I remember the exact moment I realized I did, in fact, like goat cheese. It’s vivid to me because it was the same moment I realized red wine didn’t have to taste like gym socks.
What I experienced that night of epiphany is called a “pairing”: A lovely and informative hostess laid out a smorgasbord of sweet and savory bites, poured tastes of wine, then encouraged us to try specific foods with each taste. I was not on board from the very start.
Up until this point, my experiences with red wine had all started and ended the same: smelled bad, tasted worse, finished like a weight-lifter’s sweaty feet. I was simply not interested in sampling red wine. Ever again.
But I didn’t count on the peer pressure. And I really wanted to chow down on the food items. So I very reluctantly spread the smallest amount of soft goat cheese on my cracker and took the tiniest sip of red wine. And, voilà! The cheese and wine combined in my mouth with the most astonishing perfection. I actually said, out loud, “I do like goat cheese! And what am I drinking??”
I am now rather well-versed in pairing food with beverages. I’m still not a huge fan of red wine, but I’ve discovered some varieties—a red blend, for instance—I can enjoy with cheese and nuts. I know what goes with a nice, oaky Chardonnay (any seafood or creamy pasta), a crisp sparkling wine (berries, dark chocolate), a frosty Belgian ale (salsa, fried chicken). If I’m not certain of the pairing, I just do an internet search. It’s now that easy.
So the next time you’re in charge of the evening’s beverage or gifted with a bottle of wine that looks suspicious or simply looking for a change, try an interesting food pairing. You might just blurt out your surprise and satisfaction to everyone’s delight.