While food and wine matching is one of the most important roles of the sommelier, Master of Wine Tim Hanni has dismissed the concept as “bullsh*t”.
Speaking at the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Celebration in Marlborough last month, Hanni spoke passionately about the need to completely rethink the concept of food and wine pairing.
“A perfect wine pairing doesn’t exist. We’re doing a lot of damage the way we’re matching wine and categorising it. We need to start a campaign to stop wine and food pairing as we’ve created a lot of bullsh*t around the idea.
“A lot of people enjoy being arrogant about wine and consider entry-level wines as being unsophisticated. We need to educate the trade to better serve the personal interests of wine lovers.
“We need to celebrate the diversity of consumers, not make them feel stupid. You can serve Sauvignon Blanc with steak – why not?”
Echoing Sarah Heller MW’s opinion, Hanni warned that those who believe food and wine pairing has potential in China will be in for an unpleasant surprise.
“Thinking wine and food pairing will work in China will cause one of the biggest disasters in the wine industry we’ve ever seen,” he said.
Hanni also controversially said that France has “no history of food and wine matching” – “we made that up”, he said.
“We need to get over the notion that food and wine grew up together. Food and wine matching is pseudo science full of metaphors and misunderstandings,” he said.
He also pointed out that many of the revered French wines enjoyed today used to taste very different. “Montrachet used to be sweet and Cheval Blanc 1947 has 30g/l of sugar in it.”
With regards to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Hanni stressed the need for the different styles of the variety to be made clearer to consumers to avoid confusion.
“Otherwise it will all become noise and people will go back to beer and cocktails. Riesling has threatened to be the next big thing since the 1960s, but it never happened because there are too many different styles,” Hanni said.