Selected by Victor L. Robilio Jr. from his 2002 book “Great American Guide for Fine Wines”

Wine snobs may profess that only white wines go with fish and chicken but they are wrong. Don’t laugh. You can serve light red wine with fish or chicken. Just serve the light red wine (Merlot or Pinot Noir) at about 62 degrees, not room temperature.

Cooking with wine adds flavor to food. The alcohol leaves the dish and only the flavor remains. Hot-flavored foods overpower most wines but Gewurztraminer can hold its own with barbecue ribs or a pulled white pork sandwich laden with barbecue sauce. White Merlot works well with hot Szechwan Chinese foods as well as Cajun and Mexican cuisine. Don’t miss the boat-experiment with a variety of foods and wines to discover the optimal combination.

Cheeses and wines belong together. Try mild cheeses such as Jarlsberg, Edam and Muenster with apples and crusty French bread. Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot represent ideal partners. More potent cheeses like Brie, Camembert and Cheddar enhance Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir Reserve and Zinfandel.

With very strong cheeses in the category of Stilton and Gorgonzola favor wines that can accommodate their robustness. Such wines are named Portos and they originate from Portugal. Although somewhat high in alcoholic volume (14 to 21%) they serve as the ideal companion to very potent cheeses.

If you are watching carefully your waistline, grilled chicken and fish constitute excellent selections. Chardonnay would represent a very good choice and would offer you the twin benefits of good taste and good health.

When tasting wine or food concentrate by using the tip of your tongue. By so doing your mind will perceive sweetness of dryness. The sides of your tongue up front convey the amount of fruity acidity(lemon, lime or grapefruit taste). Cup or roll your tongue, sides up, center flat and inhale air. Incredibly, the olfactory nerve in your nose may detect more than 300 distinct odors.

The taste of tannin will impress you like a strong cup of hot tea when you have left the bag to steep too long. You may describe the taste of tannin as distinct and strong and maybe observed in young vintage-dated European or American Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. Significantly, Nature has assigned tannin the vital role of preserving wine along with the alcohol.

Tannin dissipates after proper aging and the wine assumes a smooth and pleasant character. Age your wines to match your own tolerance of tannin and recognize sediment as a healthy sign that the wine has been aged impressively. A green mold, occasionally found on the top of your unopened cork, should not engender alarm. It means that the wine has been stored correctly in a cool, dark cellar.

Myra Waldo once remarked, “The primary purpose of wine is to make food taste better.”

I agree. Consume moderately and enjoy wine!

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