Request for Information--Wine Associations

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Does anyone out there know the origin of the association of white wine with fish and red with beef? I know that nowadays not very many people pay attention to these rules, but they must have had an origin in some sort of gustatory or hygienic protocols. Does anyone have a source for this?

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I would suggest that you send Erik an email about this - he knows more about food and drink than any other human I have met....

It is primarily a question of body, but you have to keep in mind that these "rules" are better understood as guidlines, because wines are so individual.

In general, you avoid red wines, particularly full bodied wines like cabernet sauvignon, with fish, because oily fish tends to make the wine taste fishy and the delicate flavor of white fish is crushed by the overwhealming complexity of the red wine. Thus, with your filet of sole, you are best to stick to a light, crisp (read: high acidity) white, like a Portuguese vinho verde. With a stronger fish, like salmon, a good dry rose does the trick (Vin gris de cigare by Bonny Doon, Mateus, or a good Provencale rose are all good with salmon).

Beef, on the other hand, has a robust flavor and texture. You can serve a white with it, but it better be a flavor bomb like a Puligny Montrachet, and even that will be a diservice to the wine.

Now some of the exceptions: I have found that a good dry fruity white, like Bonny Doon's Malvasia Bianca, is perfect with grilled cheeseburgers. Also, I make a pasta with tuna, onions, olives and red wine that screams for a light bodied red (something along the lines of a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (not to be confused with a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is much more akin to a chianti classico) or Egri Bikaver (Hungary's Bull's Blood of the Egar)). Also, I have served Spanish granacha/tempranillo blends with my seafood paella, and have been quite pleased (but note that I serve paella at midnight, and that is after an evening of tapas, grilled meat and plenty of sangria, so I might not be the best judge at that hour).

If you have any specific requests for pairings, holler and I will be happy to make a recommendation. Also, Alexis Lichine goes into more detail on the pairing of food and wine (with a heavy French bias, of course) in several of his books.



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