One aspect of the wine cult where pretense, snootiness, and faux sophistication are sure to rear their ugly heads is the whole subject of food pairings. People are mortified that their guests will think them philistine or the Clampetts if they offer the wrong wine with the food they’re serving. The wine makers and sellers and reviewers further this completely unnecessary terror with their recommendations, often on little signs near their shelf space. The real purpose, I suspect, is either: A) Create an aura of sophistication around their otherwise mass market, cheapskate priced product, or, B) Create an aura of sophistication around themselves. Imagine if, in the automobile realm, the maker of an entry level econo-box described it thusly: “You’ll enjoy leisurely rides at sunset along California’s Pacific Coast Highway in your new Hyundai Accent…” Yeah, really. The leisurely ride will be rush hour commutes, or trips to Piggly Wiggly for milk.
I just looked, minutes ago, at the website for a wine I’m about to write about. It cost me 7 bucks for a magnum bottle (and then I had a dollar off coupon, too!). The maker says it will go good with game meats, or rosemary-rub filet. Wow, that makes me feel better. What if it didn’t work with pheasant? I’ve seen “food hint” tags in The Store that suggest grilled portobello, lamb stew, and the three dishes in the title of this rant. These were all on moderately priced wines. I don’t go near the section where the wine is likely to be bought by folks who have actually eaten foie gras.
A suggestion to whoever writes these “hints”: if the bottle is priced well under 10 bucks, how about suggesting pairings that might actually occur, at least in my world. “This Pinot Grigio is excellent with Triscuits and Cheese Wiz”, or “A great choice with the other half of the Subway five dollar footlong you got for lunch today”, or “Our Chardonnay is a particularly good selection if Macaroni and Cheese is on tonight’s menu, with a Pop Tart dessert”. That, unfortunately, is the real world. Mine anyway.
So here’s my food rule: Eat whatever you were planning to eat based on what’s in the fridge, and drink whatever wine you have on hand and feel like drinking. If you feel like Riesling with your Hamburger Helper, go right ahead. Somewhere in the world, some elitist wine writer will probably get a sharp pain, though, as if you stuck a pin in a voodoo doll. He might even spit out his foie gras.