The issue of consistency in food and wine pairing
A while ago I encountered a problem that restaurants must deal with every day: the issue of consistency.
I was doing a series of workshops for the Irish wine distributor Febvre as part of their Febvreuary promotion (clever name!) three of which were held at Drury Buildings in Dublin’s city centre and involved the same menu.
Two courses in particular varied quite significantly - a dish of pappardelle with wild mushrooms where the amount of saucing ranged from quite dry (making the mushrooms more dominant and therefore more pinot-friendly) to creamy which kicked in better (in my view) with the De Bortoli chardonnay we were offering as an alternative.
The T Bone steak also tasted different each time. More or less charred, more or less rare and more or less fatty depending on which part of the cut you got. In session 3 it was significantly salter which make the Banfi chianti we were tasting with it even more appealing (though on balance it was most people’s favourite) The D’Arenberg Darry's Original (a GSM blend from 2010) worked best with the rarer slices and accompanying shallot which again differed in its degree of caramelisation and sweetness. (This by the way is no reflection on the kitchen - simply what you'd expect when you taste a dish on successive occasions.)
Even the wines tasted different, I thought - better on the second day (February 18th) than the first. Bottle variation (some were under cork)? From a different case? Atmospheric pressure? Who knows. Both days were root days as a matter of interest.
The net effect was the pairings varied each session. And so did the reactions of those present. Different people, different preferences.
Does this prove - as I’m sure some would argue - that food and wine matching is a pointless endeavour? You’d expect me to say this but absolutely not any more than it’s pointless putting a dish on the menu as it might not taste exactly the same the following day.
But it does perhaps make a case for keeping an eye on your food and wine pairings particularly if you change elements in a dish (such as the vegetables) or switch vintages. A new delivery of a wine might even taste different from the last few bottles of the previous one. Or, then again, it might not ....
Restaurateurs who offer food pairings I’d be interested to have your reactions to this. How you deal with the issues of vintage variation and consistency in the kitchen?
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