Recently I received an email from Natalie Maclean, author of “Red, White And Drunk All Over” asking if she could send copy of her book for me to review. Since, for me, most wine books are about as exciting a read as trying to plow thru Les Miserables in my high school French class, I responded with a very lukewarm “Ok.”
It sat on my desk for about a month until last week when I experienced one of those no-way can I get back to sleep nights. I was looking for something to read, saw RW&D, and thought it would bore me back to some Zzz’s. Wow- do I stand corrected. That Nat is one funny, cool lady and a superb writer. She’s won barrels of awards, including no less than four James Beard Journalism awards.) As an accredited sommelier, she really knows her subject, but even better, RW&D provides a fascinating, fun and extremely informative read!
Her book was perfectly described as “A Year in Provence goes Sideways to enter Kitchen Confidential” since Natalie shares fascinating wine trips, invaluable tips and colorful stories with us. You’ll love joining her when she goes “undercover” as a sommelier at a five-star French restaurant, or gets the inside scoop on the bad blood between two high-power critics, Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson. And you have to love someone who offers an in-the-shower tutorial on the right way to “spit”.
No time to read a whole book? ( Shame on you.) But if that’s really true, then I’ll take pity on you and pass on another worthwhile tip: Natalie also offers an extremely user-friendly website,devoted to food and wine pairings.
The first pairing tool that really Gets Real! MacLean’s site pairs wines with any dish: meat, pasta, seafood, vegetarian fare, pizza, eggs, cheese and dessert, including Jell-O and fudge, even Champagne with potato chips. You simply choose the food or wine from a drop-down menu to get the pairing suggestions. There are also lots of recipes for those planning a meal.
Among the thousands of pairings offered, here are Natalie’s top 10 fun food and wine matches:
1. Popcorn with Chilean Chardonnay
2. Nachos with California Zinfandel
3. Potato chips with French Champagne
4. Pizza with Italian Chianti
5. Fish and chips with German Riesling
6. Hamburgers with Australian Shiraz
7. Smoked salmon with Canadian or Oregon Pinot Noir
8. Quiche with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
9. Canned brown beans with tawny Port
10. TV dinner steak with French or Washington Cabernet Sauvignon