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Daring Pairings: A Master Sommelier Matches Distinctive Wines with Recipes from His Favorite Chefs

Photographs by Joyce Oudkerk Pool
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 364
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  • Book Info
    Daring Pairings
    Book Description:

    The best wine and food pairings create harmony among unexpected flavors. Chardonnay, Riesling, and Merlot are classic pairing choices, but less conventional grape varieties like Albariño, Grenache, Grüner Veltliner, Malbec, and Tempranillo are becoming increasingly popular, coveted by those with curious palates and a taste for good value. InDaring Pairings, the adventurous companion to the acclaimedPerfect Pairings, Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein shows how anyone can bring these emerging, exciting varieties to the table. He ventures into wine's new frontiers, exploring the flavors and pairing potential of thirty-six distinctive grapes from around the world, including Argentina, Spain, Italy, Greece, and France. In his entertaining and approachable style, Goldstein offers advice on crafting unforgettable wine and food pairings, suggests wines for everyday and special occasions, and recommends producers and importers. Thirty-six star chefs present recipes specially tailored to Goldstein's wine selections, and full-color photographs display these dishes in delectable splendor. This authoritative, down-to-earth guide reveals that pairing food and wine is no great mystery-anyone willing to explore or experiment can create bold and memorable combinations.With recipes and commentary from:Nate Appleman, Dan Barber, Ben Barker, Paul Bartolotta,Michelle Bernstein, Floyd Cardoz, Robert Del Grande, Tom Douglas, Suzanne Goin, Joyce Goldstein, Christopher Gross, Fergus Henderson, Gerald Hirigoyen, Philippe Jeanty, Douglas Keane, Hubert Keller, Loretta Keller, David Kinch, Evan Kleiman, Mourad Lahlou, Michael Leviton, Emily Luchetti, Laurent Manrique, Lachlan M. Patterson, Cindy Pawlcyn, Anne S. Quatrano, Michael Romano, Susan Spicer, Frank Stitt, Craig Stoll, Ethan Stowell, Charlie Trotter, Larry Tse, Richard Vellante, Vikram Vij, Kate Zuckerman

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94556-2
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. [Photographs]
    (pp. None)
    Joyce Oudkerk Pool
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
    (pp. viii-ix)
    (pp. 1-8)

    As a professional wine educator I travel all over the country and around the world. Wherever I go, I encounter folks who share my passion for wine and food. Living out the premise of Walt Disney’s “It’s a Small World,” I have gone from robust dialogues about the impending harvest in Australia while enjoying German Riesling with street food in Singapore to discussing French wine over takeout Cajun gumbo and Japanese sushi from Whole Foods, washed down with Spanish Garnacharosado, in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. We’re fortunate to have access to a dizzying range of world cuisine and...

    (pp. 9-25)

    To many people, learning about pairing food and wine is like mastering a foreign language. Both require a little study. Both become easier with practice. And with both, you reach a point when your knowledge becomes reflexive.

    I feel fortunate to be able to speak fluent French. For years I studied it in school, diligently memorizing verb tenses, vocabulary, and grammar. Then, on arriving in Paris to work, I realized that despite all that study, I was far from being able to communicate, much less speak fluently. Nobody I worked with spoke English, and had it not been for the...

    (pp. 26-29)

    • albariño
      (pp. 33-38)

      I first tasted a Spanish Albariño in the mid-1980s, when I was running the wine program at Square One, my mom’s seminal Mediterranean restaurant in San Francisco. The grape was relatively unknown at the time. I was captivated by its steely acid and sharply defined fruit, perfect for so much of the restaurant’s food. A trip to Galicia a few years later expanded my horizons even more, and I’ve been a walking sandwich board for the grape ever since, preaching its virtues and those of its wine to all who will listen.

      Albariño also contributes to the best Vinho Verde...

    • arneis
      (pp. 39-44)

      This dry, zippy Italian white is crafted specifically from the Arneis di Roeri grape, which has been grown for centuries in the Piedmont region of Italy. The contemporary interest in modern, nonnative varietals has meant that Chardonnay and other international grapes have begun to supplant local Piedmontese grapes like Arneis (and Erbaluce), but fortunately several committed producers are ensuring that we will have this great grape and its unique wines for years to come. For me, Arneis is one of the white wines that really hits its mark, so let’s help them spread the word!

