This is a fantastic guide to pairing beverages with food, and covers a wide assortment of wines. It's a great tool for choosing wines for your dinner parties or for bringing to someone else's.
The only reason I don't give this book 5 stars is because of Chapters 5 and 6. Both have long reference listings of what to pair with what, and the items can be daunting to wade through. This makes it difficult to quickly look something up, and could benefit from more of a dictionary-style organization.
Was this review helpful to you?
This book allows you chose the apppropriate wine that fuses with food you want to eat. The pairing of wine with food enhances the flavors in your palate. It is a guide in which gourmet goodness can be brought out.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Best of breedJune 28 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I may run out of superlatives in the course of this review, so I'm just warning you now. What to Drink with What You Eat is absolutely the most spectacular book ever written about pairing food with wine. It will turn you instantly into a world-class sommelier, confidently able to pair virtually any cuisine with a compatible choice. What's more, the recommendations extend far beyond wine to include beer, sake, spirits coffee, tea and different types of water, so even a teetotaler can derive some value. There isn't a food- or wine-lover on the planet who wouldn't benefit from having the book always on hand as a resource.
The secret sauce here is that the authors, who have great credentials themselves, have also enlisted the input of dozens of top sommeliers and other authorities to create an uber-reference, one that gains considerably from its generous tendency to be more rather than less inclusive in offering up suggestions. Think of the principle of "the wisdom of crowds," but here the crowd are all experts and have the chops to back up their opinions. The list of foods, cuisines and beverages that are explored is truly encyclopedic, so odds are pretty good whatever you want advice on will be covered. For example, speaking of secret sauce, you'll even get suggested pairings with a Big Mac.
The crowning glories of the book are chapters 5 and 6, which really should be turned into a searchable database online and made available via PDA. These chapters are mirror images, one that starts with the beverage and suggests foods, and the other that starts with the food and matches the drinks. I'm telling it to you straight: if you've ever had a moment's hesitation about what to bring to a dinner party or just flat out what might go best with your frozen pizza, the answer is at hand. Wanna build the meal around a special bottle of wine? No problem. In fact, I'm not sure this book isn't subversive in the sense that it does such a great job of simplifying a complicated subject and making it accessible that it renders real-life sommeliers unnecessary.
Of course, that's a ridiculous notion; I'm just stating it for effect. You still need a sommelier to put together a wine list, add a personal perspective, precisely match the cuisine of a restaurant to its wines and gauge the "readiness" of any particular client to explore new territory. But if you live in New Jersey, where the only advantage of archaic, Prohibition-based liquor laws is the plethora of BYO restaurants and thus there are very few sommeliers period, this book is like manna from heaven.
I don't mean to imply that What to Eat is prescriptive to the point where you aren't allowed to express yourself and exercise free will. Quite the contrary. The book does a splendid job in the first few chapters of breaking down various pairing conventions developed over the past 20 years (plus of course the most classic matches) and providing guidelines that anyone can build on, and the authors encourage imagination and experimentation.
Let's go with a real life example, my first since I bought the book, and quite an "acid" test at that. I was asked by a hostess to suggest something that might go with roasted sea bass served with a Mediterranean ragout of red peppers, tomatoes, olives, and capers. My first instinct when approaching anything Mediterranean is to go with the "territory," which means for me clinging to the coastline from Provence to Sicily. Here I would have gravitated toward a white because a tannic red wouldn't go anyway and it's summer now and a chill is definitely welcome. Besides, I'm not sophisticated enough to figure out what to do with capers to begin with, so why not let a thousand years of local experience do the hard work for me? Then, I turned to chapter 5 and looked up sea bass. There were 16 suggestions, but nothing related to a Mediterranean ragout, which would clearly provide the dominant flavors to the dish. So with a little trepidation (are they going to whiff on my first challenge?), I looked for "Mediterranean" and sure enough found the following entry: "Mediterranean Cuisine (eg anchovies, olives, peppers, etc) Champagne, rose; Chateauneuf-du-pape, white; Pinot blanc; red wine, esp. tart Old World; rose; verdicchio, esp with onion-based dishes." Not feeling wholly comfortable yet, I cross-referenced the pesky caper and found: "Beaujolais, high acid; beer; Muscadet; Pinot Grigio/ Pinot gris, esp. dry; Pinot Noir, esp from Russian River Valley." That's enough breadth for anyone to find an appealing option.
