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30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Learning to match food and wine

Most wine lovers instinctively recognize those special wine-and-food matches that ring our chimes: Lamb chops with a fine Bordeaux or first-rank Cabernet ... delicate sole with a Sancerre or other crisp Sauvignon Blanc ... wild mushrooms and Pinot Noir. These are the classic pairings of which culinary dreams are made.

But how can you know whether a pairing will work? Experience is the best teacher, and here's an excellent suggestion from reader Tim P.: Set up a "cause and effect" wine tasting, a sociable gathering in which participants taste and compare small amounts of specific foods and wines specifically chosen to go well together.

This is a great idea! I've always recommended group tastings as the best quick way to learn about wine. By gathering several wine lovers for a social event, you can open more bottles than you would normally try during an evening at home, making it possible to compare and contrast and talk about the wines with like-minded friends.

A planned food-and-wine tasting would add an extra dimension to that, making it possible to check the conventional wisdom by trying both obvious matches (red wine and beef) and not-so-obvious pairings like red wine and fish.

Here's one way to do it: Prepare about a half-dozen foods that can be served in small tasting amounts, and serve them with a lineup of compatible wines. You could keep things focused by serving one pair at a time, but I like the idea of having all the wines and foods out at once so participants can mix and match to see what happens.

Here are a few matching pairs that should make for a good tasting:

  • Beef meatballs with Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir
  • Salmon with Pinot Gris (but also try it with the Pinot Noir!)
  • Shrimp with Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pasta (try short shapes like penne) and tomato sauce with Chianti.
  • Fried chicken (or "nuggets") with Chardonnay
  • Assorted cheeses - try them with all the wines.
This lineup would probably provide about as much food and wine as most people would want to take on in an evening, especially if you serve salad, fruit, bread and maybe a dessert to end the event.

There's plenty of room for variation, though, and if you try this or something like it, I hope you'll let me know. If you would like to join an online discussion on food-and-wine-matching topics, please drop by our Food Lovers' Discussion Group, Or, if you prefer, send me E-mail at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note. But I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

Please tell your wine-loving friends about The 30 Second Wine Advisor, and invite them to register for their own free weekly copy at

30 Second Tasting Notes:
Value French red
Chateau Mas Neuf Chateau Mas Neuf 1998 Prestige Des Gibelins Costières de Nîmes ($9.99)
This earthy wine from the Southern Rhone is a clear ruby color, with tart cherry and leafy green aromas. Spicy red fruit flavors, light and fresh, finish with a tart cherry impression and crisp, tangy acidity that serves it well at the dinner table. U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Feb. 26, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: Works well with bits of leftover pork loin tucked into Vietnamese banh xeo pancakes.

Wine Lovers' Voting Booth:
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From time to time we like to pause and take an informal census of Wine Lovers' Page readers, to remind ourselves - and each other - that the international scope of the World Wide Web makes it possible as never before for people of many languages and many nations to come together in a wine-loving community that spans the Earth.

We know that The 30 Second Wine Advisor readership is a truly international group, so I hope you will take a moment to visit the Voting Booth and tell us where you are. All you have to do is click to and add your answer to the list!

30 Second Advertising Partner:
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If this dilemma sounds all too familiar, I invite you to take a look at Glen Green's trademarked new Essential Wine Tasting Guide.

Glen, a wine lover and professional wine maker in Australia and France, has created a remarkable little quick-reference guide to serious wine tasting in a slick, portable format that literally slips into your shirt pocket, wallet or purse. Slip it out, open it up, and it unfolds to reveal 34 mini-pages of compact wine-tasting information including more than 1,000 specific descriptions to help guide you in the analytical tasting of wine. Just 3 1/2 by 2 1/4 inches, it's about the size of a business card, and it comes with a clear plastic holder to keep it like new.

I was so impressed that I asked Glen's permission to offer the Essential Wine Tasting Guide for sale on Wine Lovers' Page. It's $8.95 plus $2 shipping and handling in the U.S., $4 in other countries. If you would like to take a closer look, the Guide is on display at

30 Second Administrivia
This free weekly E-mail publication is distributed to subscribers every Monday. Previous editions are archived on The Wine Lovers' Page. See

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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time on Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials.

If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, we'd be delighted to have you join the interactive, international forums in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group.

Vol. 3, No. 11, April 2, 2001

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