Monday, July 26, 2021

Dan Berger: Wine & Food

 Excluding breakfast, I consider a meal without a glass of wine to be a missed opportunity. I think of wine as an enhancement of food and a simple way to improve almost all victuals.

    Not every wine has to be great. Sometimes, a simple glass of simple wine is just fine. And though making the proper food and wine pairing is fun, it's by no means necessary. 

    In fact, I don't believe in rigid rules when it comes to wine and food pairing. For me, there is one rigid rule I live by: wine with food beats the alternative, which is food without any wine.

    The old food/wine rules were designed with simplicity in mind. Sure, "white wine with fish, red wine with meat" can work, but not always. Like baked halibut with lemon butter. But what about halibut in a dark red-wine reduction sauce seasoned with tarragon and thyme? A medium-weight red would be better.


    Want rules? Let's start with some basics:

     -- Either a complement or a contrast should be considered. A complementing wine should have flavors that are not incompatible with the main dish; a contrasting wine could well be a tart wine with a rich creamy dish.

     -- The dominant flavors in the main dish are usually matched to the wine, so roasted lamb leg with rosemary traditionally would be matched with older red Bordeaux and its slightly gamey or earthy complexity. But the rosemary is in play, so a very ripe, youthful zinfandel could also work.

     -- Beef isn't always prepared the same. A medium pinot noir best complements rare prime rib, but if you're having a rump roast covered in herbs and garlic, a shiraz might be better. The roast's exterior will have a load of flavors including pepper.
     -- Keep in mind the other dishes on the table. When preparing a turkey with sage dressing, herbal wines may do best, such as cabernet or pinot noir. But at Thanksgiving, remember the other dishes typically on the table: cranberry sauce (sweet), yams (sweet) and even raisins in the dressing. 

    Since the sweetness in the dishes will make some reds taste sour, try Beaujolais or zinfandel. Also, consider an Extra Dry sparkling wine, with its slight sweetness.

     -- In doubt? California sparkling wine and quality dry rose wines are all-purpose matches for a wide variety of cuisines. Rose really is an all-purpose wine, especially when one person at the table is eating seafood, another is having steak and others are vegetarians. Grenache and sangiovese are popular grapes making stylish rose wines these days.

     -- With Asian foods, keep in mind the heat (peppers and other spices) and the sweetness (especially if fruit is used in the preparation). If the main dish is either sweet or hot, choose an off-dry wine, preferably with lower alcohol, such as a German riesling.

     -- With salty foods, pick an off-dry wine with flowery character, such as a gewurztraminer.

     -- Chilled dishes usually have less overt flavors, so a delicate wine would work well. Try a pinot gris or pinot blanc from Alsace or from the Alto Adige of Italy.

     -- Don't try to match wine with foods containing noticeable amounts of vinegar, such as salads. For salads with cream dressings, try sauvignon blanc.  

     -- Most soups gain added interest with a tiny splash of a dry or off-dry sherry. And serving sherry alongside soup is an elegant accompaniment.

    Of all the systems pairing wines with foods, I still like my No. 1 rule best: dinner without wine is dreary.

    Wine of the Week: Nonvintage Fre Red Blend, California "Alcohol Removed" ($6): Making any wine without any alcohol is an extremely difficult task, and it is far more difficult to make a red than a white. This zero-alcohol wine is relatively tasty, particularly if it is reasonably well chilled. The aroma is typical of an inexpensive red, and the residual sugar that was intentionally left in the wine helps with the texture that the alcohol would have provided had it been there. Chilling it helps the structural balance, allowing it to work nicely with various foods.

    To find out more about Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmm Hmmmm, nothing like a glass of grape juice and a bolony sammich. Scrummmcuus !

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Kingfish will run similar columns for weed once the legislators allow our state to partake. I may pair a nice indica blunt with some tacos and chips. Delish! In the meantime, let’s get drunk, start some fights and eat some wings.

Anonymous said...

I was drinking to everything the author said, right up until the alcohol free wine. Sacrilege!

Anonymous said...

Wouldn’t alcohol free wine be Welch’s grape juice?

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS