Hey buddy, got a match?

Among the many byways wine can wander into, the one most likely to go on forever is the maze of matching food and wine. Professionals argue fine points, like medieval scholars analyzing the movements and motives of angels, while amateurs just want to know what won’t embarrass them when they have a few people over for supper. This aspect of wine seems like contemporary politics, with an empty middle ground; if only everybody'd lighten up, life would surely improve. Dinner will be served. There will be a beverage. It will be OK. Let a smile be your umbrella, folks.
       Meanwhile, though, the maze goes on. Simon Callow, a good actor and an affable chap, has now begun a radio show on a classical music station. He will, it was announced, “take listeners on a musical wine tour” on Sunday afternoons, “pairing the perfect piece of classical music to accompany a delicious glass of wine.” The first show matched a white Burgundy with Delibes, Mozart, and Debussy. I’d have gone with Beethoven quartets myself, but hey, that’s the way the wine-matching game goes. (I was once—and only once--a guest on a radio wine show, tasting and discussing wine. It was an odd experience, like dropping a pea from the top of the Empire State Building, into the void: How far would it waft? Where would it land? Would it hurt anybody? Would it matter? Who knew?)
       At about the same time, Miguel Torres, an enterprising, charming, thoroughly serious winemaker and also a very nice man, sponsored a seminar in Barcelona on scientific approaches to matching food and wine, especially the new cuisine of “molecular gastronomy,” which we’re all hoping will get a new name soon. Featured speaker was Francois Chartier, who has worked at El Bulli, and written a book analyzing flavor compounds, which he calls “aromatic families,” as a way of finding better matches between wine and food. The concepts will probably not be coming to a neighborhood restaurant near you any time soon—one result was a sushi meant to go with red wine, featuring black olives, pepper, and coffee-flavored wild rice.
       I hope all this turns out all right. While I wait, I’ll be drinking Champagne, playing Cole Porter, and tucking into scallops seared in a little tarragon butter, retrograde and unrepentant.
       And happy.

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