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Wine and Food Wednesday
Conversion on the Road to Damascus?

By Stephen Eliot

I too often get the feeling that the first rule of wine blogging is to challenge and dismiss any notion of "rules", and the idea that there actually might be relevant guidelines to "food and wine pairing" is regularly a point of attack. We are told that more people drink wine without food than with it and numbed into lethargy by a monotonous drone of "drink what you want, you know your tastes better than anyone else." Ultimately, I cannot argue with that simple statement, but, as I have written more than once, a few simple principles - let's not call them "laws" - hold true for most of the people most of the time, and I for one still find the great food and wine match to be a pleasure that is considerably more than a sum of its parts.

Those thoughts visit me again as I sit with my morning coffee and spy in today's blogging headlines one titled How I Fell Back In Love With Food-And-Wine Pairing (And Why The "Drink Whatever You Want" Mantra Might Be Wrong). It seems that Joe Roberts, aka 1 Wine Dude, has rejoined the ranks of those who think that there just might be something to a few rough food and wine guidelines after all.

Now, I do not think that the " ‘drink whatever you want' mantra" is wrong, but I do believe that with time and experience most people will find certain combinations pleasant and others quite the opposite most of the time. I would not point a finger and sneer at someone who wants to wash down braised lamb shanks with Chablis or a delicate Dover sole recipe with a young Cabernet, but I am willing to bet that most folks would not leave the table in a particularly good mood.

Yes, Joe, a reasonable road map will make the journey more pleasant and can avoid some nasty bumps in the road. Moreover, getting things "right" can make something pleasant downright delicious and memorable, and I do get tired of being called an irrelevant, self-appointed gate-keeping elitist for simply pointing it out.

Joe wraps up his epiphanal rant by saying "Most of us have probably shed the "it's gotta be perfect" food-and-wine pairing attitude a long time ago, but please don't give me the "you can drink whatever you want with anything all the time" mantra - because it's bullsh*t.  Don't bother with a laundry list of food-and-wine pairing rules, but don't act like there are no guidelines anymore, because wine geeks are smart people, and more than totally capable of learning and mastering rough guidelines from the pros - ones that have been proven to work in professional settings for many years."

I could not agree more.

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