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Tuesday, April 30, 2013


PAIRING FOOD & WINE FOR DUMMIES (John Wiley & Sons, 2013, 382 pages, ISBN 978-1-118-39957-6, $22.99 US soft covers) is by John Szabo, Canada's first Master Sommelier (2004). He is now a wine consultant to restaurant and a free-lance wine writer (e.g. Here he has done an excellent job of dialing down the process of food and wine pairing, and that is a good thing since many people still to seem to follow the older rigid rules. Knowing the best wines to pair with food (and vice versa) is the height of the modern art of social food graces. Of course, there are many apps for this matching: just key in your wine or your food and back come some choices. But Szabo tries to explain the rationales, and hopefully reduce your dependence on Internet resources. When dining out, you can only go to the bathroom or lobby just so many times when you want to check your apps/email/texts/tweets. He proposes strategies for food low and high (burgers, bbq, Asiatic, fusion, haute cuisines). Along the way he delves into using your own senses and tastes to develop likes and dislikes with your mouthfeel. Styles of wine and food are discussed, restaurant sommelier advice is consumed, and finding a restaurant that knows what it is doing with wines – all are important here. At the end, he goes into how to put on a wine and food party, beyond the cheese and snacks, to figure out which kinds of wine to served, how much wine, and with which foods.

Audience and level of use: beginners, those without a phone app.

Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: his top ten food-friendly wines include unoaked chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc, champagne, pinot noir, gamay, and valpolicella.

The downside to this book: wine markups in restaurants are not discussed.

The upside to this book: useful enough for both Canada and the US.

Quality/Price Rating: 92.

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