Unimpressed by the snobbery that surrounds the wine industry, writer and sommelier Vanessa Price set out to prove that anyone can create palatable pairings using food in their fridge. In a weekly column for the New York magazine food and restaurant blog Grub Street, she has aligned Cheetos with Sancerre, barbecue ribs with Côte-Rôtie, and Superiority Burgers with sauvignon blanc—wittily justifying each match with a mix of science, straightforwardness, and personal anecdotes.
Her new book, Big Macs and Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World (Harry N. Abrams), builds on her quest to demystify what to drink with the fare we’re really eating. We recently spoke with Price to learn more about her unlikely introduction to wine and how it informs her practical pairings.
How did your passion for wine begin?
It was a happy accident. I was at university in Kentucky, looking for a flexible job that I could do around my studies, and came across a winery downtown. People laugh because it was right in the middle of bourbon country, but there was a great culture around wine there—customers would come in and ask questions about different flavors and styles. By the time I graduated, I’d decided to go work in wine. My family were like, “What does that even mean?”
Do you think your beginnings in wine country Kentucky gave you a different take on the industry?
I think it did. Later, during my training at New York’s Wine and Spirit Education Trust, the teacher would describe different wines by saying they were “earthy” or “tasted like a plum”—but to me, it all just tasted of red wine. I realized that we describe wine in ways that take a lot for granted about what people know about it. The baseline of conversation, either unwittingly or arrogantly, is well above what would be a fair place to start. So I decided I wanted to write about wine specifically with this in mind: How do you talk about wine within a context that people can understand, and not [using language like] “tannins,” “acids,” and “a long finish”? Can you contextualize wine with food that everyone knows?
It’s a remarkably sensible approach. Why do you think it resonates with people?
It’s entertaining. Sancerre and Cheetos—that’s hilarious. But it’s also educational. If I say to you, “When you have viscous food, you need a wine that is lean in body and high in acid, with a spirited minerality,” you’re not going to know what I’m talking about. Instead, I could say, “You know that orange-y powder that gets stuck to your fingers when you eat Cheetos? That creates a viscous feeling in your mouth. You need to pair it with a wine that acts like a squeegee on [your tongue], which is usually something with a higher acidity, like a Sancerre.” Put that way, the information sticks.
What are some of the most surprising combinations you’ve come up with?
I love ones that introduce people to wines they wouldn’t not normally know or try—things like putting a [McDonald’s] Filet-O-Fish with an Austrian Blaufränkisch, or a hot-caramel sundae with twenty-year-old tawny [port]. I take wine very seriously, but I want to present it to people in a way that feels less daunting.
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Daytime drinking is on the up—hey, it’s 5 p.m. somewhere (not that we can keep track of time these days, though the #HandMarkingTime Stories on our @slowdown.tv Instagram at least help us remember which day of the month it is). But if you prefer not to risk getting a hangover, or weakeningDram Apothecary makes a version of the increasingly popular drink in a range of flavors, such as cardamom and black tea, using CBD extrWild Mountain Sage) and switchels, as well as a set of CBD tinctures that you can either drop directly on your tongue, or add to any drink
The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has put a sudden and massive halt on the restaurant industry: Bars, small businesses, mega-c“morbidly high business death rate.” (There’s an episode of our At a Distance podcast on this very subject with Esquire food and drinks editor Jeff Gordinier coming out soon.) As wholesale restaurant suppliers now find their client bases on
As people everywhere settle into new home-cooking routines, finding resourceful ways to make their pantry goods stretch victory garden. Luckily for apartment dwellers without a backyard or access to much green space (more than half the world, basically), all you need is a corner of a countertop to grow some fresh herbs indoors. Better still, and for the botanEdn. The company makes wifi-controlled kits that come with a built-in LED grow light; simple seed pods for no-fuss, soillesSmall Garden order placed—a welcome reminder, in these uncertain times, that your efforts to stay indoors can make a difference for
Self-quarantine and social distancing in the age of the coronavirus are not to be taken lightly, and if, like us, you’refor your own safety and for the safety of others—you may be asking yourself what to stock your pantries with. Add to cart: DADA Daily, a line of tasty and healthy snacks that are neither heavy-handedly survivalist nor overprocessed and, not to mention, so don’t be that bulk-buying, toilet paper-stockpiling jerk.
As the daughter of Slow Food pioneer and Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, Fanny Singer has had her share of Proustian Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes and Stories (Alfred A. Knopf), offers a warm and sensorial portrait of her mother, and of an upbringing that often revolved around
Dimes, the all-day café, bar, and market founded by Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner in downtown Manhattan, has always doneDimes Times: Emotional Eating (Karma Books)—which she says is the first in a series of more publications to come.
Rich Shih, founder of the blog Our Cook Quest and co-author of the forthcoming book Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation, is a self-taught cook and fermentation expert who makes everything from takuan pickles to fish sauce from scratch, twekoji, the source of umami in fermented ingredients like miso, soy sauce, mirin, and more.
South Korean cinema has been on everyone’s lips this week, in the afterglow of director Bong Joon-ho’s triumphant OscarsParasite, the grand finale to a months-long award spree that began with a Palme d’Or win at the Cannes Film Festival last year. making history in more ways than one. By his second acceptance speech, Bong, whose reactions were being duly memed, was ready to hit the bar. His exact words: “I’m ready to drink now, until the morning.” A total mood.
Zach Mangan, founder of the specialty Japanese tea importer, gallery, and café Kettl, tells us what to look, smell, and taste for in a top-quality matcha.