Perfectly Paired Evenings Ahead

September 2009
During a recent weekend in California's Russian River Valley, I was introduced to one of the best books available on wine and food pairing. Perfect Pairings, by master sommelier Evan Goldstein, with recipes by his mother Joyce, a celebrated chef, is a rare combination of elegant yet easy-to-follow recipes coupled with wines. This book's decidedly unpretentious style is also budget-friendly, allowing most anyone to orchestrate a start-to-finish dinner party. Back home in my kitchen, I tested the recipes and found this beautiful progression: Start with baked goat cheese (use Haystack Mountain chèvre) in a walnut crust with greens and apple, partnered with a glass of Merryvale Sauvignon Blanc. Follow this with steak au poivre paired with Chateau Larose-Trintaudon Bourdeaux-style Cabernet. Or, match the succulent soy-ginger-sake-salmon with La Crema Pinot Noir. Finish with an ever-so-light lemon ricotta cake with framboise (raspberry) sauce, a superb match with a Schramsberg sparkling Crémant. Bonus: With nearly 60 recipes, from appetizers to desserts, paired with hundreds of affordable wines, this book is reason enough to start up a wine club.