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CBC Radio | August 25, 2006

A Glass of Wine

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A Glass of Wine

Beer may be considered the typical beverage at a backyard grill, but Craig Youdale prefers a glass of wine.

For Youdale, who teaches about wine at the Culinary Institute of Canada, wine is a key ingredient to any meal. And in proper pairing with food, it can create something greater than the sum of its parts.

We've heard that red wine goes with red meat and white wine goes with white meat. But when it comes to the barbecue, with its penchant for sauces and marinades, sometimes what goes on the meat can be a greater consideration than the meat itself. Is it sweet? Is it spicy?

Consider pepper steak and a big red wine. It's certainly a classic, but it's not necessarily for everyone.

"The tannins in the wine react with the spices in the food, combining like kerosene and fire," says Youdale.

"Red wine will really exaggerate the spiciness in your food. For some people this will be overwhelming, while for others this is just what they are looking for," he says, suggesting a Cabernet Sauvignon if this is your pleasure.

Other wine choices will ease the spice on your palate. They will allow you the zing, but give you a chance to wash it away when you need relief. Spicy white wines such as Reisling or Gewurztraminer will work. A Shiraz can provide a middle ground for the more adventurous.

Anything with a high fat content is going to need a flavourful wine. Fat tends to smooth out the flavours of wine, so a delicate white wine could come out having virtually no flavour at all served with back ribs.

Matching the food to the wine is central, Youdale says. Your favourite food and favourite wine are not necessarily going to come together well.

"We all like mint, and we all like a glass of orange juice," he says, "but we don't like drinking orange juice after we brush our teeth."

But don't over worry about the rules. Much of wine choice comes down to personal taste, and where you are may be just as important as what you're eating. Maybe that white wine is supposed to be served at 8 degrees, but who doesn't like an ice cold glass of wine on the deck?


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