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The wine and food pairing puzzle

John Fischer, a Culinary Institute of America instructor, in his book At Your Service demystifies the wine and food pairing conundrum, enabling staff to confidently offer suggestions to their guests.

Fischer writes, “The amount of knowledge required to be a wine expert is staggering, and impossible to bestow upon every member of the floor staff. Thus, you need to simplify it for the people you’re training. To me, this means going conceptual rather than informational. You can get your staff to think about wine in a way that will aid in getting wine on the table.”

Exactly. He then goes on to propose a simple quadrant system to support less-experienced staff in assisting the wine selections of their guests.  Regardless of whether you’re the waiter taking the order or the guest placing it, you can benefit from Fischer’s system:

The Quadrant System:

  • North (light-bodied, high acid wines because the grapes don’t get as ripe)
  • South (fuller wines, less acidity because the grapes are riper when picked)
  • Old World (European origin; wine is an accompaniment to food; earthier, drier, and missing some fruit)
  • New World (USA, S. America, Australia; are often drunk by themselves and need to be a complete flavor; sometimes clash with foods because they already contain all the flavor they need).

Put these two axes together and you’ll now be able to identify a light-bodied, fruity wine by looking for a cold region in the New World (e.g., Washington state) or a full, dry red wine to go with a big steak by looking for a warmer region in the Old World  (e.g., Southern Italy).

Bon appétit!

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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