Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dinner priorities

Imagine for a moment, you are joining five of your friends who are already sitting at a restaurant table. They are all tucking into plates of the same delicious roast chicken but the contents of their glasses differ. Al is drinking Cotes du Rhone; Bea is sipping at a Riesling; Carl’s tankard is full of Guiness; Dee is on water and Ed has a Coke.

Ok, let’s change the picture. The same five friends are sitting at the same table. This time, they all have glasses of a delicious Cotes du Rhone (probably the one Al was drinking in the other scenario) but as you’ll have guessed, it’s the food that’s diverse. Al is eating the same chicken as before, Bea is relishing a prawn curry, Carl is enjoying a slice of rare roast beef, Dee has decided to pass and Ed has a slice of chocolate cake.

Setting aside the deliberate exaggeration, the first picture is one you might be more likely to encounter in the US, where restaurants have more dynamic wine-by-the-glass programmes; the second reflects the European tradition of diners tending to compromise over which bottle of wine they will all drink with their varied dishes.

My question is “given the fact that you are going to be sitting at these tables with your friends, does one of the scenarios appeal to you more than the other. If so, which would it be? And why?

My own view, for what it’s worth, is that if it’s a dinner with friends, I’d be equally happy with either. And yes, I do have friends who drink Coke with their chicken and wouldn’t mind washing their chocolate cake down with a glass of red.


  1. Most people think about food first when they're eating out so it is a question of finding an accommodating bottle of wine - or couple of bottles. But when you're at home you have far more scope - either being led by the food or the wine you want to serve. Like you I don't have a preference

  2. Rather the first option where I have greater choice on what to drink. As a partner of a vegetarian, my wife is likely to eat foods better suited to white wines (regardless of whether her preference is for red). A greater choice BTG means we can each pair up accordingly without runni got compromise.

    The other things that irks me is presentation of and requests to take drink orders. I want to pair wines that compliment the food and thus will order at the same time as food. Tend to get a glass of bubbles to remove the hover fly/ waiter and buy me some time.

  3. Perhaps this is also a good illustration of that the subject of food and wine matching ("ideal" or not) is an overrated issue?

    Most wine go reasonably well with most food - if that particular combination is what you feel like tonight.


  4. Fiona, Stu, Per.. thank you for your comments.

    1. Sorry I'm so late for the party, got a bit held up. My brother (who likes to do anything as long as it's different) insists on drinking Coca-Cola with almost everything. I'm massive on wine with food but let's face it, practicality demands that (at home) you mostly drink a wine that sort of broadly goes with your food and if there's nothing else left, definitely does n't go. I think it was the great Oz Clarke who said when all's said & done, wine's about enjoying whatever's in your hand. I like that one.