Wine Pairing, i

We sometimes fixate on the idea of perfect pairings: two ounces that are the only acceptable match for a single forkful of ingredients.  

But ‘what do I drink?’ is a question with no single correct answer. And it’s as much about the moment as it is the food. 

Here’s what that calculus looked like for me, one day in July: 

It’s 90-ish degrees, I’m melting into the patio and about to order melons wrapped in cured meat with little diced peppers, and whatever I’m drinking, it’s going to be cold. 

I’m alone and it’s 3 in the afternoon, so alcohol percentage is a real consideration. I’ll still think about ordering a bottle because it’s more fun, and I can always share with the staff. I’m at one of the best wine restaurants in the country, so I might as well drink something interesting as long as I’m here. 

What does ‘interesting’ mean? I think about specificity, and the quality of the work, and the question of time: 

Say you have a fermentation from plants that are grown without chemicals and farmed like a garden, some of them a couple of hundred years old. Say this thing was bottled after a complicated multi-stage process that means it’s fizzy and aged intentionally, so now it’s four years old, speaking both from the past and about what’s happened to it since. 

That’s Eric Bordelet’s 2017 “Argelette.”  

Because it’s cider, it’s 6% or so alcohol and the entire bottle is basically the price of two glasses of wine. (Respect cider!)  

There’s some stuff that’s basically muscle memory at this point in terms of decision-making that is still fun to pay attention to while I drink, like how the oxidation and leesiness from that bottle age ping off the Marcona almonds, how the apple-y ness of apples communicates sweetness whether or not there’s sugar and tamps down the heat from the long hots. I’m a sweet-and-savory person (hence the food order) and if you think about it you could just wrap this bottle in the prosciutto and achieve the same effect. 

It took a lot more time to write this than it did to make up my mind about drinking Bordelet on a patio. But sometimes it’s worth spelling things out.

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