The Science of Food and Wine Pairing

“Carignane and goat cheese,” said Tony Ross, wine educator at Passalacqua Winery near Healdsburg, California. During a judging session for a local home wine competition, Tony and I were on the same panel. Between entries, I mentioned working on this “Techniques” column on pairing and he gave me his favorite recommendation. I went on to try out his suggestion on my coworkers (more on that later) and I set out to see if I could bring some scientific principles to bear on this complex subject. We all have favorite food-wine pairings and there are lots of “eat this, drink that” guidelines out there. With a background in the sciences, it is my goal to make such things a bit more predictable. If you know what is going on physiologically and chemically when you taste food and wine, maybe some delightful pairings can come together with a bit less experimentation. Not that there’s anything wrong with experimenting! In ideal pairings of foods with wines, the experience is enhanced for both. It’s a bit like setting up two of your friends on