Coke Roth

Final thoughts from the thewless on food pairings

If you plan to learn anything from this ad absurdum attempt to get a paycheck, it will assuredly be wasted time. You are better off reading the sage words of other contributors to this axis mundi on Northwest wine in the stead of taking in the words of this thewless author, because this valediction of written rubbish is not about wine, it’s about foods and the liquids we wash them down with, or not.

Heaven knows I have tried to pair every edible with wine, some in vain. A deluge of wine has hit the back of my throat for five decades now, between large bites, and, if you ever saw me, you would instantly know that I go for seconds on both. If quantity were the measure of imagination, I would be the food and beverage Einstein.

Some industry commentators fantasticate wine, attempting to convince you that you can find a wine that harmonizes with every food. Well, not this cowboy. And boy can the opinions vary.

Take, for example, spicy Mexican foods. I read that some Rasputin says that Enchiladas go with Sangiovese, and Pork Carnitas with Habanero sauce pairs with Albarino . No, neither does. They go with a no-salt, limey, juicy double-shot Añejo Margarita laden with a copious amount of Cointreau!

If you have a French-fried jalapeño on your Carne Asada, you need a Margarita for each hand. Water? Yes, for bathing, swimming, freezing into ice for my Macallan Cask-Strength Scotch, and better than Grenache with a taco.

One somm says that the dry, crisp taste of Sauvignon Blanc hits the mark with spicy chili with beans. The next flavor expert gave the nod to Zinfandel or Tempranillo. And a foodie magazine said the go-to wine was a gracious Alsatian white.

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What? What on earth did they do with their sense of taste? They all need beer. And not some designer beer, either I’m talking Rainier good ol’ "Vitamin R.”

I recently took a trip to Vietnam, where the street and on-premise food is heavenly, and European wines were available from the French nexus that started in the 18th century. And the wines of Germany are there because the Germans are always looking to vacation somewhere warm.

Off-dry Riesling has been long held as the liquid that played a symphony with the herbal integrated flavors of phở. I tried it with some doggone nice Mosel Riesling while there marginal. Some married this traditional dish with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc due to herbal influences of basil, anise, ginger and cilantro. Sorry, for me they didn’t work. Tiger and Hanoi-branded beer worked to the point that I, single-handedly, created a beer shortage.

I was the Grand Potentate of the Roth clan BBQ until dethroned by too-good-to-be-true son, Frank, and son-in-law, Mike. Doing more than snatching a pebble from the master’s hand, the students became the teachers on how to cram flavor into meat.

Their creative rubs and marinades containing standard to exotic ingredients, and the copious use of every wood imaginable, produce power-packed flavor with every bite. While internet pontificators would tell you Syrah, Pinot Noir or even Riesling enhance the enjoyability of these complex, muscular works of art, the contrarian in me says they call for IPA, not wine.

After dinner with a few dozen of my finest friends, the male half retired to the Roth deck for some whisky and cigarsa gentlemanly thing to do with those of my generation. Nuts, strong cheese and Port would have been fine, but the best overall combo with this classic dessert added up to 1 glass with 2 ice cubes and 3-fingers of Four Roses Bourbon — it was a 10 (do the math).

And my pal, Tim McNally from New Orleans, the "King of Cocktails," while a staunch advocate for sparkling wine with brunch, took me out for Brandy Milk and Bloody Marys. Tim renewed my interest in the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned and the Sidecar.

He also introduced me to the Sazerac and the French 75. No one likes wine more than I, but you are missing out on such varied flavors when omitting the classic cocktail from your week.

With the cocktail, like those delicious woody, high-alcohol, viscous, moderately sweet (yes, they are) wines you drink, no food necessary in fact no food suggested. Why mess up the flavors of a rich Chardonnay or over-the-top Cabernet Sauvignon with food?

I would suggest to you that you have been sold a bill of goods if you take a 15% alcohol, blackberry/raspberry-jammy, French-oaked into a coma Pinot Noir and have it with steelhead. Sure, the experts would tell you it marries like the yin and yang, but I think it is a gorilla and a butterfly.

I gotta tell you, it was downright comical reading the varied opinions on the web of what wine goes with turkey. It is easier to eliminate the wines not advocated than list those that were.

How can the experts you rely upon for advice be so contradictory? They are all of the same species and have the same sensory equipment. They all have broad experiences tossing back the foods and wines opined upon. It is because they know what they are talking about for them, not you.

Finally, it would not be right to omit attribution to my bestest Canadian pal, Harry McWatters, who lent me this finale, which I sincerely hope you continue to practice: With your friends and food, enjoy your beverages in moderation, frequently. Shalom.

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