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10.22.2009

Drink the Wine You Like, No Matter What Scientists Say

I am often approached (in person and online) by budding wine lovers looking for guidance navigating what they see as the treacherous waters of wine and food pairing. That these folks feel the need to seek out expert guidance at all makes me a little sad. The fear, uncertainty and doubt that exists in the minds of the public when it comes to wine and food pairing remains for me one of the greatest travesties in the world of wine. Wine, in all its varieties and flavors, is sadly intimidating enough for most people. The fact that matching it with food introduces a whole other level of stress to the equation seriously bums me out.

So that's why I was a little depressed yesterday to read that Japanese scientists claim to have found the chemical basis for why red wine doesn't go with fish. Studies like this just add to the anxiety that people have about following the "rules of wine."

These scientists suggest that red wine's iron content interacts with the fish (oils?) in a way to produce a "fishy" aftertaste. The higher the iron content of the wine, the worse the aftertaste.

I'm prepared to accept this as true, but the problem with this notion, and all the other so called "rules" of food and wine pairing is that there are so many mitigating factors (dish ingredients, species of fish/plant/meat, cooking method, etc.) that affect someone's enjoyment of a particular wine and food pairing that most rules are quite senseless. Add in the idea that different people like different things and as I've said before, the rules of food and wine pairing are a big fat lie.

Continuing to talk about such conventions like "red wine doesn't go with fish" even when, as these scientists suggest, caveats are appropriate, just perpetuates the myths that drive anxiety in the average wine drinker.

So that's why I say screw the scientific results, drink whatever the hell you want with your fish, even if it is a big, oaky Cabernet out of an iron goblet.

Here's the abstract to the research.

Via Science Daily.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.