If the oldest question in the world is “What’s for dinner?” consider that the second oldest question may very well be “What wine should I serve with what dish?” Pairing wine with the right dish is an art, and in cities like Manhattan, bursting with five-star restaurants, sommeliers are highly valued artisans.
Perhaps you’ve had the good fortune to have experienced a prestigious chef’s tasting menu which often includes the option of pairing each dish with a different wine. Or if you were luckier still, experienced the food and wine pairing dinner in the chef’s own kitchen, where you could watch chefs work their magic.
Yet wouldn’t it be incredible to experience a multi-course food and wine pairing dinner, not just in the kitchen but above it, perched in the sky? And with your very own sommelier pouring various wines?
To celebrate a friend’s birthday, I made arrangements to experience the sky box in the kitchen of Celebrity Chef’s Daniel Boulud’s esteemed four-star Restaurant Daniel, winner of numerous awards. As a wine journalist who often writes about how to pair wine with food, I decided to have a chat with Sommelier Raj Vaidya in advance of the experience, to understand his methodology for choosing the wines.
Raj, recently the sommelier at another celebrated restaurant with a notable wine list called Cru, has been in the business for over ten years and admitted that yes, he is a "fairly decent home chef" – which is quite an asset in his business. We verbally went through the eight-course pairing menu and I asked him his thoughts on the wine matches.
Please note that for four guests, two guests receive one dish, and the other two receive the other. Sharing is encouraged.
Wine to be paired with first course: Balthazar Ress Riesling Spätlese “Oestricher Doosberg,” Rheingau 1995
First Course Dishes
Parsley Emulsion, Littleneck Clams, Sweet Garlic Custard
Eckerton Hill Farm Heirloom Tomatoes
Salad with Peekytoe Crab, Avocado, Burrata
Chilled Soup with Sherry Vinegar
So why Riesling? Raj explains that it has great freshness, even after fourteen years, and that it has the kind of acidity that will stand up to the flavors of the food. He chose the Rheingau region specifically because of its earthy mineral elements.