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Ernest Valtri: On Wine One wine, two meals


My wife and I had a fantastic bottle of 2007 Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner recently and as is our usual routine, we only drank about half the bottle. It complemented our beef barley soup nicely (Though this wine was so good, it would’ve made a piece of cardboard passable.). It’s definitely on my candidate list for my personal wine of the year.

However, it underscored a common problem we often address. With the intention of drinking the rest of the wine with the following evening’s dinner, how do you plan for a single bottle to match well with two different meals?

We’ve got three different approaches. First is to simply plan two meals that both pair well with a Cab. Easy peasy. Maybe too easy for someone always looking for wine adventure, but it’s obviously an effective solution.

A second way out of this predicament is to begin drinking yesterday’s bottle while preparing tonight’s dinner. That way, a good portion of the potentially uncomplimentary wine will be gone before you know it.

Another possibility is to simply not care. It’s great (and very useful) to know and respect all those wine pairing rules that are out there, as they’ve gained “rule” status because they absolutely work. But it’s also OK (maybe even good) not to follow the rules now and then. Which, regarding our Plumpjack dilemma, meant the following night’s dinner could be anything from flounder to farfalle. We went with chicken chasseur, primarily made with onions, mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes and several herbs.

Chicken and Cabernet? Definitely against the rules. And while the complementary factor was, well, a non-factor, the food was good and the wine remained superb.

Since we almost never finish a bottle at a single meal, this rule-breaking quandary often arises. It’s pretty frequent we have a leftover wine that doesn’t go particularly well with what we’re eating, but it’s also nice to consume a good bottle while it’s still good rather than discard it once its lost its’ appeal.

While researching this, I soon realized there isn’t any research out there. At least none that I found. So, we’re pioneering. Or have I just created a problem that doesn’t really exist? (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Ernest Valtri of Buckingham is a sculptor, painter, graphic designer and a former member of the PLCB’s Wine Advisory Council. Please contact Erno at