WineToMatch Food and Wine Pairing Blog

WineToMatch for Android and much more

posted on January 6 2011 by david

Almost too many announcements to handle today. Lots of new things happening in the WineToMatch family.

#1. WineToMatch is on Android Market! Today we launch the Android version of our industry-leading iOS app, WineToMatch. You’ll get the same personalized wine pairing recommendations as you’ve come to expect from the website and iPhone app, with a few new features available only to our Android users. In particular, we’ve emphasized the educational component of our service. So if you don’t when to drink that bottle of Pinotage you got for Christmas, you can go straight to our Pinotage screen in the app, and see that it’s at it’s best with grilled meats and a side of mushrooms. See WineToMatch for Android here on AppBrain and on Market.
In honor of the Android launch, we’re discounting both the Android and iPhone app to 99 cents through Saturday at 5pm Pacific. So download today and please spread the word.

#2. As some of you may know, our co-founder, Master Sommelier Jesse Becker has been hard at work the last several months preparing to launch a direct import & retail service. Today, périphé is live. Tomorrow morning it will introduce its first hand-selected offer to members of its free mailing list. Sign up today to make sure you don’t many any of the fine, Old World selections at limited-time direct import prices.

#3. The newest website in the WineToMatch family, is entering a public beta today. There’s plenty more to come with this new product, but you can already enjoy this search engine tailored to return only high-quality, chef-tested recipes from the web. No longer will you have to sort through pages of slightly suspect recipe sources in order to find a chef/magazine/blogger you trust. Try searching LegitRecipes today to see what we mean. As mentioned, we’re (perhaps generously) calling this a beta release. Please tolerate some hiccups for a few weeks, but do enjoy the quality of the results today.

#4. The individual wine pages here at have been redesigned. Check out Rioja to see the changes. We think the layout is a bit more user-friendly and we’ve added some suggested recipes and favorite pairing partners to get you started on your road to wine pairing nirvana.

It should be an exciting 2011 for WineToMatch, périphériquewine and LegitRecipes. We wish you all a Happy New Year filled with fun, friends and of course great food & wine.

WineToMatch on Android Market

Wine pairing Android app

Price:  $0.99 until January 8th, 5pm Pacific

Wine and Food in the Trattorias of Rome

posted on September 8 2010 by jesse

“In the big, internationally minded ristoranti, the fare is less likely to be typically Roman. The places for real local food are the humbler trattorie, or taverns, where the fare and service are closer to those of a private home.” – Waverley Root, The Cooking of Italy

I had only a few hours to spend in Rome before an early-morning flight back to the States. There wasn’t time for ruins, the Colosseum, or strolling through the Trestevere. It was the last day of my annual trip to Italy for Vinitaly’s wine fair in Verona. That meant I had to be precise and disciplined with my time at the Roman trattoria.

The term “trattoria” gets misused quite a bit in America. A true trattoria is an unpretentious eatery with a limited and seasonal menu of local specialties. Real trattorie still exist, and I managed to find several good ones thanks to the help of Fred Plotkin’s excellent book, Italy for the Gourmet Traveler

Vegetables are event-worthy in Rome, and you’ll find arugula, broad beans, fresh peas and artichokes on most trattoria menus. I’ve previously written how tricky artichokes can be to pair with wine, but now I’m convinced that a dry, neutral, high-acid white wine is the way to go. Both carciofi alla giudia (flattened and fried artichokes in the style of Rome’s Jewish ghetto) and carciofi al alla romana (artichokes cooked in olive oil with mint and bread crumbs) seemed completely at home with a chilled pitcher of local Frascati, as did fava beans with ricotta and a peppery arugula salad.

One of my favorite trattoria discoveries was the fritti specialist La Matricianella. Supplì al telefono (little fried rounds of rice with cheese) and fiore di zucca (zucchini blossoms) and the feather-light ricotta fritti are not to be missed. The wine list at La Matricianella is an impressive two-volume set: one entire volume is dedicated entirely to the wines of Lazio, and the other volume is dedicated to the rest of Italy. I was impressed by how well a dry and lemony Grechetto served as the perfect foil for the salty-fried flavors of La Matricianella’s cuisine.

Some of the best known pasta dishes have their origins in the Roman trattoria. Spaghetti alla carbonara, fettuccine al burro (fettuccine Alfredo), and cacio e pepe (cheese and black pepper) are common in most Italian-American “red sauce” restaurants. I managed to scarf down a half-plate of each of these during my trattoria blitz, as well as my personal favorite, bucatini all’amatriciana. I’ve written before how I believe a dry red wine with good acidity is essential for cutting through the spicy-pork flavor of bucatini all’amatriciana. But tasting it again with a chilled glass of the white Trebbiano-based Est! Est!! Est!!! has me thinking otherwise.

I was too stuffed to continue, but I’d be remiss not to mention the excellent porchetta (suckling pig), abbacchio (milk-fed lamb), and Saltimbocca that Romans adore, not to mention the ubiquitous Pecorino cheese that seems to be sprinkled over everything. Dessert, liqueurs, and the red wines of Lazio will have to wait for my next visit to Rome’s trattorie.

Expert food and wine pairing advice

posted on June 15 2010 by jesse

Wine Pairing
Sparkling Franciacorta is sensational when paired with salty bresaola.

Elizabeth and I have been busy planning a new online wine retail business that we’ll be launching later this year so I was psyched to see périphériquewine mentioned by Ray Isle, wine editor at Food & Wine magazine, in the July 2010 issue. Ray contacted me about a month ago and shared his concept for the article: He mocked-up up a wine list for “Restaurant Isle” a fictitional restaurant, a small place with a market-driven, New American menu featuring entrées in the $25 range. He then asked some of the top restaurant wine pros for a critique. Click here to read what my colleagues and I had to say about Ray’s list!

wine and cheese pairing
A perfect pairing if there ever was one: a picnic of Alsatian Gewurztraminer paired with a wheel of Munster cheese.

