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By Michael "Ty, the Wine Guy" Taiani

This may sound like a question asked during your last job interview, right? But to paraphrase Jimi Hendrix, I ask you, Have you ever been experienced? If you dont know what Im referring to, its the gastronomical art and science of matching food and wine, aka pairing. Basically the concept is to combine those special elements of food, wine, ambiance, etc., together in the right combination with the right balance. These Dynamics added together equals the Experience! Scientifically, underlying the experience is the communication between the brains senses and your palate. And, the brain, in conjunction with the palate, fully records the experience for later recollection, hence creating an experience youll never forget.

Though considered a somewhat new phenomenon, the concept of pairing dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. For example: the Etruscans of Tuscany, who loved all of lifes amenities and who best expressed them at the dinner table. Living in the Garden of Italy, they had it all fresh game and poultry, produce, grains, olives, and of course, indigenous, wine-producing grape varietals. The incredible synergy of those wines produced, paired with those Tuscan foods, still exists today. This is what Im going to call Dynamic #1: Pair regional foods and wines!

During my auspicious apprenticeship at a New York City wine shop years ago, I was fortunate to have learned the dynamics of pairing from masters at the forefront of the matching game. They included Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, and TV chef David Rosengarten. I also had the pleasure to patron the very best NYC restaurants and sample gourmet dishes by many reknowned chefs, including Michael Lomonaco (Windows on the World), Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin), Rocco DiSpirito (Union Pacific), and Charlie Palmer (Aureole).

Dynamic #2: Match quality levels. Today, whenever my wife and I entertain guests in our Hudson Valley home, I enjoy doing nearly all of the culinary tasks. As the house-chef, I use only the finest hand-selected ingredients available in our local markets, mostly, if not completely, certified organic. There is absolutely no scrimping here, including the wines poured. Question: Would you serve caviar with White Zinfandel? Certainly not.

Heres just a taste of other pairing dynamics to consider when creating your own experience. Fortunately for us, the Hudson Valley has a wealth of food, restaurants and wine that fit the bill.

Dynamic #3: Match food flavors to wine flavors/nuances. For example, pair BBQ ribs with a Hudson Valley Baco Noir, or a slice of a peach tart with Brotherhoods Carpe Diem Moscato.

Dynamic #4: Choose a cuisine theme and run with it. Italian, French, Spanish, Asian? If youre in need of ideas, hit the internet or a local bookstore where there are literally thousands of regional or ethnic recipes available and ideas for wine pairings.

Dynamic #5: Research restaurants. Patron restaurants that have received a certain level of acclaim in the media and/or a strong Zagat rating for reputable cuisine, wine selections, service, and ambiance, etc. Youre almost guaranteed to have a good experience at these rated restaurants.


Michael Taiani Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), aka Ty the Wine Guy, is a food and wine consultant and marketer. Assisting people with food and wine is his passion.

Hudson Valley Wine magazine Summer 2014 issue

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