The sweet science of aromatics


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First aired on Homerun (07/03/13)

Montreal sommelier François Chartier achieved a rare feat this year by winning the prestigious Best Food and Wine Pairing Book at the Paris Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Chartier, and his writing partner, chef Stephane Modat, were honoured for their Taste Buds and Molecules (Papilles et Molécules) series.

The unique cookbooks revolve around aromatic science -- how to combine different foods and flavours together with wine, beer, spirits and other beverages, even green tea. Chartier told CBC's Homerun that their goal was to show people that pairing food and drink is something that doesn't have to be experienced at expensive, fancy restaurants.

"We decided to do this collection to try to show to everyone that this science is for everyone," he said. "It's easy. Everyone can make it at home."

It's all about understanding "aromatic families," according to Chartier. Pork, for example, is in the same aromatic family as apricot, coconut, pecans, and Scotch whisky, to name just a few. They share the same dominant aromatic compounds and when you pair any of them together, "there's a power of attraction."

"The result is better than the sum of the parts."

Another winning combination is pairing an arugula, mint tabbouleh salad with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Taste-Buds-and-Molecules-125.jpgChartier has always had a keen interest in food, which helps him in his role as sommelier.

"You cannot be a sommelier if you don't know how to cook, because you do matching wine and food, so I've been travelling around the world since 25 to understand cooking, not only wine."

He estimates he tastes more than 3,000 wines each year -- which isn't bad work, if you can get it.

"I do what I love. I'm very lucky. It's a way of living, it's a philosophy of living."