05-17-2000 01:47 PM

Never being much for expressing opinions, I thought I might give it a go here...

Strange as it seems, I agree completely with Bucko's statement. Even stranger (because I know from where Gluckstern comes) I agree with much of his comments, but not with his verbal machete slashing.

Over oaked we have talked about; it is the bane of wine and food pairing. But so can be 100 percent malolactic white wines, and also chewy, tannic reds, and also table wines in the 15 to 18 percent alcohol class--remember them there rocket fuel Zinfandels of the seventies?

To me, the best match with food is wine with fruit, acid and elegance. Its color, and how the balance of the wine effects the food always depends on the texture and strength of the food.

- mrdutton - 05-17-2000 06:14 PM

Dogwalker said:

"Right on MRDUTTON! The man gets one big ATTABOY for his correct guess on book and author.

Not a guess. I've read the book cover to cover twice and it sits by my computer desk. I use it, amongst other publications, as a handy reference.

Foodie said:

"Even stranger (because I know from where Gluckstern comes), I agree with much of his comments, but not with his verbal machete slashing.

Mr Gluckstern could soften the blows somewhat, couldn't he. But then, if he did that it might not fit his theme or what appears to be his personality (here I can only guess, having never met him).

- winecollector - 05-18-2000 06:35 AM

I second that attaboy for mrdutton! Also dogwalker, good eye for bringing this one to the table! Now as I go through my cellar and throw away thousands of dollars worth of "flavor ruining wine...." (I don't think so!)

Just give me a couple hours with this Gluckstern guy!

And perhaps Innkeeper, it would be a good idea to be a little bit more selective on what verbs you choose to use to end your sentences with.

- Innkeeper - 05-18-2000 06:54 AM

Winecollector, so long as you keep ending your sentances with prepositions, I promise to be a good boy.

- Thomas - 05-18-2000 07:15 AM

What Innkeeper really meant to say was, "I promise a good boy to be."

Dutton, Glucklstern had to sell a book, so he used a technique that would stir controversy--it is called tactics. But then, I know of Willie, and he is a rather forward guy. In fact, we New Yorkers have a way of going right for the jugular.

His thoughts are quite valid on the subject of wine and food. When you travel in Europe, you quite often find that non-descript house wines pair best with the dishes at local restaurants. There is a reason for that phenomenon--centuries of experience and experimenting.

Those big Tuscan reds often do not show up in restaurants in Italy, unless the restaurants are big, tourist-catering places. However, seeking to join the American market, many Europeans are attempting to change their wine styles using more and more oak aging, et al. In Italy they refer to the wines in oak as "barrique" and they often turn me off becasue of too much barrique and not enough local character and food friendliness.

- winoweenie - 05-20-2000 07:36 AM

Just a thot..Cabs, Chards, Zins, flavor-destroying? Guess if this feller bought a 97 ( current ) cab from any of the great ( fine, established, top-line ) producers and opened it tuesday nite for supper ( Okla for dinner ) the tannins on most would be off-putting.However, if he had the parience and facilities to lay those suckers down for 5 or so , what rewards!Them Brits and hollandaise don`t crack the corks on their clarets on arrival.Pardon whilst I enjoy my burger with this 77 Caymus. Winoweenie

- winecollector - 05-20-2000 10:03 AM

'77 Caymus with burgers, eh? Not necessarily something I'd normally do. Let me go see if the trash man came yet. As long as none of the bottles broke....

I wonder if McDonalds would mind if I bring one of these dusty old bottles of Haut Brion in their wonderful establishment? Now that's what I call a "Happy Meal!"

[This message has been edited by winecollector (edited 05-20-2000).]

- winoweenie - 05-22-2000 09:55 AM

Just had a marvelous idea. You bring the Haut Brion and I`ll meet you at the Mc of your choice and I`LL BUY> E- Me if that sounds Okie-Dokie. Winoweenie. P.S. My typing skills are more retarded than my mental I meant to say 87 Caymus, not 77 as all my 77 have been gone for meeny-moons. Winoweenie

- winecollector - 05-22-2000 10:18 AM

Bring the 87 Caymus, I'll bring a 93 Haut Brion. Anyone else want to join us?

- winecollector - 05-22-2000 10:30 AM

Just thought all you Willie Gluckstern disciples might want to know, I just seen the May 8 issue of Time magazine. There's a Riesling article in there on page 81, and some of his "famous quotes" are in there. "There's absolutely no better wine with food," says Gluckstern.

I just wonder if his mission to promote Riesling to the extreme that he does, has anything to do with the fact that he's going to be importing them himself? Don't get me wrong, I like Riesling, but if that's the only wine I had to drink, I think I'll go back to beer!

- winoweenie - 05-23-2000 09:00 AM

You AND me too W.C. I married my darling child bride after finding out she only drank sissy whites as she was allergic to something in reds. It has been a marvelous match,and I`ve convinced her that Ch. St. Jeans` Sonoma Chard is as good as it Gets.Winoweenie

- winecollector - 05-24-2000 02:14 PM

Winoweenie- Tried to e-mail you regarding Happy Meals at McD's, and it came back undeliverable. Change e-mail addresses or something?