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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Several months into the pandemic, the restaurant industry remains among the hardest hit in the U.S., with scant evidenceparticularly those run by BIPOC entrepreneurs, who have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus-related losses—their fates lie directly in continuing sales. Eat Okra app, founded by New York couple Anthony and Janique Edwards in 2016, which gives a boost of visibility to Black-owned b
The 20th-century futurist, theorist, inventor, and architect R. Buckminster Fuller was a tireless visionary and radical thinker who wrote dozens of books and proposed theoretical designs advocating for Synergetic Stew: Explorations in Dymaxion Dining, a collection of recipes and anecdotes originally compiled by Fuller’s friends as a surprise gift for his 86th birthday
Tamy Rofe, a sommelier who owns Brooklyn’s farm-to-table-y Latin American restaurant Colonia Verde with her husband, Felipe Donnelly, operates by a matra borrowed from her mother: “La comida compartida sabe mejor.” In English, it means, “Food tastes better when shared.” From the eatery’s lived-in aesthetic to its signature Sunday general store,” selling and even delivering nearly every ingredient on its menu alongside prepared meals and grill boxes—a way for Co
Lexie Smith is an artist and baker, though it’s only relatively recently, after years of working in restaurant kitchens and balanciBread on Earth. Her work often takes on various forms, from performance and installation to photography, writing, and publishing, all
After years in various kitchens, working his way up from dishwasher to cook, and ultimately chef de partie at Eleven Madison Park, Matt Jozwiak left the fine-dining world behind in 2017 to start Rethink Food NYC, a nonprofit organization that partners with restaurants and grocery stores to reduce excess food and make nutritious, Ghetto Gastro and Jozwiak’s former boss, chef Daniel Humm—as collaborators in its mission to fight food insecurity and foster a more
Extolled by New York City’s finest restaurants, from Daniel to Eleven Madison Park and abcV, as well as a growing coteriDavocadoguy, is seemingly everyone’s go-to guy for the best avocados. He keeps his supply consistently stocked and perfectly ripene
Supermarkets put billions of pounds of perfectly fine, edible food to waste each year for the very silly, Goldilocks reanearly half of all harvested produce is never eaten. The home-delivery start-up Misfits Market aims to right the wrong of this senseless global food crisis, selling only produce that is certified organic, non-GMO,