Food and Wine Pairing is Bullsh*t . . .

Or so says MW Tim Hanni, who knows a thing or two about the subject . . .

Tim Hanni continues to be one of the most outspoken folks in the wine biz when it comes to flavor profiling and food and wine pairing. Here he takes on the concept of food and wine pairing and calls the idea ‘bulls&t’ with regards to what somms should be doing.

I don’t completely agree with all that Tim discusses, but I do believe he is spot on here. The idea of a ‘perfect’ pairing of food and wine is totally subjective and based on our own individual flavor profiles, our affinity to sweetness or bitterness or whatever, etc. Yes, there might be pairing that ‘work’ for some, but just as often, they will not work for others, and these folks may wonder what is ‘wrong with them’.

In addition, we create more stress than we need to with wine consumers about having to worry about ‘what to pair this wine with’ rather than ‘let’s enjoy this while we enjoy some good food’.

I’m sure many of you may have some very different thoughts on this, but when taking part in the discussion, think of the ‘general consumer’, not all of our wine geek friends please :slight_smile:

When thinking of the ‘general consumer,’ anything beyond boxed wine is “BS,” so why the heck would this so called expert need to chime in?

Tell him to get busy pairing Yellow Tail and Frose’ with circus food.

Just thought I’d lead with… [stirthepothal.gif]


Wine pairing is mostly BS, especially for the mythical general consumer. Even for more Berserk types, or maybe just me, I find that pairing doesn’t really matter much. Almost any well balanced wine can go with almost any food. Most restaurant pairings that I’ve experienced were either generic (Chablis and Seafood!) or meaningless. A good white can go with almost anything. A heavy low-acid red almost nothing.

But. At the extreme ends of spiciness or sweetness, it’s harder, so that can take a little thought and experience. And many of us who have traveled in France or Italy have experienced those rapturous local wine/local food combos. These are not fancy gourmand moments, they’re just great tastiness born of local cultural experience.

And ofc each of our subjective tastes, mind frame, etc. vary wildly.

Please, not this again.

One more thing: it’s obvious that food and wine pairing is first and foremost a profit-driving strategy by restaurants. In many restaurants, I’m sure the somm and chef put effort into finding good pairings. But $$ is the driver.

I tend to agree that there can be too much emphasis on finding a perfect pairing. The closest I’ve ever had to perfect pairings (i.e. I enjoyed both the food and wine more because of the other) was at Alinea in Chicago. Otherwise, wine and food are pretty flexible, as long as the wine is food friendly.

That said, as previously discussed in this thread (Perfect wine or perfect pairing (feat. Cedric Bouchard and Mouton Rothschild) - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers), there are limits to this. I personally would not drink Bordeaux with sushi and think the two items clash to the point of diminishing enjoyment of each.

But have you had CdP and sushi???

I read the article and I think he has a point that food and wine pairing shouldnt be overthought. A find a lot of pairings are personal preference and good wine will pair with good food. Some exceptions of course.

No, it is not obvious at all.

If you qualify it sufficiently - “general consumer”;”perfect pairing” - then calling it bs becomes a truism. Defined a little less stringently I think it denies the casual wine drinkers the opportunity to move from “wine is a beverage (which should taste the same every time)” to “wine is an agricultural product” as I think that considering wine to be part of a meal contributes to that realization.

While I wouldn’t exactly say that food and wine pairing is complete BS, I would agree that it is mostly BS.
For the most part, it is a slight of hand parlor trick which allows sommeliers and other self-styled experts to aggrandize themselves.
I think that most of us can agree, however, that the ratio of the number of words written on the topic to the number of words merited by the topic approaches infinity.

Every time is doesn’t work.

When you phrase the question as a “perfect match” then of course there can be no debate. Perfect is in the mouth of the taster. However, Somms can be very helpful in recommending wines that you might not normally pick or exposing you to wines with which you are not familiar. For restaurants that have an extensive by the glass list and a knowledgeable Somm I have yet to be disappointed by having the Somm pick the wines. I have also been pleasantly surprised by Somms recommendations of wines I am familiar with but would have never ordered.

It’s not bullshit; it’s subjective. What works for one person won’t for another because of many factors, including their genetics (i.e. Are they a super-taster, or do they have a low count of taste buds on their tongue?). I’ve had pairings at family functions that some in the clan really enjoyed including me, but my father and brother thought tasted horrible together. Can’t get much closer than that genetically, yet we perceived the matches differently.

"Echoing Sarah Heller MW’s opinion, Hanni warned that those who believe food and wine pairing has potential in China will be in for an unpleasant surprise.

“Thinking wine and food pairing will work in China will cause one of the biggest disasters in the wine industry we’ve ever seen,” he said.

In a typical Chinese restaurant setting, people order several dishes to share for the table. Each dish probably has its unique flavor, texture, etc. They are not served in sequence. At any point of time you have several main dishes on the table and you just take whatever you like with no fixed order. Even without wine, just having all various types of dishes on the table at the same time is a very different dining experience from the 3-course setting. How do you pair wine with food in that setting?

I guess wine and food pairing is great when it’s done right. It’s just not a must…

Well said! [cheers.gif]

I’ve had a bunch of Champagne and Bordeaux in banquet settings in China and Hong Kong and never had any sort of clash or issue. IMO any sufficiently acidic wine will work. Also worth noting that the Chinese drink copious amounts of tea with food, and that said tea is usually quite tannic

I think the compulsive need to carefully calibrate pairings is poppycock perpetrated on the unsuspecting public

I’ve eaten at just about every 2 and 3 Michelin star restaurant in the Bay Area and I agree with Rich’s sentiment. The great majority of pairings are offered at high markups, even if there’s been a good amount of thought put into the selection. But of course it might be different elsewhere

Has PETA ruined circus food as well?

Millennials ruined circus food.

To the point that circus food is dead at retail.

I read the article. When he comes to my house and eats an entire plate of home made Fettuccine Alfredo with his choice of Schrader GIII, SQN Syrah or Saxum James Berry Vineyard from my cellar, we can talk. Otherwise, he can take the speech he gave to a gathering of Sauvignon Blanc winemakers in New Zealand and pour it in the cat litter where the cat pee flavor of SB will be right at home. I wonder if he was paid or if his expenses were covered by the inviting group or someone else in the industry. Maybe we have another Big J scandal brewing in which he tries to shill for a winery or group that is paying him. I have NO KNOWLEDGE that is the case, but inquiring minds want to know. I’ve heard enough vendor-fest presentations in my life to immediately ask the question.

And for thread drift porpoises:

No, but they ruined circus souvenirs! No more baby alligators, baby turtles and baby chameleons (yeah, I know, they were technically not chameleons).