Sep. 22’s WC 101 – Pairing Wine & Food

Long time, no see…:) After a sabbatical from work at St. Julian Winery due to COVID concerns I’ve gotten back into the swing of things. And that includes teaching St. Julian’s Wine Club 101 courses – always a highlight of working for the winery. πŸ™‚

The theme for September’s course was “Pairing Wine With Food” – for the theme I did a presentation on how certain tastes have an effect upon the wine, focusing on the taste of salt, sour (or acidic), savory and sweet. We also included spicy (as in hot/chili), which while more of a sensation than an actual “taste” in itself also affects how the palate’s perception of the wine. For examples of these tastes I used a small tasting cup of table salt (salty), a wedge of lemon (sour/acid), some chunks of salami (umami), a sugar cookie (sweet) and Flaming Hot Cheetos ™ (spicy). We paired each of these with the following four wines from the Braganini line of St. J wines: the Merlot, Albarino, Late Harvest Vidal Blanc, and the Petite Pearl (the sweet version). The participant were encouraged to record their impressions of the pairings. Not surprisingly, many of them liked the combination of the lemon with the Late Harvest Vidal Blanc, the acidity providing a balance to the Late Harvest’s sweetness, though one WC member found she liked the combination of the dry Albarino with the sugar cookie – an unusual pairing as often sweet foods often make a dry wine like Albarino taste bitter, which was the case for most of the tasters. However the participant said that for her somehow the cookie brought out the fruitiness in the Albarino. There were a few tasters that liked interactions that were unexpected – which was all the more reason why I reminded everyone that when it comes to pairing wine, while there are guidelines, ultimately it is the taster’s preference which matters most. πŸ™‚

(image courtesy of Anthony Comstock at

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