The genius of the book is the exhaustive number of dishes and international cuisines covered. I'm sure there are some things you can eat that aren't paired here, but I'm not sure why you would want to! Also, while it wasn't true for my sea bass, many if not most of the listings actually go a step further and provide recommendations specific to the actual method of preparation. It's not just one size fits all. Pasta with artichokes? Check. Pasta with sardines? Check. You get the idea.
I haven't been this excited about a wine book in a couple of years, maybe since reading Andrew Jefford's The New France The New France: A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine (Mitchell Beazley Wine Guides). If you have even a passing interest in drinking wine with your meals you'd be crazy not to buy this book. It has the potential to enrich every dinner (and the occasional lunch/brunch/breakfast?/snack) you eat for the rest of your life, and if that isn't enough hyperbole, I don't know what is.
283 of 324 people found the following review helpful
The Best Food/Beverage Guidebook? That Depends . . .May 31 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
(3 1/2 stars)
After reading the slew of five-star reviews for this volume, today I drove to Barnes & Noble fully ready to purchase it. After spending a fair amount of time in the aisle surveying its contents, I ended up not getting it, and thought I would explain why not for the sake of those Amazon readers whose considerations might be similar to my own.
I think the issues of relevance are 'who you are' and what you're looking for in a book like this. I certainly understand why great wine aficionados (presumably with money and time), critics, sommeliers, restaurateurs and the like would desire and benefit from a work of such sophistication and scope. But for the hobbyist (like myself), it was just too much. A little 'highbrow' for me -- and I suspect I'm not alone. I didn't find it nearly as accessible as, for example, Karen MacNeil's Wine, Food, and Friends (which I bought). MacNeil's book has a seasonal presentation, and, while evidencing an expert's range of knowledge, seeks not to lose sight of practical concerns (such as $$). In a nutshell, What To Drink . . . has a more encyclopedic approach (and does include beverages beyond wine), while MacNeil's is user-friendly and more what I was looking for. I wish it were possible to buy chapters 5 & 6 of Dornenburg & Page's book separately, because they comprise a tremendous resource for ongoing reference. The one surprise regarding Dornenburg & Page was that in a product of such erudition, it lacked an index.
So, bearing in mind the two questions I started with, I hope some of these thoughts will be helpful in informing your purchasing decision.
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
A Sommelier says: "Buy this book!"Sept. 20 2006
Darrin P. Siegfried
- Published on Amazon.com
Wine lovers, from the casual sippers to professional Sommeliers, will find solid, clear advice here, in a well organized format. I worked for many years as a Sommelier and served as Education Director for the Sommelier Society of America, and I can say that no one had done as good a job of making it easy for you to choose a wine that will not only "match" with your meal, but will make your dining (and drinking) experience more enjoyable. This book is bound to become one of the indispensible food and wine books that I keep at hand: a classic in the making. I cannot recommend this book more highly.
44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
From http://www.AWineStory.com Publisher Marisa D'VariApril 8 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Are you curious about what wine to order with your cheesecake? Intimidated by five-hundred page wine list at a top restaurant? Downright scared when the sommelier comes charging toward your table?
Relax. Authors Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page have created a resource that helps even the `average Joe or Jane' understand the principles of wine and food pairing. They take the conventional, canned, old-school advice of "red wine with meat, white wine with fish" to an entirely new level, based on insights learned from their previous books on cuisine, as well as interviews with America's top, cutting-edge sommeliers.
