As I am flying back from France, reflecting upon the awesome past two weeks of touring some of world’s most famous wine regions, a lot of thoughts are bubbling up in my brain and waiting to be digested and poured onto the e-sheet. But one thought in particular is coming into focus, as my wife Rona is elbowing me from the seat to my left, asking how much I've missed Chinese food.
I can’t help but think that too much of a good thing is not necessarily such a good thing after all. Hm? Well, the wines were great, the winery visits and meetings with the owners and winemakers were exciting and instructive, but in the end of the day after drinking a ton of world-class Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux, some interesting Languedocs, and very trendy Chateaneuf-du-Pape’s (aka CdP's), frankly I can think of nothing better than to sip Burgundy or Riesling – something lighter and with more subtlety. And after eating gastronomic delights from some of France’s coveted restaurants and brasseries that we had been dying to eat at, all my wife can think about now is spicy Asian food. I am convinced now more than ever that when it comes to food and wine, variety is indeed the proverbial spice of life.
No matter how great your favorite wine is, you can only have so much of it. No matter how much you might enjoy a particular ingredient, be that foie gras or black truffles, too much of it will soon ruin your appetite. After drinking powerhouse wines for two weeks, I perhaps realize why so many long-time wine aficionados gravitate towards burgundies, rieslings, and loires, though in no way does it lower my respect for the stronger wines of Bordeaux and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, it just limits their use in my drinking repertoire.
In my opinion, bigger wines are harder to pair with food, as they tend to overpower all but strongest flavors. Particularly big reds tend to require big meats. The exception applies to nicely aged reds – which soften over time, losing the fruit explosion and the overpowering tannin, and becoming a nicer accompaniment to a more diverse range of cuisines. But waiting for a Bordeaux or a CdP to relax for 10-20 years is an excruciating (and an expensive) proposition, though often an extremely satisfying one.