Often-controversial wine expert, Tim Hanni, recently spoke in Marlborough on what he has very clearly decreed as being an odd and even unnecessary aspect of the food industry – pairing. Although food and wine pairing is essentially Hanni’s profession – and what caused him to be one of the very first Americans to become a Master of Wine – he was openly critical of the practice:
‘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?’
Hanni was taking shots at the wine industry’s inherent levels of snobbiness and insistence that certain wines should only be drunk in certain culinary circumstances. Hanni’s crusade against many connoisseur’s false sense of superiority has been at the core of his work since his transition from chef to Master of Wine. In fact, his best selling book, Why You Like The Wines You Like: Changing The Way The World Thinks About Wine, argues in favour of the liberty of wine drinking and encourages readers to craft their own palate based on their own preferences – despite what a know-it-all waiter or sommelier might try and impart on them.
‘We need to get over the notion that food and wine grew up together. Food and wine matching is pseudoscience full of metaphors and misunderstandings.’
Although Hanni undoubtedly believes that food and wine pairing will continue into the future, he believes the practice is one that we’ve just made up as we’ve gone along – and the people with the most influence and power have just told us what we should like. If experts expect that wine pairing will boom in China along with other aristocratic Western practices, they’re surely mistaken, says Hanni.