      Alternative Names Barolo Bianco (Italy)...

    • assyrtiko
      (pp. 45-50)

      When we think of Greek white wine, retsina—Greece’s inimitable gift to the wine world—typically comes to mind. Known less for its complexity than for its distinctive resiny or aniselike notes, this Greek wine pairs well with fresh fish or octopus in a seaside Greek taverna but generally doesn’t add much distinction to the modern international table. Given the rising importance of Greek table wines, I asked a few importers of these wines and fellow sommeliers which Greek white wine excited them most, and they confirmed my belief: Assyrtiko is the most significant white grape cultivated in Greece today,...

    • chenin blanc
      (pp. 51-57)

      There are few grapes that you could build an entire meal around, serving different styles of the same variety—from sparkling to dry to off-dry to sweet and in between. Chenin Blanc is one of them. Its variety is astonishing, though it tends to earn even less respect than Riesling. Still, after decades of advocacy by wine lovers, Riesling has achieved increasing popularity among wine drinkers. Riesling’s need for a cool climate constrains supply, as only a small number of regions can grow it successfully. Europe’s capacity for producing good Riesling is almost maxed out, and the same is becoming...

    • garganega
      (pp. 58-63)

      When I first began exploring Italian wines in the late 1970s, the selection of Italian white wine was poor: aside from the signature Verdicchio in the fish-shaped bottle and a few token bottles of Pinot Grigio, my exposure was limited primarily to Soave and its principal grape, Garganega.

      The great challenge facing Soave, and thus Garganega, was its own popularity: many producers fell into the same trap as makers of Pouilly-Fuissé and Vouvray in the 1970s and 1980s, which was to blindly satisfy the skyrocketing demand by overcropping and compromising quality. Sadly, all three of these wines have suffered as...

    • grüner veltliner
      (pp. 64-70)

      It’s apropos that this fashionable wine goes by the sobriquet “Groo-vee” when ordered by wine and food lovers in chic restaurants. Riesling never got this much respect! This grape has been around for a while, but only of late has it been treated like the “It” girl just off the plane from Vienna. But given how well Gruner Veltliner pairs with an extensive range of food, this girl seems like she’ll be around for a while, like Catherine Deneuve, rather than being a one-it wonder, like RuPaul.

      Alternative Names Grüner, Grunmuskateller, Manhardrebe, Mouhardsrebe, Weissgipfler (Austria), Veltlin Zelene (Czech Republic), Veltini...

    • marsanne
      (pp. 71-77)

      With siblings there are always comparisons: Bobby is smarter than Johnny, and a better athlete as well. Such is the relationship between Marsanne and its sibling, Roussanne: Marsanne is Johnny. Of the two grapes, Marsanne is produced in greater quantity, in large part because of its more consistent yields and more predictable vinification. However, it’s less aromatic than Roussanne and often produces wines that are big in alcohol but short on complexity. This reality leads many wine drinkers to declare that it’s the underachiever. Nevertheless, well-made Marsanne is a real treat and can be wonderful with food.

      Alternative Names Avilleran,...

    • muscat
      (pp. 78-88)

      Muscat is the most difficult variety to write about in this book. Given the range, the sheer number of selections, and the diversity of wine styles, it deserves a book of its own. The Muscat family reminds me ofMy Big Fat Greek Wedding—a gathering of hundreds of distinctive characters. The bride’s family, the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains grape, is Greek in origin, as well as traditional, noble, social, and gregarious. The groom’s family, the Muscat of Alexandria grape, is foreign (from Egypt), also numerous, but less extroverted than the future in-laws. Together they make up a large,...

