Natalie MacLean didn’t start out with a love of wine. Meals with her husband, who enjoyed having a bottle of wine with dinner, are where MacLean first discovered wine.
“I always say that I didn’t start drinking until I met my husband,” said MacLean. “And now that I am writing about wine for a living, I don’t have a reason to stop.”
Editor of a free wine newsletter at www.nataliemaclean.com, MacLean took her love of wine and turned it into a career. Starting off by writing about wine on the Internet, she was picked up by a local food magazine who gave her a regular column.
Her vacations turned into wine-country adventures as her love of wine grew, and the thought of getting paid to write about wine became less and less outrageous.
“With my first glass of wine, I thought, ‘This tastes and smells so amazing. I want to learn how to talk about it,’” MacLean said. “Even now, I still describe myself as an enthusiastic amateur, not an expert. I don’t want to preach about wine, I just want to share what I know.”
Check out Natalie’s suggestions for pairing wine and food this Valentine’s Day.
Steak goes well with a big, hefty red wine. The protein in the meat will “marry,” or mix with the tannins in the wine and it will make the wine and steak taste richer. Her suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon
Chicken is a chameleon dish, and how to match wine with it depends on how it is prepared. Chicken goes well with a lot of white wine, and you can’t go wrong with a nice chardonnay or a pinot grigio. Her suggestion: California Chardonnay
When you have fish, you are dealing with iodine. Even though some foods break the “wine” rules, fish is usually not one of them. For most fish, you need a crisp, light wine. Salmon or tuna, however, are meaty dishes, and with that you could use a pinot noir. Her suggestion: New York Riesling
Pasta is usually just a vehicle for sauce. If you are eating pasta with a regular tomato sauce, you want a wine to bring out the red-fruit flavors, like nice Chianti. In a situation like this, you can’t go wrong with matching food and wine that both come from the same region. Her suggestion: Chianti
Pork is a meaty dish, and if it’s served with a honey-glaze or a sweet sauce, you want dry white wine or a pinot noir to bring out the fruit flavors that will complement the sweetness of the sauce. Her suggestion: California Zinfandel
Wine and aphrodisiacs
* Asparagus + New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Green foods demand to be paired with green, herbal wines to match the aromas in the wine to the food on the plate.
* Fresh Fruit + New York Ice Wine: You want a wine to match the sweet, acidic flavors of the fresh fruit you are preparing.
* Truffles + Pinot Noir: You need a feral wine to compliment the earthy, wild flavors of this fungi.
* Figs, pomegranates + Vintage / Tawny Port: Both of these foods crave a nice port wine to fortify their flavors.
* Honey + Tokaji Hungarian dessert wine: This sweet dessert wine, with it’s honey and citrus flavors will compliment the honey in any dish perfectly.