“Our cuisine is from a chef who is half Chinese, half Filipino, from New Jersey, and classically French-trained in San Francisco,” says sommelier Jared Hooper of Faith & Flower in L.A. “So, I spend my days searching for wines that can go with pretty much everything.” That includes dishes as varied as pho and duck confit, including the restaurant's famous kimchi deviled eggs.
“In some ways it’s challenging, but you have to let go a little and just shoot for wines that are versatile,” he says, adding, “It’s not going to be about perfect pairings all the time.”
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What qualities does Hooper look for in a wine that make it versatile? “Acidity, balance, and minerality for starters,” he says. “I’m looking for wines that are not overtly oaky, because you can have something like a Napa Cab that turns into a steamroller and just flattens out the food.” He also turns toward wines with bright, delicate fruit. “That’s one of the reasons that Gamay is my go-to,” he says. For whites? “I typically aim for something that has the weight of a Sauvignon Blanc,” he says, “so I play around with a lot of Chenin, a lot of Grüner, and certain styles of white Burgundy. If it’s crisp, then it can go with so many things.”