    • pinot blanc
      (pp. 89-96)

      When I think about Pinot Blanc I am reminded of the classic TV showWhat’s My Line?and its trademark line, “Will the real X please stand up?” It’s very difficult to identify or characterize Pinot Blanc, which goes under many aliases in different parts of the world. Although it’s often referred to as “poor man’s Chardonnay,” Pinot Blanc in fact has little in common with Chardonnay. The bottles labeled Pinot Blanc in France’s Alsace are usually blends consisting of as much of the local Auxerrois grape as of Pinot Blanc. And most of what is bottled in California as...

    • prosecco
      (pp. 97-104)

      Despite its recent popularity as a sort of soda pop among celebrities, Prosecco is a tasty, fun, affordable sparkling wine. This enjoyable drink has surpassed Asti Spumante as Italy’s number-one exported sparkling wine—and there’s a lot of Asti Spumante in the world. Happily, most of us have been embracing Prosecco for what it is—an enjoyable, food-friendly effervescent sipper—and not as a fashion statement to be sipped through a fluorescent-colored straw.

      Alternative Names Balbi, Glera, Serprina, Tondo (Italy)

      Styles Light- to medium-bodied dry white, rosé (relatively rare), dry to sweet sparkling

      Sometimes Blended With Bianchetta, Pereza, Pinot Bianco,...

    • roussanne
      (pp. 105-111)

      Roussanne is a grape that you should definitely know. Sadly, this rich, honeyed grape is quickly disappearing from the vineyards of Hermitage and other appellations in the northern Rhône Valley where it once held court. It is difficult to ripen and grow, and its tendency to oxidize provides vintners with challenges at every turn. Amazingly, even though it comes off as rich and exotic, with an apparent lack of structure that makes it seem as if it’s falling apart, it can hold that pose for years, even decades. A permitted component of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Roussanne is sharper and more flamboyant...

    • sémillon
      (pp. 112-120)

      Sémillon shows two faces to the world. The principal variety in the wine that most connoisseurs consider the finest expression of great dessert wine, Château d’Yquem of Sauternes, is the same one that makes the racy and dry table wines ordered by the glass in hundreds of fashionable restaurants from Sydney to Seattle.

      Many people erroneously think it’s Sauvignon Blanc that drives the great sweet wines of Sauternes and its satellite appellations. In fact, it’s Sémillon that provides the highest percentage of fruit in the blend, the rich color, and the velvety texture, and is most strongly affected by the...

    • torrontés
      (pp. 121-127)

      Over and over in food and wine publications, I’ve read that Torrontés is the next Malbec. While I agree that Torrontés’s time is a-coming, about all it has in common with Malbec is that they are both staple grapes of Argentina. One is white, the other is red; one has its roots in Argentina, and the other is clearly imported from France. And although they both have their place at the table, they are unlikely ever to be served with the same dishes.

      This explosive white wine is intoxicating, with aromas reminiscent of a Brazilian fruit stand and Hawaiian leis...

    • trebbiano
      (pp. 128-135)

      Trebbiano owes its importance to the world of distilled spirits as much as to the world of wine. The ubiquitous grape variety of Italy, providing the source of the great majority of Italian white wines, it’s also the basis for France’s great brandies, Cognac (for which the grape is known as Ugni Blanc) and most Armagnac (for which it’s known as St.-Émilion). Estimates indicate that Trebbiano vines produce more wine than any other variety in the world, even though the Spanish Airén grape is planted on more acreage. And yet it is still more often distilled than vinified as a...

    • txakoli
      (pp. 136-141)

      In public speaking, you’re advised never to start off your presentation with an apology. Nevertheless, I am sorry. I am sorry that I have made the decision to present the grape Hondarribi Zuri in this book not by the name of the grape but rather by the Basque name of the far better-known wine made from it, Txakoli. The reason is simple: the name Hondarribi Zuri is unlikely to appear on any wine labels, front or back. If you don’t want blank looks from a store clerk, ask for Txakoli.

      Including this wine here, as with Assyrtiko, is a bit...

    • verdejo
      (pp. 142-147)

      The arrival of Verdejo in the United States from Spain in the mid-1980s greatly boosted the reputation of Spanish white wines. Vinified most often in stainless steel vats and fermented cool, Verdejo offers up dry citrus and pear-flavored white wines that pair well with food. Its success paved the way for the arrival of Albariño on the market a few years later.

