Which came first: the chicken or the Eglise-Clinet? Well, if you're a disciple of author Sid Goldstein--and you will be--you've had that Bordeaux decanted long before you even thought of shopping for those Cacciatore ingredients. And "wine-first" cooking is precisely what Goldstein--vice president and director of marketing communications at Mendocino, California's Fetzer Vineyards--so ably demonstrates in The Wine Lover's Cookbook
, soon to become indispensable to anyone who has ever chosen the wine first and the groceries second. In 100 easy-to-follow-yet-impressive-as-heck recipes, Goldstein shows you how to exquisitely match the tastes and textures of wine varietals to food. In fact, if you want to find specific recipes, you have to look in the back index; the chapters themselves are divided into grape types! Serving a Chardonnay? Chapter 7's Spinach Fettuccine with Sea Bass and Lemongrass-Coconut Cream Sauce is seamless. Pinot Noir? Coffee-and-Spice-Rubbed Lamb with Coffee-Vanilla Sauce shouldn't work; and yet lamb marinated for hours in mint, pepper, red wine, freshly ground coffee beans, and rosemary, then grilled and sauced with a combination of honey, brewed coffee, shallots and vanilla bean--any one of which elements should have bullied a Russian River Pinot--provides a tightly woven hammock on which the wine can luxuriate.
Chapters discuss the grape variety and list "Base Ingredients"--the main medium of the dish (Game Hen and Rabbit are a couple for Sangiovese)--as well as "Bridge Ingredients"--those connectors of food and wine (Plums, Fennel, and Green Peppercorns among those for Syrah). This "wine-first" regimen is not without pitfalls: it's fine to decide that tonight is Riesling or Pinot night, but if you can't find radicchio or pomegranate, you might as well skip a few pages. Yet if you've ever been made to feel immoral by cookbooks that give you the recipe first, then deign to suggest a "perfect" wine pairing beyond your means, let Father Sid absolve you of all your Zins (or Merlots or Viogniers). After all, the Bible talks of wine 650 times; food barely rates a mention. Perhaps if they'd had The Wine Lover's Cookbook in the Garden of Eden, Adam wouldn't have wasted all that time trying to pair ribs and an apple with a Sauvignon Blanc. --Tony Mason
In a simpler time, we knew that red wine was meant for meat and white was to be served with fish. But now, as explained in this handy cookbook and reference tool, all bets are off because so many influences are at play in transforming American cuisine into a global smorgasbord. Using color-coding, select recipes and ample photographs, Goldstein leads readers through food wine and pairing in a systematic fashion. Even as the database format of this book proves Goldstein to be an exacting connoisseur, the variety of these dishes show him to be a multicultural man for all seasonings as well.
Finally, a book that puts wine in its rightful place at the table as a food in itself, and an equal partner to the food on the plate! Rosina Tinari Wilson, Senior Editor, Wine X Magazine