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Discover Great Tastes Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience that making food and wine pairings can be simple. Central Idea: Following basic guidelines and experimenting can help you choose a wine to elevate any meal. Introduction I. Most everybody loves to eat, and there’s no doubt about it we spend a good deal of time thinking about enjoying food. A. When the right flavors are matched, eating is more than just fueling. B. In terms of taste, you’ve blasted off in a lifelong pursuit of that flavor ecstasy just about anytime the opportunity permits more than just a fill-up. Then there’s wine—like food, it tastes good and feels good. A. Because we’ve had those out-of-body food experiences, we wonder, “Can wine make food even better?” B. Whether driven by the glass or the plate, all of you have probably wondered or even agonized about wine pairings at one time or another. Successful wine pairings seem difficult and confusing. Learn a few basic guidelines and get yourself out and experiment, however, and you’ll discover for yourself how wine can truly elevate any meal. Body I. Most of us feel stymied by the obvious hurdles of wine confusion and rules. This is the biggest problem we face when picking out just the right match to achieve a desired experience. A. The rules that most people generally rely on are problematic because they significantly limit their food and wine experiences. The rules have changed, but people’s general understanding hasn’t. 1. Wineanswers.com explains; most of the traditional food-and-wine pairing rules are outmoded now with the influence of other cultures and the globalization of food and wine. 2. The new rule of wine and food pairing is there is no rules, which forces us to broaden the way we look at pairings and to be more open and experimental. B. To illustrate this rule confusion, it’s common for most of us to believe we’ll ruin the whole meal if we make the “wrong” wine choice. 1. You have probably compared pairing to an elaborate science. The simple decision of which wine brings out the best in a given food seems complex and intimidating. 2. It also seems impossible to make sense of all the strange names and fancy descriptions originating from so many different places. We’ve all experienced this. C. How do the changing rules affect us? They just make the process seem more complex. Along with the lack of knowledge, it causes the majority of us feel that matching food and wine is hard work. These food and wine hurdles can be overcome with an understanding of the basic guidelines for successful pairing, along with experimentation. A. Just remember the acronym “F I T”—meaning Flavor-Intensity-Texture—as referenced from Andrea Immer’s book Great Tastes Made Simple.
Matching the flavors, intensities, and textures of wine with food will guarantee you a good match. 2. With FIT, there are infinite combinations of tastes and aromas that you can create simply by finding these similarities and contrasts in food and wine. Rule confusion is eliminated. B. Use the basic guidelines in pairing or tasting experiments to explore wine styles and food flavors to see for yourself how they interact and how simple pairing can be. 1. Personal tastes vary even with the basic guidelines mentioned. a. In her newspaper article “Finding a Good Match”, Lau comments that pairings are highly subjective, and you don’t need to be a wine expert to make a good match. b. Wine can showcase the flavors and complexities of food even through the seasoning it’s cooked with or the sauce it’s served with, which lends to more pairing possibilities that really can only be found through experimentation. 2. Overall, there is no one perfect match for any food and wine combination. C. Although wine and food pairing is arbitrary, some still reject the notion of experimentation altogether and prefer to stick to what they know. 1. Some say, “drink what you like, no matter what you eat.” a. This isn’t the best choice to enhance the flavors of a specific food. b. Without experimentation, you’ll also never know if there’s a wine you’ll enjoy more. 2. Others object and stick with the old rule, “Red wine with red meat, white wine with fish.” a. These hard rules for wine and food matching only take into consideration the general body of the wine to match typical food dishes. b. With the variety of sauces and cooking methods used today, however, a fish or poultry dish can be made thick and hearty and thus better suited for a red wine. This just proves that experimentation may still be the best way to find the best match. III. Last week I matched food and wine together in a simple tasting for you to illustrate wine and food flavor dynamics and the simplicity of using the basic guidelines of flavor, intensity, and texture to simplify rule confusion and make successful matches. A. For a real life example, if I were going to order stuffed Chicken Marsala with parmesan and garlic mashed potatoes from Olive Garden, I would probably choose a Merlot. 1. Merlot has big flavors of plum, berry, and soft spices that nicely complement Italian dishes with heavier cheese sauces and tomatoes. 2. The moderate dryness in the wine that gives it its bite matches the intensity of the semibold flavors of the chicken dish. 3. Merlot, which is medium-bodied red wine, pairs perfectly with the medium richness of the dish as well. B. When all of you tasted California Chardonnay with buttered popcorn and Emmentaler Swiss cheese, you experienced this same pairing logic. 1. You first tried the Chardonnay with buttered popcorn. a. Here, you experienced an excellent flavor match, with the Chardonnay’s rich buttery taste enhanced the butteryness of the popcorn. b. You also tasted a match of intensities, where the moderate intensity of the creaminess, sweetness, and flavor of the butter and salt in the popcorn showcased the intensity of the buttery flavor of the wine. c. The popcorn’s textural complexity also complemented the full-bodied texture of the Chardonnay. 2. When you tasted the wine with the swiss cheese, you experienced similar matches of flavor, intensity and texture to see that many foods can easily bring out different flavors and complexities of a single wine. a. The popcorn brought out the butter flavor of the wine, but the cheese you tasted had a rich, nutty flavor that nicely complimented the nuttiness of the Chardonnay. b. The sharpness of the cheese lent itself a moderately intense flavor that matched the intensity of the rich wine. c. It’s semi-soft but thick and smooth texture perfectly matched the full-bodied, smooth texture of the Chardonnay as well.
Conclusion I. II. III. With those tasting experiments, you have seen how food is a family of flavors, textures, and intensities that truly dazzle when paired with wine, and how easy the whole process really is when FIT is taken into account. You can see that the best way to learn successful pairing is through experience. Take risks and take advantage of the variety of worldy wines that are offered to us this day-in-age. This weekend when you do your regular grocery shopping, swing by a nearby liquor store like Discount Liquor located across from Marketplace Mall in the Wegman’s plaza, or Marketview Liquor off Jefferson Rd near Tops. I challenge you to go out and buy a new wine to go with your dinner. Some of the best wines can easily be found for under $10. Follow the basic guidelines of FIT, and you’ll certainly find something that will please your palette. Experiment, and you’ll discover that wine can elevate any meal, no matter how simple. The sooner you start, the more successful you’ll be in your lifelong pursuit of flavor ecstasy.
Bibliography Books Immer, Andrea. Great Tastes Made Simple. 1st ed. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 2002. Articles Lau, Lionie. “Finding a good match..ZO: A-ALL.” New Straits Times (Malaysia.). June 26, 2005: 19. Internet Sources Sherbert, Felicia M. “Wine & Food Pairing Basics.” <http://www.wineanswers.com/WineAndFood.asp > 8 October 2005. “Basic Principles of Successful Food-Wine Pairing.” <http://www.drinkwine.com//wine_guide/pairing.html> 8 October 2005.
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