Fascinating to see Gallo (now Gallo Family Vineyards, note!) make food and wine matching the focus of their latest glossy, full-colour advertising campaign in the national press (which also coincides with their sponsorship of Gordon Ramsay’s F Word.)
The pairings are far from cautious too. Cabernet Sauvignon with Seared Coriander Tuna and White Grenache with Raspberry Fool are both quite challenging concepts, even for the seasoned wine-matcher.
Looking up their website I discovered they have a 'food and wine matchmaker', a fancy flavour wheel which not only pairs a wine to a food but to its ‘flavour enhancer’ (Interestingly for Barbera, which I wrote about yesterday, the ‘enhancer’ for chicken, turkey and pork dishes is tomato (light) though whether anyone will understand quite what that means is another matter.)
It’s an interesting approach. The enhancers for Pinot Gris and chicken, turkey and pork, for example are “cream sauce (heavy), parmesan (heavy) and lemon (light)”, again pretty well spot-on. On the other hand it’s hard to fathom why Chardonnay would be the ideal match for pasta and vegetarian dishes that are enhanced by ‘clam sauce (heavy) and stir-fry ginger (light)’
The other side of the wheel shows how different cooking techniques can impact on your wine choice. For example, for barbecued - or rather BBQ (heavy) - beef, lamb or veal they come up with an ‘excellent match’ of Zinfandel or Syrah and a ‘great match’ of Merlot or Barbera whereas if you prepare those meats with herbs the recommendation changes to Merlot (excellent), Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah (great) and Zinfandel (good)
I can’t believe a company as savvy as Gallo would have invested their millions in a message like this without being pretty sure that food and wine matching is the subject the winebuying public most wants to know about. It certainly takes the level of food pairing advice offered by the big brands a significant step forward.
Whether the public will be able to grasp quite what they’re on about with all this ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ I have my doubts. But so long as they buy their wines I doubt if Gallo will greatly care . . .