      Although they sound the same, don’t confuse Verdejo with Verdelho. Verdelho (or Verdello) is a great, somewhat dry grape that’s closely associated with the Portuguese island of Madeira. It produces fortified wines with crisp acidity and unusual lime...

    • vermentino
      (pp. 148-155)

      The wine industry of southern Italy has emerged from the shadows of its central and northern neighbors. No longer looked upon as curiosities, the local red grapes, led by Aglianico and Primitivo (a grape that is identical to Zinfandel), have caused a stir with their deep, full-bodied wines exploding with spice, parched-earth notes, and concentrated, ripe black fruit. Equally intriguing are the region’s new white wines. Tasty white blends from Sicily are derived from both indigenous and international varieties, and Sardinia is producing vibrant and delicious wines from the newly fashionable Vermentino.

      The Vermentino grape is grown widely on Sardinia,...


    • aglianico
      (pp. 159-165)

      Italy boasts three great red grapes: Nebbiolo, from Piedmont, in the north; Sangiovese, from Tuscany in central Italy; and Aglianico, from the south. Sadly, although Nebbiolo and Sangiovese are well established, Aglianico is little known or appreciated outside a small group of fans.

      The most complex grape of southern Italy, Aglianico has thick, chewy, black or dark cherry fruit and a lively personality along with ample, sometimes massive tannins that are balanced by sharp acidity. Although not for the faint of heart, it is a wonderful wine for lovers of robust reds and for wine collectors. The best Aglianicos age...

    • barbera
      (pp. 166-172)

      In the Piedmont region of northern Italy, they say Barolo and Barbaresco (made from Nebbiolo grapes) are for selling, and Barbera is for drinking. Piedmont’s most widely planted red grape, Barbera comprises nearly half of the red-wine grapes planted in northern Italy. But the Italians have no monopoly on this wonderful grape, which is cultivated successfully in many other countries.

      One of the most remarkable aspects of the grape is its climatic range: it is the world’s sixth most widely planted red-wine variety. It’s also versatile in the bottle. Depending on the age of the vines and the amount of...

    • cabernet franc
      (pp. 173-179)

      As a former kids’ sports coach, I think a lot about team dynamics. Steady rather than a superstar, Cabernet Franc is a key player on any blended red-wine team. I love to have players like Cabernet Franc on my squad—consistent, productive, and easygoing. Not nearly as demanding as Cabernet Sauvignon, and more predictable than Merlot, Cabernet Franc quietly makes many wines shine; yet when the pressure is on it to perform solo, as it does in many Loire Valley appellations, it proves itself equal to the job.

      Cabernet Franc brings an herbal note to a wine, ranging from slightly...

    • carignan
      (pp. 180-187)

      Carignan (sometimes spelled with ane,asCarignane) can boast that it’s the second most planted red wine grape in the world after Grenache and in the top ten of all wine grapes planted globally. This would be quite an accomplishment if it were planted for the right reasons, which is unfortunately not the case. Great Carignan, still and dry as a red or rosé table wine, or sweet and fortified as a splendid dessert wine, can be delicious, balanced and, in the best cases, suitable for cellaring. But not all Carignan and Carignan-based wines are great.

      Carignan is celebrated...

    • carmenère
      (pp. 188-193)

      The story of Carmenère is a bit like the tale of the ugly duckling. Banished from France’s Bordeaux, it was quietly transported to Chile, where it was previously unknown but embraced and subsequently confused with Merlot. And it thrived. When the grape was later discovered by accident to be Carmenère, a Chilean swan emerged.

      Although Carmenère is not indigenous to Chile, it might as well be, as it performs better there than anywhere else on earth. Chileans take pride in this grape, much as Argentineans do with Malbec and New Zealanders do with Sauvignon Blanc.

      Alternative Names Cabernelle (France), Carmenelle,...

