Wine Reviews vs. Wine With Food Reviews

By John ~ August 20th, 2010.

More than a few times I’ve had someone ask me, which is the ideal setting in which to review a wine, with food or without food? My standard reply is: when do you normally drink wine, with food or without it? For most people, the answer is with food. So the best evaluations of wine for those people probably are with food.

At Wine Peeps, where we are tasting thousands of wines a year in a variety of settings, as a reader you might want to note the setting for the tasting when placing importance on a particular one of our reviews. Personally, I value the results of our monthly wine tasting dinners and weekly family private tastings the most. The reasons are that the tastings are blind tastings and with food. When I find a wine that knocks my socks off before I’ve had anything to eat and then continues to be my favorite all the way through the evening with the meal, I would give our review of that wine the ultimate in credibility.

Over the years, those of us who taste multiple wines virtually every day develop a memory bank of the main characteristics of each varietal we taste regularly: aroma and taste flavors, acidity, tannins, and so on. We have a standard in our minds and can tell very quickly if a wine is fundamentally sound and measures up to that standard or not. Quite often, the wines we serve in our blind tastings with meals are wines that first caught our attention in a public or trade tasting, a blind samples tasting, or even in a tasting room. Therefore, a good review from a blind tasting with food is a validation of our first impression.

One further question that frequently comes up when we talk about wine with food reviews is: how can a vegetarian or vegan reviewer fully evaluate a big red wine best enjoyed with red meat? It’s a good question, and one I haven’t been able to answer, nor find a good answer. [If you have any insight to help answer this question, please feel free to share in the comments.] We on the Wine Peeps team eat whatever LaGayle calls for in her wine and food pairings, whether it’s a juicy steak, a pork tenderloin, chicken marsala, shrimp etouffee, etc. You name it; we’ll eat it paired with the appropriate wine(s). It’s tough duty, but someone has to do it.


Filed under: Food & Wine, General Wine Information, Wine Tasting Dinners

Reader's Comments

  1. Michael Good | August 20th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Although there can be no perfect answer to the question and “big red wine” leaves a rather large door through which to walk, I have some suggestions.

    Mushroom dishes(particularly with polenta), green vegetables(not brussel sprouts), potatoes, egg plant(probably not Cabs. or Merlots, but certainly big Italian reds) , olive based dishes, hummus, roasted red peppers(usually would be best with a Souhern Rhone style wine).

    On the other hand, John, why not just ask LaGayle?

    I hope this response opens the door to discussion as I’m sure there are better or more interesting responses than my offering.

  2. John | August 20th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Michael. Thanks for the comment and the good suggestions. I will ask LaGayle, too.

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  4. KMS | August 26th, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Big reds are always great with a “big cheese.”