Walking into a wine store without knowing what I want can be as bad as walking into Blockbuster without knowing what I want. It’s always the same: After forty five minutes of doing isle laps, I pick a bottle with a good looking label and pray I haven’t chosen the wine equivalent of Leprechaun 4: In the Hood. Then, after the store clerk tells me my wine will only pair with Kazakhstani lutefisk I get the sinking feeling that drinking this wine with the pizza I had planned for tonight would be the pairing equivalent of showing the kids Reservoir Dogs.
In the past I’ve used “red wine with beef, white wine with chicken and fish” as my pairing compass but I can’t continue to attempt brain surgery with something as crude as a wrench. A new tool is needed to help with this challenging dilemma. I need something more complex with more options to address the subtleties of hundreds of spices and grape varietals.
Natalie MacLean, wine critic and sommelier, has the answer: The tool is called “Food & Wine Matcher” and is on her site here. With two or three clicks of the mouse I can now narrow my choices to a short list of wines that go with my dish. Tonight, for example, I’ll click on “Pizza” and a list of options appears. From those options, I then click on “Combination” and behold, there’s my short list of wines to drink with my combination pizza. For something so robust, the tool is very simple. The matcher will also go the other way where I can start with the wine and after two or three clicks have my short list of dishes to serve with it.
At this time Natalie does not have a movie/wine pairing feature on her matcher. I’m sure having one would have spared me from Earnest Goes to Camp. However, by using the matcher I did learn that this week’s recommendation is extremely food friendly.
Hook & Ladder 2008, Chardonnay ($17.99): This wine reminds me of a high school kid that has their act together: It’s youthful, fresh, crisp, and has a Sprite-like lemon-lime taste but at the same time it uses a refined amount of light oak to lend it a degree of sophistication.