Wines: Pairing Them With The Perfect Meals
Discovering Their True Tastes

Enjoying a good wine these days can be a daunting challenge. There are some terrific wine inventories popping up in our local grocery stores across the country. The more these wine inventories amass at some of the super shopping centers, the larger number of amateur wine consuirs there will be with questions of which wine to serve with particular meals.

Hopefully I can offer some helpful tips to improve your overall wine experience. There really is nothing much more enjoyable in the culinary arts as the pairing of a sumptuous wine with an elegant dinner.

Cabernet Sauvignon some consider to be the king of reds. A big-structured, dark-fruited wine, the best of which become even more elegant with age. The swirl and taste brings out the flavors of plums, blackberries, and black currant; sometimes violets or rose petals, and often mint, mocha, and eucalyptus or cedar; strong tannins underneath.

It's 3:00 AM, Is Your Wine List Answering the Call?

By Randy Caparoso

It's 3:00 AM in the restaurant world. The economy is rattling our windows, costs are obliterating margins, and last year's projections seem as hopeful as a bride without a first date. The first thing every savvy restaurateur does under these circumstances is not just batten down the hatches, rail in expenses, get focused on advertising and more aggressive with promotions, but also tighten up menus and wine lists.

Of course, everyone knows what a wine list is - the list of wines you can order in a restaurant. Yeah, right. Like "service" is someone taking your order without first saying hello, without telling you the specials or giving intelligent answers, slapping your dishes on the table in no particular order, forgetting to refill your water or to offer coffee, and then taking your money without saying thank you or goodbye.

What do consumers actually look for in a wine list? Seventeen years ago the nation's most popular wine magazine actually put that question to its own readers - all predominantly strong wine and food lovers - in a multi-question poll. The results of three of those queries:

What's Progressive on Restaurant Wine Lists In 2009?

By Randy Caparoso

2008 marked thirty years since I wrote my first restaurant wine list. Which makes a dude who's been through all the wars ponder: what constitutes progress in 2009?

The Cellar Comes Out of the Closet
First, the "cellar" itself need no longer to be somewhere off the restaurant floor. Just as exhibition kitchens in the center of dining rooms have revved up fascination in the culinary arts, glassed temperature controlled cellars in the front of dining rooms or running alongside tables have a higher percentage chance of stimulating fascination in wine.

Going further, hands-on accessibility to bottles has always worked for consumers in retail stores, where they can pick up and examine bottles, and carry them to the cash register. Why not in restaurants? There is no reason why restaurant guests should not be able to walk into a cellar or look at bottle displays next to tables, lovingly touch them, make a selection and bring it to the table themselves. This breaking down of barriers is now done in many wine bars across the country, and it's only a matter of time before we see more of it in formal restaurant settings.

Wine & Food Matching: Science or Art?

By Randy Caparoso

Wine is always called a combination of art and science, and in our schools cooking is always called a food science. If anything, the "art" of matching wine and food has always been one of the least understood aspects of wine appreciation, and a lot of that is because many of our leading wine "experts" (journalists, winemakers, judges, etc.) simply do not understand the science behind the concept.

This is understandable because much of what we know about wine and food matching is a priori - a matter what we know from tried-and-true experience. Therefore, experts and everyday people alike know a good Cabernet Sauvignon is a good match for roast beef, but can we really explicate the sensory reasons why? One could make a valid point that explication has never really been necessary, but consider the cooking done by many of our restaurant chefs, and by ourselves at home, today: beef is no longer just roasted. Nowadays we'll marinate it in salty-sweet-spicy marinades, drench it in sweet fruit or Port infused demi-glace, serve it with hot-vinegary barbecue sauces, douse it lime and chili peppers, top it with lemony couscous or tropical fruit salsas, and on and on. Are these, then, the ideal matches for a typically big, hefty Cabernet Sauvignon? You can say yes; but objectively speaking, there are probably a number of other red wines that could make a better match.