    • cinsaut
      (pp. 194-202)

      Cinsaut (or Cinsault) is most familiar not for itself, but for its role as one of the two parent grapes of the often-maligned Pinotage. Nevertheless, it is a grape to be reckoned with. It’s one of France’s most prolific producers (ranked as high as fourth in the late 1970s). With the focus on sexier, more-complex grapes with higher pedigrees, however, Cinsaut has fallen out of favor. It is still used as a blending grape in southern France and is an important component in one of the world’s greatest rosés, from Tavel in the southern Rhône Valley. In fact, this red...

    • dolcetto
      (pp. 203-210)

      The wordauthenticityhas been abused to the point where it’s almost meaningless. But Dolcetto is about authenticity. With the exception of a few winemakers who seek to make the grape into something it isn’t, Dolcetto, by and large, is an honest, direct, and completely unpretentious grape that delivers on its promise: a juicy, grapey, and almost Zinfandel-like variety that provides great pleasure when enjoyed fresh and young.

      Dolcetto is one of the light, bright reds that flexibly play at the table and pair up as happily with many fish and “white wine” dishes as with classic “red wine” meals....

    • gamay
      (pp. 211-218)

      Gamay is the butt of far too much ridicule. As a person who loves the grape, I’m tired of jokes about how it’s just Hawaiian Punch on steroids or Kool-Aid with a kick. Yes, most Gamay is made into that often-bland wine called Beaujolais Nouveau, but this single interpretation does not tell the full story of this unique grape.

      Furthermore, there’s confusion about the “real” Gamay grape, which is Gamay Noir au Jus Blanc (“black Gamay of clear juice”). It is not the same grape as Napa Gamay (Valdeguié), Gamay Beaujolais (a strain of Pinot Noir), Gamay du Rhône, or...

    • grenache
      (pp. 219-228)

      The wordpangkarrain Aborigine means “sense of place,” similar to the concept ofterroirbut more ephemeral and hard to pin down. I prefer the Aborigine word, though outside Australia it’s virtually unknown. I’ve heard it used most often there with reference to Grenache, for which soil and climate are especially important. Australian Grenache, the country’s number two grape (after Shiraz), makes and contributes to many of the country’s best red wines.

      Grenache has many homes and faces. It can make extraordinary varietal wines, as the rich examples of Australia, Spain, France, and the United States all demonstrate. It...

    • malbec
      (pp. 229-235)

      As is the case with several other grapes, Malbec has proved to be more successful as an expat grape than in its homeland. Carmenères from Chile are much better than anything left in France. With Malbec, the wines coming from Argentina are outclassing most of the wines from France’s Southwest—including Cahors, where Malbec is renowned. A gifted Argentinean winemaker told me that Malbec makes great wines anywhere in the country. There may be regional differences, but the results are always good. Judging from my tastings across the country, he’s right.

      Alternative Names Auxerrois, Cot (France), Malbech, Malbeck (Italy)


    • mencía
      (pp. 236-242)

      About fifteen years ago, I first tasted Mencía as a basicjoven, a young and unoaked wine, in a café near Cambádos in Spain’s Galicia region. I was being entertained by a friend who owns a few wineries in the Rías Baixas, and we enjoyed a casual lunch of fish, seafood, and plenty of Albariño, the local white wine. He went on to ordercocido, a rich, meaty stew that doesn’t work with crisp Albariño, and with it a carafe of this wine. I was mesmerized. It was so tasty, exploding with ripe black raspberry fruit, black spice, and distinctive...

    • mourvèdre
      (pp. 243-250)

      Because most wine lovers know this grape by its French name, I chose to title this chapter Mourvèdre rather than Monastrell (as it is known in Spain) or Mataro (a name used in California and Australia). Overlooked but interesting regardless of what you call it, this grape offers up peppery fruit and an edgy earthiness. It is gaining favor far and wide.

      Grown in Spain and southern France for centuries, Mourvèdre has experienced renewed popularity in France, but sadly it has been losing ground in Spain, where it competes with traditional grapes like Tempranillo and Garnacha and international varieties like...

