Daring Pairings: A Love-Hate Relationship

The food and wine wars begin when the following soldiers enter the battlefield: garlic, onion, paprika, celery and asparagus, just to name a few feared food items.

“Con pan y vino se anda el camino”*

Eating and drinking make life so much more enjoyable, and one goes with the other. This is why restaurants have long strived to make the solid and liquid sum (remember, this also includes water, beer and other beverages) greater than its individual parts.

Wine can also, however, harmonize (some people prefer this term to “pair”) with a great book, good company or a joyous celebration.

The food and wine wars begin when the following soldiers enter the battlefield: garlic, onion, paprika, celery and asparagus, just to name a few feared food items. This is because the personality of their flavor doesn’t usually combine well with wine. As a result, dishes comprising different elements are the best bet, saving these foods from eternal singlehood.

All of the food and wine pairing commandments seem to have a few things in common. Combining wine and artichokes, for example, seems strictly forbidden. This particular vegetable is feared because of an acid called cynarin. But it’s artichoke season, and we want to enjoy them with the best wines…

Luckily, the renowned sommelier Ferran Centelles explained his latest discoveries in daring pairings during his talk “Wine Has New Friends” at Wine & Culinary. For example, artichokes contain less cynarin when boiled. When fried, they make certain wines seem more voluptuous, and they are particularly fond of sherries.

“In an auditorium full of great international wine experts, sardines with Gran Viña Sol and the similarity pairing of pigeon with Mas La Plana were enormous hits.”

Surveys have found that combinations based on contrasts are most likely to surprise diners, and 25% of these involved cheese.

Unlikely bedfellows

Among wine’s new friends are eggs, which have a terrible reputation: the longer they’re cooked, however, the easier it is to find them a bedfellow they won’t walk all over.

So, where does that leave us? Are eggs, artichokes and vinegar the enemies or allies of wine? Their relationship isn’t impossible, but it does fall somewhere between love and hate. Finding the right balance depends entirely on the complexity of the flavors and the combination of ingredients.

In the end, what is truly impossible to harmonize is bad news, which turns even the best vintages to vinegar, negative attitudes, boredom or sharing a bottle with someone whose company we don’t enjoy.  Everything else can be worked out as long as we find the fun in it. After all, the only rule for matching food and wine is…there are no rules!

Meritxell Falgueras

*Translator’s Note: this popular Spanish saying, which roughly translates as “with bread and wine, one can make the journey,” refers to having your basic needs (sustenance, tools, materials, etc.) covered before embarking on a trip or a work-related endeavor.

Daring Pairings- A Love-Hate Relationship

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