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Julius Orth
June 2, 2022 | Julius Orth

Food & Wine... yes.. no, but yes of course only sometimes maybe but always either or.

Food & Wine, the truth is yes to both.

Much is made of majestic pairings, where food & wine share a stage and deliver a performance for the ages.  When you get it right the results can be sublime.  The truth is that food and wine pairings are rarely a complete failure.  For food & wine to complement each other there are so many variables that come into play, yet ultimately the success will be in the palate of the consumer.

Let's take a look at this from different perspectives.  There are great wines, and there are great meals.  In an ideal world you should derive great satisfaction from both.  When the stars align there can be spectacular chemistry between the two that transcends either and elevates the experience to a new level.  But, and this is purely an expression of personal preference, the journey should start with ones willingness to enjoy either without the support of the other.

When enjoying wine, it is a reasonable expectation that the wine will deliver a pleasurable experience without any supporting cast.  Every wine that you drink should be pleasing as a standalone experience.  Find a way to enjoy a glass of wine on its own, and in my humble opinion if you are unable to enjoy it on its own then the wine is incomplete.  Now you have the foundation upon which to enhance that experience.  The same can be said of food.  Not every meal demands wine to make it better (breakfast is a good example).  

Now that we have established this fundamental expectation, let's look a little deeper.  What if your favorite food and favorite wine do not necessarily go together?  For some this creates an unnecessary dilemma with easy solutions.  First, if you have not discovered this yet, you can drink your favorite Sweet Vermouth on the rocks as an aperitif, and then when you are done you can sit down to a magnificent feast of dim sum.  In most instances, these do not necessarily complement each other but you have satisfied your personal preferences by enjoying them separately.

Now let us draw the shared experience a little closer.  You are really craving a bright and refreshing Gruner Veltliner, but the "Steak Diane" on the menu just looks soooooo good.  So?  Order both!  These are not what one would consider a perfect food & wine pairing but who cares.  Take a bite of the Steak Diane and savor the tender filet mignon bathed in a delectable mushroom, cream dijon mustard and cognac sauce that simply tantalizes the taste buds.  Enjoy the moment.  Then take a sip of the brisk, bright cool and refreshing Gruner Veltliner.  The mouthwatering soft acidity tingles across the palate, clears all other flavors from its path, and leaves your palate brighter.  Now another bite of food promises the same smile inducing pleasure that the first bite did. 

Do not rush, do not force these two together, savor each for its own glorious merits.  You have just discovered the art of enjoying two things at the same time!  They may not necessarily enhance each other, but they clearly define two pleasurable experiences.

Now the holy grail.  There is something quite exquisite when the food and wine experience transcends the sum of its parts, where each element elevates the other in turn until you are unable to discern which makes the other better.  This is not a science, it is not an art, it is an experience.

Start with the Ektimo 2019 Estate "Mount Eden Clone" Pinot Noir which is a more robust take on Pinot Noir, lithe and luscious yet with more body and substance, focused and precise.  It rewards the more sophisticated palate with a veritable feast for the senses that will tantalize your palate and capture your imagination.  Deeper in color, richer in aroma and more concentrated on the palate, Crimson Passion Cherry, pomegranate and Thundercloud Plum flecked with savory notes and supple tannins as smooth as satin sheets.  The veritable kaleidoscope of flavors will glide across your palate like the viennese waltz that doesn't want to end.

Now add a savory "Wild Mushroom Risotto".  Place the two next to each other and allow the aromas to intermingle, then raise the glass and allow the aroma of the wine to dominate.  They are connected.  The interplay teases the senses, each beckoning to be sampled first. 

The wine wins.  As the complex array of flavors caresses your plalate it invigorates your tastebuds and the brisk elements become animated in pleasing fashion.  The savory perfume of the gourmet dish draws you in.  At first bite the forest is embraces in a light mist with tones of chanterelle, porcini, morel & truffle.  The flavors bring forth an echo of sweet oak, with herbal tones that flicker back and forth.  Another sip of the wine and the forest flickers with light as the berry notes now tickle the richer tones to life.  With each successive sip and bite, the complex interplay resonates and harmonizes until the two create a third distinct and pleasing effect that joins the dance.

Enjoy the wine, enjoy the food, enjoy the food & wine, but above all enjoy!


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