Of all alcoholic drinks, wine occupies a privileged place.
I guess this links in with my post a few days ago, titled ‘what is wine?‘
Wine has a long history with civilization (at least with some cultures). In western cultures, it has a right of place at table, to the exclusion of most other beverage types.
I guess in some pub restaurants people still bring their pint of beer to the table, but it’s rare to find beer lists. The expectation is that when you dine, you order wine. There’s a wine list. There may even be a sommelier. It’s deeply ingrained, culturally, to have wine at table.
Is this because wine, as an alcoholic beverage, is uniquely suited to pairing with food?
Or is it because wine, as an object type, is ingrained in our understanding of a restaurant, as another object type?
Could wine lose this privileged position? Or is it here to stay?
I have been to a dinner at a very fine restaurant that attempted to match spirits with food – it was odd, but fun. I have also been to a memorable beer and food matching lunch. It was truly brilliant. There’s no reason that wine should have this primacy/
Look, I think wine is wonderful and special. But I love flavour, and I’d love to go to a restaurant that had a sommelier of sorts who worked across all drink types. In some ways, the obsessions we have with object types get in the way. We expect a bottle of wine, and we like our wine to come in 75 cl bottles. We consider beer to be personal: we order a bottle of beer and that is ‘my beer’. Both these things get in the way of matching food and beverage. We simply don’t think in terms of spirits and food as matches, although in Russia I had a good experience of this.
I’d love to know what foodie people think of this strong association between food and wine. I’d also be interested to know how things work in non-wine cultures.