    • nebbiolo
      (pp. 251-259)

      If I were asked to name a variety that isn’t at the tip of everyone’s tongue but can rank among the longest-lived, greatest red wines in the world, it would likely be Nebbiolo. Possibly the finest grape of Italy, red or white, Nebbiolo offers soft versions as well as the prolific age-worthy bottlings of Barolo and Barbaresco in Piedmont. The best Barolo and Barbaresco are must-have bottles in any collector’s cellar and can improve for thirty years or more in great vintages. But not all Nebbiolo wine is made in these two esteemed regions: Nebbiolo is also found in other...

    • petite sirah
      (pp. 260-267)

      I field three questions about grape varieties more often than any others. The first is the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Fumé Blanc (none; it’s the same grape). The second is the difference between Syrah and Shiraz (none; it’s same grape). The third is the difference between Syrah and Petite Sirah. Okay, pull up a chair. Often confused with “real” Syrah, “real” Petite Sirah is actually a grape called Durif—named for the Dr. Durif who, in the 1800s, discovered this cross of the prized Syrah with the less-prized Peloursin—which originated in France’s Rhône Valley. Ironically, there’s almost no...

    • pinotage
      (pp. 268-275)

      The variety that seems to take the most bashing from my wine-geek friends is Pinotage. Sadly, it’s the wine they love to hate. South Africa’s pioneering cloning of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut has yielded a widely misunderstood wine. If the Pinotage of today resembled the wines of even just a decade ago, the drubbing would be justified. In the days of apartheid, South Africa’s somewhat isolated wine market led consumers and producers to start taking pleasure in the quirky flavors and faults of the only wines that they could get or make—a phenomenon known as “cellar palate.” (Yes, flavors...

    • tannat
      (pp. 276-283)

      The nameTannatis derived from the wordtannin. No wine could be more aptly named and perhaps, in its own way, more onomatopoetic—Tannateven sounds harsh as it rolls off the tongue. It’s a brute of a grape that, unless carefully managed, can leave your mouth feeling as if it had been rubbed with a sheet of coarse sandpaper. Fortunately, Tannat today is better understood, as contemporary winemakers have worked to soften its rough nature, bringing out its inky-dark fruit while taming its astringency.

      The grape that gives substance to the wines of Madiran, the neighbor of Bordeaux...

    • tempranillo
      (pp. 284-291)

      When I’m asked which is my favorite wine, I usually reply in one of two ways: it’s like your kids—it depends what day; or, as long as it’s balanced, varietally correct, and true to its specificity of place, I’m happy. But at the end of the day, I suppose I’m a Pinot Noir guy and—a Tempranillo guy. I love Pinot Noir because of its seductive charm, intoxicating complexity, and amazing peacock’s tail of flavor (when it’s at its best). But Tempranillo I rate equally high because of its incredible food-friendliness, range of styles, and unique character.

      The most...

    • touriga nacional
      (pp. 292-299)

      Portugal’s wine industry has always found market conditions challenging in the United States. First, the Portuguese language can intimidate consumers, and some of Portugal’s native grapes have tongue-twisting names. Second, Portugal lacks most of the household-name grape varieties that many of us latch on to as we are learning about wine. Finally, Portuguese wines have been overshadowed for years by those of neighboring Spain. However, anyone who has been to Portugal knows how wonderful its wines are, and how special the people and cuisine make this country. Bread still tastes like bread, wine still tastes like wine, and Portugal’s winegrowing...

    • xinomavro
      (pp. 300-307)

      How can a grape whose name means “acid black” and reads like line 4 of the eye test at your optometrist’s office be a rising star on the American wine scene? American understanding of Greek wines is limited mostly to retsina, which is white; few have heard of Mavrodaphne, the luscious dessert wine. Ask most folks about Greek reds, even the better-known Agiorghitiko, and you’ll elicit a blank stare. So it’s fitting that the last wine grape to be addressed in this book is perhaps the most obscure of all.

      Grown only in Greece, Xinomavro is unique in both flavor...

    (pp. 308-314)
    (pp. 315-317)
    (pp. 318-319)
    (pp. 320-325)
    (pp. 326-330)
    (pp. 331-348)
    (pp. 349-353)