While clicking through some of Ray’s older stuff I discovered this excellent 2006 article on food and wine pairing and since that’s what WineToMatch is all about, I thought I’d share it with you here. Ray sums up nicely some of the most important things to remember when pairing food with wine:

Don’t match strong to delicate. Pairing a big, powerful, high-alcohol or high-tannin wine with a light, delicate dish (and vice versa) is rarely a good idea.

Acidity is your friend. People tend to be wary of wines described as “high acid,” like Sauvignon Blanc or Muscadet. Who wants to drink acid, after all? But there’s no better quality in a wine for matching rich, creamy or cheesy sauces, deep-fried foods or fish dishes; in addition, tart wines go better with tart foods, such as a vinaigrette on a salad.

Tannins pair well with fat. That’s because the astringency of the tannins cuts through the viscosity of the fat.

Follow the don’t-upstage-the-star rule. If you have an amazing bottle of wine you want to show off, especially an older vintage (they tend to be more subtle, their flavors less flamboyant), don’t serve a wildly complex dish with it. A simple dish will allow the wine to be the center of attention.

grilled lamb
Hearty California red wines like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are ideal with grilled Lamb.

Pairing Wine with Tuscan Cuisine

posted on May 18 2010 by jesse

The rolling hills of Chianti Classico from San Casciano Val di Pesa near Florence.

Italian cooking was arguably born in Tuscany at the Medici court. Today, Tuscany represents Italian cooking at its most simple and rustic. Tuscans have been nicknamed “mangiafagioli” (bean eaters), but I eschew the assertion by some that Tuscan cuisine is only about “beans, bread, and more beans.” I’ve highlighted some of the regional specialties of Tuscany below. We also wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to nine new Tuscan wines to our WineToMatch arsenal. Look for this trend to continue in coming weeks and look for some surprises along the way!

meatball and kale soup
Hearty soups are a signature of Tuscan cookery.

Bread is the foundation of Tuscan cooking. Many Tuscan classics begin with a rustic loaf of unsalted pane toscano. Bread, sliced thick, grilled, and rubbed with garlic is known as panunto. It is the basis of several classic Tuscan dishes. Fettunta is panunto but served with the year’s first olive oil, and is a specialty of Tuscany. Panunto and fettunta are the most basic type of bruschetta “grilled bread” as it is known in other Italian regions. Bruschetta can also be topped with an array of ingredients. When I’ve eaten bruschetta in Tuscany, it’s usually been referred to as crostoni (a larger version of crostini meaning “little toasts”), to which lentils, stewed tomatoes, liver, salumi, etc. is added as a topping. Bread can also be torn apart and added to a salad with tomatoes, onion, and basil, creating a dish known as panzanella. Bread thickens Tuscan soups such as ribollita, pappa al pomodoro, and zuppa di pane. Seafood prevails along the coast, where Livorno’s cacciucco is a delicious fish stew and is the inspiration behind the San Francisco classic cioppino. Tuscans are not particularly white wine drinkers, but these dishes would be well accompanied by two excellent Tuscan white wines: Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Vermentino.

rolling out fresh pasta
Freshly made wide-ribbon noodles like pappardelle and tagliatelle are the pastas of choice in Tuscany.

While soup plays a primary role, pasta is no stranger to Tuscany, especially when topped with a rich ragù of duck or wild hare. Meat ragùs of game are also served over polenta or faro, the ancient grain, especially those made from cinghale (wild boar). The southern half of the Tuscan coast known as Maremma is densely populated with wild boar. Here in the trees and hills of the Tuscan coast, the cinghale hunt is a celebrated event. Hunters and their dogs eagerly sniff out the boar in orchestrated hunts and transform their bounty into grilled ribs (rostinciana), roast loin (arista), spit-roasted livers wrapped in bay leaves (fegatelli), or as porchetta. It is also used for sausages, prosciutto, and salame known as finocchiona (flavored with wild fennel seeds). Stewed or rich ragù di cinghiale is served over pappardelle or polenta or faro. Sangiovese goes by many names in Tuscany. In Chianti, it is simply called Sangiovese, but in Maremma, a special clone of Sangiovese is grown known as Morellino di Scansano. Both are considered classic with this hearty fare.

Massive Chianina cattle are the source of prized Tuscan steaks including bistecca alla fiorentina.

Tuscans are Italy’s great meat-eaters. The indigenous white Chianina cattle that graze in Tuscany’s Val di Chiana are butchered into two-inch-thick steaks called bistecca alla fiorentina. These steaks are grilled over coals and are served blood rare and are often accompanied by stewed cannellini beans or roasted porcini mushrooms. Another popular dish, Tagliata di Manzo con Rucola is rare steak sliced into thin strips and served with Arugula and shavings of Pecorino Toscano and lemon. Fresh ricotta, by the way, is excellent when served with fava beans in springtime with a simple drizzling of oil. These steak and vegetable combinations are ideal partners for several traditional Tuscan red wines known as vini da arrosto (wines for roasts), including Chianti Classico Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Of course, modern Tuscan reds such as Sant’Antimo and Super Tuscans are worthy steak wines as well.

drinking wine in montalcino
Sipping wine at Bacchus Wine Bar in Montalcino.

It’s important to note some sweet specialties of Tuscany. Siena is famous for its chewy fruit and nut cake called panforte. And finally, the crunchy biscottini or cantucci cookies are ideally served with Tuscany’s notable sweet wine, Vin Santo.

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