February 19, 2013

Pairing of Great Food and Good Wines a Work in Progress, Experts Say

NEW YORK — The coming of age for great kosher food and superb wines seems to be developing on separate streams. While upscale foods is no longer an anomaly and kosher diners are learning more about great kosher wines every day, the marriage of the two is still a ways off, according to the experts. The purpose of the now annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience of 2013 in Chelsea Piers sponsored by the Kedem Group is an attempt by the company to pair the two in one setting. 

Consistent with the emerging theme of the adventurous Orthodox palate, manufacturers are seeing increased demand for fine kosher wines. But many consumers are left confused when it comes to pairing the right wine with the right food. Chef Jeff Nathan of Abigael’s in Manhattan offers a guide for the budding connoisseur. “First off,” says Chef Nathan, “stop being intimidated by huge selections and hard-to-pronounce wines. When it comes to wine, the important thing is to do what you enjoy, not what others dictate.” That being said, there are some basic rules to follow. The secret of wine pairing is simple — choose wines that compliment the dish, not overpower it.

For meats such as fish and poultry, choose a light, white wine like chardonnay. If the dish contains any citrus, such as lemon juice, then a sauvignon blanc compliments well. If you do want a red wine with fish or poultry, go with a light pinot noir or merlot. For heavier dishes such as brisket (or even cholent!), rich red wines compliment best. Chef Nathan suggests a bold cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel. 

Sticking to these rules of thumb should eliminate most of the confusion next time you purchase wine, either as a gift or for your own enjoyment. Chef Nathan is enthusiastic about this growing interest, emphasizing how much it is helping wine manufacturers as well as restaurant owners like himself. “Manufacturers such as Barron-Herzog are really raising the bar for fine kosher wines, something that would never happen if there wasn’t such a strong demand. Their wines are scoring in the 90’s in the Wine Spectator- something you never would have thought a kosher wine would accomplish!” 

He continues, “In addition to providing growth for manufacturers, restaurant owners like myself are also seeing a large benefit. When my customers are educated and understand the finer points of dining, I am motivated to create even better dishes, since I know my efforts will be appreciated. ”