• Walrus and the Carpenter's dilemmaPairing food with wine has been a back and forth battle of—drink what you like and the food will follow or pairing is a delicate process of balancing the hints of fruit and terroir to the subtle spices and textures the dish you are eating provides.

    I say both are correct. Who wants to drink a wine they dislike just to have it compliment the food better, and who can truly appreciate the food when you beat it to death with a wine that doesn’t match? Take Napa cabernet and oysters for example. Oysters are light in texture with hints of cucumber, melon and a touch of seawater giving them a brininess that I love. Some oysters when you close your eyes can transport you to a beach in the sun with waves, sand and a light breeze. Keep your eyes closed. As you walk on that beach imagine a purple tsunami of epic proportions crashing down on top of you absolutely and completely obliterating everything in sight. The cool straw huts were pulverized, the breeze is no where to be found, that kiss of sun and the relaxing feeling you had just a moment ago was ripped to shreds by black plum, currant, tobacco, tannin, acidity and tons of body. Now oysters and Napa cabernet are probably the worst case scenario, but I want to impress a mental image to help show the benefits of pairing.

    Each on their own is a lovely component, but when paired they take on a whole new meaning.

    If you enjoy the subtle differences in oysters than its imperative that you have a wine that is equally light and subtle. Otherwise the wine will overpower the oyster and all you will be left with is the texture of the oyster for the flavor you will taste will be that of the wine.

    Two of my favorite oyster pairing wines are Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc from the region Sancerre in France) and Chablis (Chardonnay from Chablis , France.) Both of these wines are nearly always unoaked and without having gone through malolactic fermentation. This “purist” style of growing and vinifying allows the fruit to speak for itself. In the case of Sancerre and Chablis the minerals in the ground in these regions give the wines themselves a high minerality. This gives them a hint of salinity (saltiness) and they often actually taste like slate or granite in a subdued way. This closely resembles the brininess of an oyster. The lack of tannins in white wine and the crisp acidity give a lively freshness to the wine that compliments the oyster.

    Now go back to the beach. The breeze has returned, the sea water is crystal clear and you can see for what seems like forever. You take a sip of the drink in your hand and notice a little salt on your lips, but as you do the sun comes out from behind the clouds and a touch of goose bumps prickle along your arm as you bask in the glow..

    Like the pairings chocolate and coffee or strawberries and cream. Each on their own is a lovely component, but when paired they take on a whole new meaning. Chocolate has a bitterness that is also found in coffee. This creates a link that gives a base for the other flavors to commingle and develop. With strawberries and cream, the acid in the berries cuts through the cream that is coating your mouth causing a dichotomy to exist of zingy and creamy at the same time.

    In wine and food one looks for the same type of links to help create a better dining experience. What it comes down to is—do you derive more pleasure by food than wine or wine than food? If one trumps the other every time and you don’t see that changing anytime soon than you would take a different approach to pairing. If you love food and don’t want wine to interfere, than drink water in between your wine and food to help cleanse your palate. If you love wine more than food than keep on keeping on, but if you want to find those magical moments where the stars align and the angels sing than I am going to try and help you find some fabulous match ups.