The latest issue of the Wine Spectator features an interview with author Jim Harrison who apparently has written successful novels, some made into movies. He seems well off and well connected. He is also down to earth. I loved his answer to a question about his thoughts regarding wine-food pairing. He invoked his friend Jack Nicholson in an anecdote that exemplified his approach to this subject. At Gibson’s, a steak house in Chicago, Nicholson, whom he described as “not a big drinker, but he really likes nice wine”, ordered and enormous prime rib steak and proceeded to wash it down with not one, but two bottles of St. Emillion. “What more do you want?”, concluded Mr. Harrison. End of story.
Now there’s my kind of guy. Crude, no nonsense and yet sporting a refined taste. Down with all those fu-fu foods to be paired with this and that wine! Cut the B.S., keep it simple and basic. How many times have I labored over this issue in restaurants? With me a seafood lover, and my wife a Nicholson-competitor red-meat carnivore, it has been a painful problem. At times I have resigned myself to simply ordering a bottle and sipping it in between the courses, while washing down my meal with water. It is easier at home where we are less likely to consume appetizers, salads and entree’s with widely divergent flavor profiles. In fact at home it is closer to Nicholson. A nice piece of steak or fish, and bring out a Bordeaux or Chablis, respectively.
I sometimes think that the pundits and magazines intentionally make it all complicated, for if they kept it Nicholson-simple they would be out of a job.
Furthermore no-one can argue with nice bottles of St. Emillion. Haven’t you ever been tempted to knock out two in one sitting when the first was wonderful? And if you’ve never experienced this Bordeaux appellation, go to your favorite wine shop at once and try some. It will put all those expensive California Merlots or Meritage mixes (it’s mostly merlot & cabarnet franc) to shame, since by and large most value St. Emillion’s are cheaper than their local counterparts for the quality they deliver.