“Oh, I’m terribly sorry. What’s wrong?”
“I’ll tell you what’s wrong, Mr. Suspenders. These bright yellow side dishes that came with the fish are just awful. Who do you have cooking back there, the Marquis de Sade?”
“I’m not sure I understand, ma’am.”
“They’re full of seeds. The juice burns my hangnails. And sour? I can’t even eat the second one.”
I offer this imaginary conversation to make a simple analogy: before you take a sip of that wine, make sure you’re using it correctly.
Case in point, a friend asked me if the Valpolicella Classico he acquired would pair well with the pasta and tomato sauce he was making for the evening. He had just tasted the wine and it seemed a bit sour to him. Problem was, he was sampling the wine without tasting the food.
Valpolicella is a low tannin, high-acid Italian red that – sampled alone – is a bit like biting into a piece of sour fruit. In this case, it’s sour cherry, which can be a bit sharp to the palate in much the same way that biting into a lemon garnish would be.
All too often, though, we forget that much of the world’s wine is not supposed to be consumed as a stand-alone beverage. Many European wines, like the Valpolicella, are intended to be “squeezed” onto our palates in much the same way as we squeeze the juice of a lemon onto a piece of fish.
Unfortunately, even after the food was prepared, my friend didn’t care for the traditional sweet-tart interplay of the tomato sauce and Italian wine. A good lesson that, even when we combine the wine and food in the “correct” way, we still might think it’s the pits.