In many ways, the format of What to Drink with What You Eat resembles a substantial wine/food pairing encyclopedia specifically designed to be quickly skimmed before heading off to a restaurant or purchasing wine for a dinner party. For example, let's say you are entertaining clients at a steakhouse, and want to sound intelligent about wine. You know red wine typically goes with red meat, but which red? Old world or new? And what are the virtues of each? By spending just five minutes with this book (and perhaps jotting down some notes) you will be able to help your guests order a Shiraz, Barbaresco, Barolo, or good old Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon based on the elements of the sauce and cut of meat they choose.
In a similar fashion, let's say you want to dazzle your friends and show off your new kitchen with a fabulous dinner party. Spend a few moments with this book and you will be able to pair every element of your menu with an exciting, unusual wine. No need to consult a professional wine expert, as you have this knowledge at your fingertips.
Sommeliers interviewed for this book are mostly young and more free-thinking than sommeliers of years past. They are enthusiastic about wine, regardless of it's an exciting, new world find of exceptional value, or a fine-aged Bordeaux worth hundreds of dollars. As a group, they see their mission as helping you find a good wine to accessorize your meal within your price range. And the individual quotes from sommeliers are what makes this book so fresh and appealing.
For example, Steve Beckta of Beckta Dining & Wine in Ottawa believes that as a sommelier, it is almost more important to match a wine to a person than to match the wine to the food. Curious thought! "The most important part of being a sommelier is not your ability to taste, but your ability to empathize with the person who is in front of you," he explains in the book.
How very true. In one instance, Beckta recalls three `big businessmen' sitting at a table. One wants lamb, one wants halibut, and the other guy wants scallops. They tell him they want the "perfect" wine that matches all three, dissimilar dishes. By carefully listening to the subtext of what they are telling him, Beckta realizes they are after a wine that fits into their comfort zone, not necessarily the best match. To him, that means a "big red" from Australia and as it turns out, the businessmen love it.
Sommelier Alpana Singh, formerly of Everest in Chicago (now with the Lettuce Entertainment Group) agrees that comfort is important. She likes to serve California wines on big holidays like New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, because people who dine out only a few `special nights' a year want something they can recognize and appreciate.
If you entertain or dine out frequently, What To Drink with What You Eat is a dynamic desktop resource and wine and food pairing primer that will stimulate you to learn more about wine by further reading or classes. If you like oaky Chardonnay, for example, this book will also motivate you to try unoaked Chardonnay wines and realize the difference, especially when paired with food. Yet what works best about this book is the way you can take advantage of the authors' extensive research and with just a few minutes of skimming, come across as a credible wine expert in front of clients, colleagues, family and friends.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Extremely sloppy treatment of beverages other than wineJan. 31 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
I'll leave the book's treatment of wine to other reviewers but the treatment of other beverages is a complete mess. The book conflates and blurs categories and makes arbitrary distinctions seemingly randomly. Among the beer listings Chimay is an entry by itself but none of the other five Trappist breweries even get a mention. There are no individual entries or explanations of dubbels, tripels, Orval or other applicable categories for abbey beers. The treatment of wheat beers is a jumble. Lambics and fruit beers are conflated. Biere de Garde, Flemish Reds and Oud Bruins are completely ignored as are gueuze and non-fruit lambics as well as Belgian strong pale ales like Duvel. Witbier, called Blanche in the book, has an entry but it lacks any mention of the spices usually present. On the coffee front all Central and South American coffees are treated as a single entry as though they all had the same flavor profile. Yemen gets no mention at all. One entry reads "Aged (which imparts spicy components to its flavor)", with no mention of the typical loss of brightness. Tea is just as poorly covered. Green teas are treated as a single monolithic category as are all the Ceylon/Sri Lankan teas. There isn't a word about Nilgiris or white teas. All Single Malt Scotch is lumped together as one entry as though Laphroaig and Auchentoshan tasted more-or-less the same.