Thursday 7 April 2016

Utterly Futile: Wine Pairing

So I open the freesheet that now comes with every train ride, and what do you know but some guy called Amit Sharma (not the cricketer) has written a piece in which he pairs wines with classic rock and jazz albums. Nevermind, by Nirvana, gets a Clare Valley Riesling; Led Zeppelin IV, a Fattoria di Basciano I Pini; Sgt. Pepper, a South African Chardonnay; Kind of Blue a Ribera del Duero (although the Oddbins website actually recommends Bob Marley as the background music for this particular wine, whereas Sharma teams Bob with an Australian Dolcetto/Lagrein mix. Who'd have thought?). 

Given that wine pairing of any sort is such a barren and footling activity, you might just as well go nuts and pair up things that make no sense at all, I mean, classic Grunge and Riesling, Michael Jackson and Beaune, what's the harm? We've certainly mixed our media - PK with his groundbreaking wine in a bath; me, with my equally urgent and relevant TV + wine meditation. Anything, I think it's fair to say, is better than the thickwit banalities of conventional food and wine pairings.

Nor are we alone. Matthew Latkiewicz, on the excellent McSweeney's site, writes about Wine & Playing Pool, noting on the way that 'If you're spending much time on the food pairing, you aren't spending enough time not being a douchebag'; while 'Wine is, you'll excuse the phrase, kind of a pussy drink'; and 'I actually worry that wine has made me sort of dumb.' Mainly, he argues that wine plus the game of pool is a bad pairing, rather than a desirable one. But that's good to know, too.

Greg Gonzalez, in his book Playing With Wine, discusses such wine-pairable activities as yoga, burying a dead goldfish (Riesling, again), dealing with an IRS audit, and painting ('If you are painting a room then opt for a nicely chilled Pinot Grigio. It can refresh you and can also be used to clean the brushes'). similarly goes for a wine and paint match, claiming that 'Here in Omaha there are a few places whose business is to provide you wine and art supplies for an awesome night out.' Such as? Corky Canvas, 'Where you're sure to uncork your creativity!'; or Pinot's Palette ('Corporate events and house parties'); both looking like a ton of fun, both making that leap from mere boozing to out-and-out creative self-actualisation, both in Omaha - the geographical dead centre of the United States and home of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

Best of the bunch? Could just be Wine and Sex: The Ultimate Pairing?, from the Vinography site. 'The best combo I know of,' writes blogger Alder Yarrow, 'is a bottle of something good and some skin-to-skin contact'. Moreover, 'I'm firmly in the wine before sex category, though I've never complained about a well chilled glass of Champagne afterwards'. But beware: 'As with any wine match, I think it's important to get the proportions correct, but this may be more important with wine and sex than with other pairings. Too little and you might as well not have had any. Too much and things can get sloppy.' I love this guy.

And since we've got this far, why stop? Wine & writing is an obvious pairing (I'm thinking William Faulkner, Malcolm Lowry, Dorothy Parker, although just about anyone would do short of Jane Austen, although, actually, she quite liked a glass). Then there's wine & music (Keith Richards, Dean Martin, same as writers); wine & motor racing (Mike Hawthorn); wine & conjuring (Tommy Cooper); wine & American Football (Joe Namath); wine & Association Football (George Best); wine & physics (Sir William Rowan Hamilton); wine & politics (Pitt the Younger, Herbert Asquith, Ted Kennedy); wine & despotism (Caligula); wine & the prosecution of a World War (Winston Churchill). There is in fact nothing that wine cannot accompany, not excluding cheeseburgers, porridge, playing the piano, gefilte fish, surgery and piloting an aircraft, although these last two normally work better in an alcohol-free environment. Wine goes with things. That's all there is to be said on the matter. Now let us never speak of it again.


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