Eight years ago I created the Curious Palate - an educational wine tasting series that is all about exploring different styles, varieties, profiles and nuance…and how it all works with food. More often than not, the pairings are right on and the food and wine just sing! Occasionally the pairings are…meh…and don’t enhance either the wine or the food. And certainly, there are moments when the flavors or textures or chemistry just don’t work! Usually, those moments are found in my own kitchen rather than in a crowd, but when food pairings go awry, I find delight in all that gloriously gross failure! It keeps the experience real and approachable; two words that don’t often pop up in the wine industry.
When exploring pairings in Curious Palate tasting events, I don’t mind if the food pairing is a bit of a miss because we can ALWAYS learn from it and we are reminded that this shared experience is ultimately different for each palate. It makes me thankful for the moment and the people willing to share it with me.
Last week, we compared two different Italian grapes: Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. For the Sangiovese, I presented bites with a fresh vegetal focus. For the Nebbiolo, I presented bites with a distinctively earthy focus. The class favorite was a Nebbiolo from Langhe paired with a Fig/Goat Cheese/Pancetta/Shallot Crostini…all that earth worked so well! And for those who were willing to explore, we found that when the same crostini was paired with the Sangiovese from Chianti, that pairing just didn’t play well. And you know what? That is such good information to have and despite what we were taught as children, there is no shame in playing with our food! Be open. Be curious. Live a lil’ dangerously and allow yourself to explore what works for you and your distinctive palate!