Picture this: A wedding day. Flowers fill the table and perfume the air. Love. Happiness. You have just finished an excellent meal (remember, this is hypothetical).
A flute of something bubbly appears before you, as a guest rises to make a toast. Your glass smells of crisp green apples and rising bread. This is sure to be memorable Champagne, unless…
Unless you already took a bite of that wedding cake. If you did, the wine will become aggressively dry. The cake will be impossibly sweet and cloying
Welcome to the reason why no one seems to like Champagne.
Food and wine pairing can feel pretentious, that is until you realize that a go-to wine can make you dislike certain foods. Ever chase toothpaste with orange juice? Cake and Champagne is a wine-world equivalent. There are others.
I recently conducted a highly judgmental and unscientific survey of my own family, and discovered that sauvignon blanc drinkers eat fish, but dabble in merlot with lean meat. Italian reds are for people dreaming of spaghetti and meatballs, no matter what is on the table. Virtual vegetarians drink very little (have mercy upon them). People who are open-minded about wine are just as open-minded about food.
What does this mean? For starters, that sometimes we unintentionally make food taste bad when we eat it with the wrong wine—and vice versa.
Luckily, there are a few simple rules to live by:
- If a wine seems acidic, squirt some lemon on your food. (Olfactory adaptation 101, for wine geeks)
- Sweet and spicy flavors were MFEO. Accidentally bought an off-dry Riesling that you find too sweet? Just throw it in the fridge and order Kung Pow Chicken with extra Sichuan peppercorns tomorrow night. You won’t believe the difference.
- Enjoy the sweet with the sweet. Ever catch an Italian drop a sugar cube into her prosecco during that wedding toast? Bingo!
- Drink what tastes right to you, even when someone (like me) says it’s wrong.
- Most importantly, always, always start with Champagne. Just like I did on my own wedding day, ten years ago… today.