hey wine guy – what wine goes with this goofy menu?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

I get letters... well, actually, e-mails. A lot of e-mails. Some offer criticism, some commentary, some suggestions. Most ask questions, as readers see me not only as a guide or critic, but also more as a sommelier or concierge. I help when I can, but honestly, there are only so many unpaid hours in a working day. At the end of the day, like most of you, I have to earn a living.

Here’s a recent query:

“Dear Paul, would like your help. Daughter and future son-in-law would like to feature local (Washington/regional) wine/beer for out of town guests. I'm father of the bride hosting backyard night-before-wedding dinner a week from Saturday.

I'm wine and beer ignorant and don't drink much - know what I like when I taste it. For the wedding (next day) it's salmon and A-Z Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir (from Oregon). Beer is Pike Place Kilt Lifter and their Pale Ale.

But I need help with our Persian dinner menu (chicken, beef, lamb, egg plant, rice, falafel, humus, salads) local wine and beer selection. Any ideas (price range $10-15).”

PG: I am tempted to fire off a less-than-generous reply when I read something like this. Here’s someone who expects me to 1) recommend a very sophisticated wine and beer menu to go with Persian food (!); 2) keep it within a price range (but no total budget); 3) mysteriously guess at what his daughter, son-in-law and their guests happen to like; and 4) do it quickly and for free!

But I reined in my inner grouch, at least temporarily, and suggested that he simply do a little reading through the newspaper columns archived, for free, that all contain wine suggestions within this price range. His reply:

“I did indeed go through your archives, which is why I contacted you.
But I have no clue as to how to pair what we're having to eat with all your wonderful suggestions. So I figured you could make it 'simple' for me.”

PG: Here is the crux of it. Never mind what else I might have going on in my work week, I guess I should drop everything and make life “simple” for some complete stranger, who doesn’t even like wine in the first place!

My final reply: “I have a very simple philosophy about food and wine. Everything goes with everything. Give people a lot of choices and let them have fun.”

For more on this line of thinking, check out this link to a recent article I wrote in Wine Enthusiast magazine.


Larry D said...

PG - I would offer up Pacific Rim White Flower - delicious with just about everything and celebratory, as well as some simple red blend like house red or renegade - for those who want something a little heavier. Easy, inexpensive and obtainable.

Anonymous said...

How much of your valuable time would it have taken to recommend a nice Riesling and a couple of nice Washington red wines to someone that is clearly your FAN??...as in he appreciates what you do and respects your writing.

PaulG said...

My wine column, to which I directed this reader, has dozens of excellent selections in his price category. He wanted specific bottles matched to specific dishes. And then of course, there would be the question of where do I find these wines, etc. I am not a wine retailer. Such questions are best answered by the person who can sell you the wine on the spot.

Michael Teer said...

You can tell him to contact a local, independent wine retailer. This is part of what we do and we would be happy to help him.

PaulG said...

Michael, I do! Over and over and over. Though some of my retail friends think I've "sold out" to big business, nothing could be farther from the truth. I'll bet I've written literally hundreds of columns advising readers to find a convenient local wine specialist, get to know him or her, patronize their store, and let them guide your purchase decisions. I agree with you 100%.

PaulG said...

This weekend's Wine Adviser column (written last month, runs today and tomorrow) proves the point: http://seattletimes.com/html/wineadviser/2019017164_pacificpadviser09.html

Michael Teer said...

Saw it. Thanks Paul. Stop by the new shop next time you are in town.

Post a Comment

Your comment is awaiting moderation and will be posted ASAP. Thanks!