I have been browsing the new six-volume Modernist Cuisine cookbook to see how it handles wine. Most cookbooks don't even bother with wine, except to specify generically red or white to use in a specific recipe. A few offer suggestions of what to drink with a dish.
The advice on pairing wine and food pretty much jibes with my own experience, however. That's not surprising, because I know the author, Nathan Myhrvold, qualifies as a wine aficionado.
Some are calling Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, by Nathan Myhrvold, the most important cookbook since Escoffier. Up-to-the-minute, scientifically tested, lavishly and innovatively photographed, this six-volume exploration of everything we know about food preparation, 10 years in the making, explains in detail how cooking techniques really work, busts myths and wive's tales, and thoroughly explores the modernist arsenal of equipment, ingredients and techniques, complete with recipes in a unique format.
Here are my notes on the tome's wine volume, which features some very unorthodox recommendations that I can't wait to try...
Every producer who makes a wine that gets a big push from a high rating or high-profile recognition soon realizes that it's a double-edged sword. Australia's Schild may have become a victim of its own success with the highly rated 2008 Barossa Shiraz when they decided to bottle more of it, from different grapes.
A recent comment from a reader, responding to my review of a wine-and-food match, made a lightbulb appear above my head. He asked whether a wine's ability to interact with food should be considered when we rate wines. "You must agree," wrote Vince Liotta, writing from Elmurst, Ill., "that some wines have more ability to do this than others."
Indeed I do agree. But it's not really an either-or situation where wines that drink best with more types of food should be considered superior. In my view, it is exactly the opposite. "It's true that some wines are more versatile," I wrote. "In general, the less dramatic and compelling the wines, the greater variety of foods they can match with, simply because there are fewer flavors and other characteristics in the wines to get in the way."
Last Saturday was National Day of Unplugging, in which we were urged to turn off our cell phones, PDAs, tablets and other electronic communications gadgets for 24 hours. The idea, to counteract Internet addiction, makes sense if you go into a cold sweat when you can't get to your iPhone. Don't get me wrong. I love having my iPhone in my pocket connecting me to information and people that only a few years ago would have been out of reach. But I have learned not to get frantic if I leave the device at home when I go out for dinner.
On the other hand, I do like having it at the ready to, oh, say, look up an unfamiliar wine in the Wine Spectator database, or check a vintage using the WS VintageChart app. Or maybe jot a quick tweet to treat my Twitter followers to a random observation or alert them to a recent posting of a tasting note.
Virginia is about to become the latest state to allow us customers to bring our own bottle to a restaurant, otherwise known as corkage or BYOB (bring your own bottle). The question for me is, why are there any states where this is not permitted? According to a Wine Spectator survey, only 25 states specifically allow corkage without restriction.
Although 15 states out-and-out forbid the practice, it should be noted that no state requires establishments to let their customers bring in a bottle. It's entirely up to the restaurants whether they want to. In practice, most do, some grudgingly, many enthusiastically, especially when people bring in cool wines. It fills the seats with people who enjoy good food and wine.