Despite the dirty looks and obscene gestures I get whenever I drive by a field filled with cattle or stroll by the local chicken farm, I stand by the notion that red wine goes with red meat and white wine goes with white meat. Sorry, Bessie. My apologies Chicken Little. It’s just a fact among humans. Please stop trying to get us back with Mad Cow and Bird Flu. Your revenge tactics are getting old.
Still, it’s not like you have to be a carnivore to enjoy wine. Pasta, breads, and cheeses all certainly enhance a good glass of wine as much as any piece of meat. In fact, it might seem that wine — especially after consuming too much of itself — will go home with anything. Fish? Chili? Desserts? Even Hamburger Helper? Wine appears to have no limits.
It may appear that way, but there are definitely some ingredients that go with wine about as well as the saying, “No, no, no, I’d rather have beer.”
Gum: It might be mint, it might be grape, it might even be a foot of Bubble Tape. Whatever it is, it should be one thing: spit out. Any flavor of gum can alter the way wine tastes. Even if the gum has been in your mouth for hours, and thus lost its potency, it can still have a noticeable effect on your taste buds.
For this reason, never sample wine while you are “with Chiclet,” and don’t chew gum in the hours before a glass of wine. If you happen to be chewing gum, spit it out and cleanse your palate. This will help you taste the wine, and not the Hubba Bubba.
Toothpaste: Don’t brush your teeth or use mouthwash before you sample wine. Sure, nine out of ten dentists may disagree, but listen to me, not to them. Brushing your teeth or shooting some Scope will ruin the experience.
Just as a dollop of toothpaste before a glass of orange juice will bring your taste buds to a bitter end, so will coupling Pepsodent with a Pinot. This isn’t to say that wine drinkers should never engage in oral hygiene, just engage in it around your wine list’s schedule.
Mints: Just like the toothpaste dilemma, eating mint before or during wine-drinking negates the experience and alters the flavors. Put down your peppermints, ignore your York Patties, and say no to that mint ice cream sitting in your freezer. No matter how much it begs, you’re not to consume it.
The flavor of mint can overpower even the strongest wine, leaving you with — quite literally — a bad taste in your mouth. Even something as minor as sucking on a Tic Tac can hurt the experience. Mint herbs and spearmint herbs, however, are fine to consume. If sucking on leaves is your thing, you are certainly in luck.
Vinegar: In the world of wine, vinegar is a no-no. Whether adding it to foods or drinking it directly from the bottle, vinegar has no business being involved with wine. They are, plainly put, archenemies.
For this reason, vinegar should be omitted, even when it comes to salad. One of the best alternatives is to use wine as the “vinegar” part of a salad dressing. For example, instead of using oil vinaigrette, compose a salad dressing using oil, wine, and whatever spices you want. This will keep your salad bar from interfering with your mini bar.
Not all foods or food ingredients go with all wines, but there are usually at least a few wines out there that will go with anything. The above, however, are exceptions. By avoiding them you can help keep your wine drinking experience from being compromised. Ditch the Colgate, and keep the Cabernet.