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04.14.2004

Food and Wine Pairing Tools

On occasion I go trolling through the Internet to see if I can find good food and wine pairing information. What I end up with generally falls into two categories: articles that deal with the principles of pairing food and wine, like this reasonably good one from Allrecipes.com, and the tools that actually help you do it.

The ones that are of the most interest to me are the latter -- the ones that actually give me ideas of what wines to serve with a particularly challenging dish, or more often, ideas of what to cook in order to complement a wine I feel like drinking.

Here's my take on the three decent ones I've found:

The food and wine Pairing Tool from Food & Wine Magazine.
This recently added tool to the Food and Wine site takes you down two paths, one called Find a Wine the other called Find a Food. The only one that is really useful is the Find a Wine path, which allows you to choose different types of cuisine (albeit from a pretty limited menu that seems focused on American and French, and two token types of Asian food -- I guess all Asian food falls into seafood/vegetable or meat/legume categories ????). In any case, you choose a cuisine, and then the tool tells you the broad categories of wine that match that cuisine (light, fruity reds, for instance) and then you can drill down to regions/varietals, and then to a nice matrix of individual wines.

The other direction (trying to find food to match with your wine, is infuriating, because you are forced to choose a broad category of wine first (i.e. rich, full bodied whites) and then you get a list of types of dishes -- with no opportunity to get more specific about the wine you have. The one nice thing about this path of the tool, though, is that you end up at actual recipes, many of which are excellent.

The Eat, Drink, Dine Web site
While not really a tool, per se, this site provides a similar experience to the Food and Wine tool, but with a combination of instruction about the different varietals and how they complement foods, and a good list of types of cuisines to match. You can start with food or start with wine, and you end up with either a list of specific varietals, or a list of specific dishes (alas no recipes here). I find these pairings to be very intelligent, but I wish they would give at least some representative individual wines as examples of their varietals so you can get a sense of whether when they recommend Chardonnay's, for instance, they are suggesting New World or Old World styles.

Compiled advice from The Wine Lover's Page
While not so well architected as the two previous examples, the simplicity of the approach and the excellent advice make this page worth mentioning. Look to the left for a long alphabetized list of foods. Click one and find out some advice on what wine to serve with it. Unfortunately there's not a "click a varietal, find a food" but the half of the equation that is there is pretty good.

If anyone has pointers to other good/useful/interesting/informative food and wine pairing tools or sites, I'd love to know.

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