1) It's completely worthless to the reader for practical advice.
2) In four pages of copy, only three wines are mentioned, costing $175, $70 and $90 retail.
3) The article emphasizes failure, i.e., "None of the three had the balance or grace that were needed." So buddy -- pick other wines! Maybe one that costs $20?
4) It's a product placement for Del Frisco's Restaurant Group, which is the only steakhouse mentioned in all four pages. Explain to me again why the FTC wants bloggers to divulge freebies, but not magazines.
This article is an extreme example of what's wrong with many food-and-wine pairing articles: not enough care about the reader. Instead, as with this article, many writers just want to brag about their own experience.
Moreover, they make it seem as if there's only one wine in the world that can possibly work with a dish, and that other wines are simply failures.
I don't want to go to the other extreme. Wine pairing matters, and you can easily prove it to yourself with some goat cheese, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. One wine will taste good with the goat cheese; the other will not. (Hint: if you can only afford one, get SB).
But that is a carefully chosen example of a food with an extreme taste-texture combination that isn't friendly to many wines. Most foods are not like this.
Steak is certainly not like this. Go to Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida, home of perhaps America's best wine list, and chat up one of the sommeliers. The last time I was there, I was in an aged Cab mood, but they convinced me to have Burgundy instead and the wines were lovely. Our neighbors were drinking Petite Sirah; others in the room had a Merlot. I'd have a hard time saying any of those is a lousy match. (Maybe that's why I'm not at Wine Spectator.)
My favorite local takeout place is Good Frikkin' Chicken, which makes a superb rotisserie chicken with Middle Eastern spices. Since I eat this relatively often, I have had great matches for it with Chardonnay, Viognier, sparkling wine, sake, Pinot Noir, Grenache, rose, cider, Chateauneuf du Pape, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and other alcoholic beverages I'm probably forgetting. Maybe my all-time favorite pairing with it is slightly toasty, non-malolactic Chardonnay with decent acidity. But as you can see, I don't start weeping if I don't have such a bottle chilled.
Here's the thing: People reading about wine and food pairing are, generally, anxious. Maybe they're having a dinner party and they want it to go perfectly. Maybe they are just learning about wine.
It's no service to these readers to increase their anxieties. People writing about wine and food matches should tell us what works, in general terms -- not like Wine Spectator claiming that only a specific $175 wine goes with filet mignon. Are Del Frisco's steaks really that unforgiving?
Writers should also tell us what doesn't work. Sweet foods and dry wines, that's troublesome. Salty foods and high-alcohol wines is another toughie. There, that's more useful advice in two short sentences than Wine Spectator doled out in four product-placed pages.
Too often, I read some star-struck writer who got a free meal somewhere say, "The single-vineyard Gewurztraminer (only 24 cases made) with the river fish flown in from Japan in a sauce of wild-picked chanterelles was divine!" As if that's going to help someone who's planning to cook trout and wonders what bottle at BevMo will go with it (hint: try a floral and/or fruity white).
This article goes down a similar route: the food expert showing off. Here's a paragraph:
Many things influence beef flavor, including breed, feed, cut, marbling and aging method. Always check a steak's marbling, the fat within the muscle of the meat; more fat tends to mean the meat is more tender, flavorful and juicy. Another consideration is whether the steak is wet-aged or dry-aged. Wet-aged meat is put in vacuum-sealed plastic bags and aged in its own juices. Dry-aged meat is exposed to air for weeks, while enzymes in the beef break down the muscle fibers, tenderizing the meat and adding distinctive mineral and game flavors. The meat loses about 20 percent of its weight in the process, contributing to the higher cost of dry-aged steak.That would be really helpful if the writer would tell us what kind of wine goes well with dry-aged steak -- but he doesn't. Instead, all it does is make me worry that if I don't know what the cow was fed, I can't possibly choose the right wine.
Articles like this are a disservice to wine and food lovers. Thank you for reading my rant.