Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

50 Great Cookbooks at Thomas Ford – Week 30

What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea – Even Water – Based on Expert Advice from Americas Best Sommeliers by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (641.22 DOR)

The title is a mouthful, but it tells you exactly what this excellent reference book is about. I started using What to Drink with What You Eat regularly (and ended up buying a copy) a few years ago when my husband and I found ourselves choosing more wines but not knowing how to decide.

We are not connoisseurs – far from it! For years we drank one kind of wine with almost everything, a reduced calorie jug wine. Then we couldn’t find it any more. Suddenly we needed to start buying “real” wine. We tried random reds and whites (never expensive – remember, we were used to diluted jug wine). Sometimes we found a bottle that tasted especially good with our dinner. Then we would drink the same thing at another meal, and it would taste awful. Clearly we needed some guidance.

That’s when I discovered What to Drink with What You Eat at the library. I found that, whatever we were having for dinner, I could look it up in the book’s detailed alphabetical list, and it would tell me the best possible beverage matches as well as others that would taste nearly as good, and perhaps a few to avoid. We went from just choosing between red and white, to choosing Pinot Noir versus Shiraz, or Sauvignon Blanc versus Chardonnay. And it really did make a difference in our enjoyment!

To give an example of how the book is set up, if I look up “Chicken,” I can see that generally Chardonnay or Pinot Noir are good choices. If I narrow it down to “Fried” chicken, Sauvignon Blanc is recommended, and Red Burgundy is recommended for “Coq Au Vin.” For “Tikka Masala” (Indian-style butter chicken), beer, especially wheat beer, is recommended as well as several wines, both red and white. There is a hierarchy of how well a beverage will go with a particular dish, the better choices indicated by the typeface in bold or all caps, with an asterisk for the best possible pairings.

Another major section of the book is a list according to beverage. So, for exampe, if someone leaves you a six-pack of stout, you will get maximum enjoyment if you drink it with oysters, and it also goes well with dark chocolate desserts. A Spanish Rioja wine will be heavenly with lamb, and so forth.

Other sections of the book discuss general rules of food pairings, what wines to keep on hand, and how to select and serve beverages, including not only wine, but beer, water, tea and coffee. The final section gives favorite menu pairings from the experts.

With this book by your side, you will never feel inept about choosing a wine or other beverage! – Review by Nancy

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This entry was posted on July 29, 2012 by in 50 Great Cookbooks, Book Review, Cooking, Non-Fiction.
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