There’s only one rule when it comes to pairing the right wine with the right food, according to food and wine connoisseur Raaj Sanghvi: There are no rules.
“Do what works for you and throw away the rule book. Wine is about fun, not about rules and pretensions.”
The founder of World Gourmet Festival, one of India’s biggest gastronomic festivals, and Culinary Culture, which recently launched a first of its kind annual ranking of the top 30 Chefs, FoodSuperstars, Sanghvi doesn’t understand why people still stick with outdated and inadequate (in his words) rules when it comes to wine. “We stick with white wine with fish and red wine with meat. But the sauce and the spicing are as important. For instance, if your pork chop is paired with an apple sauce then red wine may not be the right choice.”
The multi-hyphenated wine enthusiast’s journey towards becoming an equal opportunity wine lover didn’t come easy. “I had always been uncomfortable with matching sweet wines with food. I have now discovered that wines should not mirror what you are eating. The breakthrough for me came when I learned why foie gras and Sauternes are classic combinations. Since then I have looked for similar combinations.”
He does, however, have a few “sort-of-rules” that he abides by when deciding which wine to pick for which cuisine. “Chili is the enemy of fine wine. It deadens your palate. So don’t waste money on very good wine if you are eating a very spicy dish,” he says.
Ultimately, Sanghvi is of the belief that this is a matter of trial and error. “If you want to learn how to appreciate wine, nothing beats a corkscrew. But here are a few tips: learn to value white wine. A good burgundy goes perfectly with Peking Duck, though Pinot Noir is the classic combination,” he says, “White wine works better than red for most cheese. An Awadh biryani can be paired with any wine from Montrachet. Pay more attention to Champagne. It can handle most foods and works well with fried food. I find it goes best with Indian food. Champagne and chaat is my go-to combination!”
So do as Sanghvi does, throw away the rule book, and enjoy your wine!