Tom Douglas and Me
Last Saturday, Washington wine lovers from near and far could be found at the Taste Washington Seminars in Seattle. My seminar of choice? Food and Wine Pairing with Tom Douglas.
Tom guided the audience and panel through a tasting of four classic dishes from his Seattle restaurants. The panel not only included Tom Douglas, but also Stephanie Izard of Top Chef fame; Leslie Sbrocco, NBC’s Today Show wine correspondent; and Dawn Smith, sommelier of Heavy Restaurant Group. Michael Teer, owner of Pike and Western Wine Shop, moderated.
So, the audience got to hear about great pairing principles from some truly experienced experts. How? The dishes served were paired with a wine selected by Tom as well as a wine picked by Dawn. All panelists commented on which wines they felt paired well and why. Then the audience voted for the pairing they decided worked best. It was a “Tom vs. Somm” throwdown!
Here are some observations from the panel regarding wine and food pairings:
- Do focused matches before dinner.
- When pairing, select the wine first because you can’t change the wine; it is what it is. It’s easier to change to food to go with the wine (this was made as a counterpoint to Stephanie’s comment below).
- Sometimes it’s better to go with opposites, for example choose a sweet wine to go with spicy food.
- Match textures, just like how you match items in your wardrobe. You know, like if you’re wearing a light linen jacket, you put on something else lightweight that complements that. Apply that same principle to food and wine.
- Proper temperature is the Spanx of wine.
- Select the food first, then select a wine. As Dawn pointed out, that thinking is more progressive rather than the standard. However, Stephanie says that sometimes she’ll taste something and think that it is just made to go with a certain wine.
- Let your own palate be your guide.
- The higher the alcohol, the sweeter the wine appears.
- Spice raises your perception of alcohol.
There you have some tips to improve food and wine pairings around your table. For more details about the wine and food served, check out my review on Wine and Beer of Washington State.