The most interesting, and arguably easiest way to learn about pairing “Old World” wines with food, is to think about where the wines come from.
To make a long story longer…
Wine in the “Old World” exists for many reasons other than “commerce.” For example:
1: Wine, 2,000, or 1,500, or even 500 years ago, was something to drink that wouldn’t kill you (like the water could).
2: Wine was also a source of calories that could be raised from soils that wouldn’t support other crops; grapes make their best wines in hard, stony soils that couldn’t support, say, wheat, and were unsuitable for pasture.
3: The alcohol in wine also offered a means of preserving those calories for some measure of time, stretching out the fruit of the harvest.
4: The grapes nurtured in any particular place in the “Old World” tended to make wines that “tasted good” with the other foods the local climate, soil types, and culture could provide.
If we look at those four factors together, it’s relatively simple to see why wines in the the Middle Loire Valley in France are delicious with cream and butter sauces, while wines in Provence are better at handling foods laced with olive-oil. Middle Loire wines evolved in a place that wasn’t warm enough for olives, but was just dandy for farming cows for dairy products.
So, our “food pairing” recommendations for “Old World” wines are based first on what foods (pre-supermarkets) would traditionally have been available in the region that produced the wine. Whenever I reach for a bottle, I think about where it came from, the culture, and the agricultural possibilities of that place. It’s hard to go wrong that way.
What to do if you don’t know the local foods of one of these “Old World” regions? Ask someone who knows. That’s our job, and you can always find someone at a Moore Brothers Wine Company store who can help you choose the best foods to pair with our “Old World” wines. A good number of our staff have spent a lot of time “on the ground,” working with our producers.
Also, every wine in the store is available with a full page of anecdotal, historical, and food notes, that’ll help you learn more as you go along. Here’s an example of one of these notes, and we’ll print one out (minus the online videos, of course) for each of the wines you buy.