The Process to Understanding Effective Pairings

So what are the steps to learn how to pair?  In future articles, I will explain the steps and then my method for more effective pairings.  Before we get into this, there are a few things that we need to look at to help us understand.

As I would explain to my classes, there are 5 levels to truly understand pairings.  None of them are hard but as we proceed down the list, they get more intensive in information to learn:

  1. Basic Sensory Evaluation techniques.
  2. Understanding the ingredients in a beverage.
  3. Understanding the production methods for creating the beverage.
  4. Understanding any laws that may influence regions (and therefore would influence the final beverage).
  5. And then remembering all of the above while trying to do the same with the food.

Sounds incredibly complex but its actually easier than you think.   I love being a sommelier and being able to understand beverages on another level.  But I also know that about 80% of what we know is background information to help us judge if the something is good ( not flawed so I’ll call it healthy) and typical for the region, producer, laws, etc. and ways to prepare and serve it so its sexy.

My goal is to make it easy for you to understand so you can make some good decisions on what and how to pair. In future articles, I will explain the above 5 levels to you in more detail.  For the moment, please remember this statement :


If you come up with a food item and pair it with something and you love it, then go with it.  I would never tell you that you should not do it or you are wrong.  I might suggest to try some other things but your happiness is key to me.  Nothing is better in this industry is to see someone smile when they are fully enjoying themselves.

So remember:

  • If you like South Carolina Sweet tea (3 gallons of tea with 8 cups of sugar to make pancake syrup) but its not sweet enough so you are going to add 4 packs of sweet and low, go ahead.
  • If you are like me and want to add an ice cube to a red wine that is at 70 degrees sitting on the patio, ignore the looks and go for it.
  • If you like 4 oz. of hot chocolate over your full cup of marshmallows, so be it.

Just enjoy since life is too short.  I’ve seen way to many people judged for not liking what they like. It’s not my job to judge but only serve to make you happy to return in the future.  I’ve seen so many things in my career that I thought was weird but they were happy so it works for me.  One time, I watched this customer take about an oz. of salt….wait, that’s another story. 


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