To assist both professionals and novices in pairing food with wines and other beverages, Natalie MacLean, publisher of North America’s largest wine e-newsletter (as well as the website NatalieMacLean.com), now offers the Nat Decants Food & Drink Matcher widget. It’s compatible with multiple platforms, including computer desktops, websites, blogs, and social media such as Facebook, MySpace, and iGoogle; there’s also a smartphone application for iPhone, iPod Touch, or BlackBerry devices.
The software comes in two sizes to fit various Internet and mobile operating systems. Once installed, it can be quickly searched for drinks to pair with meats, pastas, seafood, vegetarian dishes, pizzas, take-out food, sauces, herbs, cheese, and desserts. Working from the other direction, a user can find dishes to go with wine, cocktails, liqueurs, beer, spirits, cider, coffee, tea, and even water.
Installation of the software was a three-click breeze, and I found it easy to use, with a clean, intuitive look and feel. The interface is entirely menu-driven, meaning I couldn’t input any choices other than those provided by MacLean. But the menu was highly inclusive, with literally thousands of places to start. I found the suggested pairings well written and concise; clicking on a match brought up a page from MacLean’s website that provided links to additional resources. My only quibble was that I wasn’t always able to return to the previous page or start a new search.
In addition to the software’s obvious relevance to restaurant wine service, it can be used by bloggers and wine clubs, retail stores, wineries, restaurants, and culinary schools. The widget is a free download available on MacLean’s website.