The theatre of food and wine

Last week had me singing for my supper again as a presenter of wine at a food and wine evening. Ideally, you know what the food is going to taste like through a preceding session with the chef, but this is not always possible – and to be honest not all chefs seem to think it necessary, overly-confident of their powers against the capricious nature of wine.

Problem is when the food doesn’t go with the wine… and you are standing there caught between telling it like it is and turning it into a chance to discuss the principles of matching; or pretending everything is just swell – in fact the most perfect match ever, (which is regrettably what you hear at most of these affairs).

Food and wine matching is something of a parlour game, a pastime of our BBC Food age. “Eat what you like and drink by the same rule” is a principle to ward off the anti-snob brigade. At the same time there are better and worse pairings, and when you are asked to present a table you assume that the people want to know a bit more about this pastime, and you engage – turning it into a chance to bring wine to life in its most ideal setting, the social table.

So this time the food and wine were, after all, well matched, and I could be truthful without having to choose my words diplomatically.