I haven’t read Evan Goldstein’s first book, Perfect Pairings, and now I know that I’m missing a great book in my library. I’ll have to remedy that.


Because I’ve just finished Evan’s latest book daring pairings, published by UC Press, and now only imagine the great wine and food recommendations that I’ve yet to read.

Evan Goldstein is a Master Sommelier… One of only slightly more than 100 in the United States. Couple that with the fact that Evan’s mother is Joyce Goldstein, the beloved food writer, cookbook author, restaurant/food industry consultant. With the foundation of his formative years being guided by someone so brilliant, Evan was destined for also creating greatness.

[SIDEBAR: In 1996, Joyce Goldstein was responsible for the Gorbachev Foundation dinner for 900 guests, honoring Mikail Gorbachev.]

Other chefs in Evan’s book include Phillipe Jeanty (Bistro Jeanty ~ Napa), Hubert Keller (Fleur de Lys ~ San Francisco), Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s ~ Chicago), Suzanne Goin (Tavern ~ Los Angeles), for example. The list is long and formidable. Get the book for lots more details… You won’t be disappointed.

You may now begin to understand that his daring pairings is a book worth it’s weigh in gold. It really is.

I found this book to be written in a fun and easy style, mirroring Evan’s persona. Evan’s stepped outside of the safe and usual box for this book’s wine recommendations… A few examples are Arneis, Garganega, Torrontes, and Vermentino for whites; and Barbera, Mencia, Petite Sirah (brownie points), and Tempranillo for reds.

Just learning about each new variety takes a bit of bravery, doesn’t it? To step outside of saying, “I’ll have the Chardonnay, please,” means that you’ve segued from wine 101 to wine 102. To say something new and exciting, we first have to get our tongues around Garganega, for example… Not to worry, Evan gives us easy to pronounce keys right under the name of the variety you “dare” to order… “I’ll have the gahr-gah-neh-gah, please.” (You can practice saying it on the way to the wine shop, where it will then just trip off your tongue, unless you’re like me. I’ll still stumble the first time.)

Evan’s “pairings” recipes have been contributed by his favorite chefs… including his mother’s Neapolitan Ragù, with Aglianico as the matching wine. (Imagine growing up with his mother in your kitchen?) Following each recipe, Evan lists reliable producers, whose wines he’s found to be consistently made in styles that are appropriate to each grape variety. He places these wines in three categories of everyday ($5-$15), premium ($16-$39), and splurge ($40+above).”

This pairings part of the book has us bravely understanding how the right food flavors and the right wine chemistry happening inside your mouth is dependent upon finding that perfect balance. This starts with the wine. Evan explains the keys to understanding wine, with five keys:

  1. Acidity
  2. Sweetness
  3. Tannin
  4. Oak
  5. Alcohol

Each key is fully and easily explained. The keys also connects us to which foods will benefit from these varying factors.

After his introduction, we walk into his two worlds of white and red wines, with each section being broken down:

  • The grape’s background
  • Pairing with food
  • Pairing pointers
  • The cheese plate
  • The recipe
  • Recommended producers

Okay… This is the Bible of all Bibles for food and wine pairings for those who dare, from one who dared…

You know I love Evan Goldstein (based on my background with Petite Sirah) for taking on PS in a book that’s a treasure. It makes me realize that I should now develop my own “Daring” list of wine writers who understand this eclectic variety. Topping the list with Evan Goldstein is Mark Oldman, who’s just published Olman’s Brave New World of Wine.

Is it a coincidence that these two accomplished writers and excellent palates have recognized that the unusual varieties provide us with so much more fun and adventure, or is it a sign of the times?

I’m going to give this one to the Millennials, my friends. My generation dared to step outside of the box and switch from Chardonnay to Sauvignon Blanc. It is this new emerging generation that is willing to surpass their parents and really get it on.

Evan Goldstein is part of a movement to delve deeply into the depths of the food and wine experience, in order to delight in the gastronomic and vinous pleasures formerly held only for the gods… I’m raising my glass of the Alentejo’s Touriga Nacional for my love of this Portuguese variety, and the recipe of Grilled Pork Chops with Dried Cherry, Bacon, and Vidalia Onion Conserve by Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill ~ Durham, North Carolina.

This is one book that you won’t be putting down anytime soon… I dragged it across country with me to Maine. Now, I’ll be dragging it around my kitchen, wine shelves, an new Air & Water, Inc. wine cooler. I’m so jazzed…

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