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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: FOOD AND WINE PAIRING; a sensory experience

 FOOD AND WINE PAIRING; a sensory experience (John Wiley & Sons,
2008, 322 pages, ISBN 978-0-471-79407-3 soft covers) is by Robert
Harrington, now teaching at the University of Guelph. It claims to be
"the only book that presents food and wine pairing from a culinary and
sensory perspective". By that, I guess the author means that FOOD is
the first consideration, and wine accompanies food's tastes – which is
as it should be. Other such books emphasize the wine first, and go into
long detail about how you don't want food to overpower the wine. Here,
Harrington concentrates on terminology and methodology of sensory
analysis, along with the relationship and reactions between food and
wine components, flavours and textures. He maps the palate with the
taste components of sweet, sour, salt, and bitter in food, plus fats
and proteins. Those comparable sensations in wine follow the terms of
body, acidity, effervescence, tannins and oak. The culinary
perspectives are topmost here: you have the food, now find the wine. He
covers flavour variations in spicing levels, intensity and persistence.
Consideration is also paid to regional wines and regional foods, and to
how and why they pair so well together. Attention is also paid to
tackling cheese textures and desserts, both very important when
assessing wine pairings. For desserts, he has a large section on
Ontario VQA dessert wines. This leads to menu planning decisions. Extra
material here concerns service training for staff and wine list
development. There are samples of real wine lists and tasting notes.
For students, there are exercises, outlines, and a description of key
terms, as well as anecdotal sidebars and forms. An instructor's manual
and companion website complete the set.
Audience and level of use: students, interested consumers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Harrington has considerable mention
of VQA wineries and restaurants such as Toronto's Canoe.
The downside to this book: a bit too technical in place, but this is
great for showing off by sommeliers.
The upside to this book: there are lots of forms for photocopying.
These exercises are useful for consumer groups too.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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