Food & Wine
October 01, 2009

When it comes to wine, I have so much to learn. Sometimes just knowing what I don’t know is completely daunting, but I power through my anxiety and try to gather as much information as I can. Luckily for me, and for all of us, there are a lot of different ways to gather wine intelligence.

The best way to learn about wine: Drink it. F&W wine editor Ray Isle’s piece on the classics is an excellent place to begin. The 50 bottles he picks are benchmarks for the world’s best regions and grapes, so if you taste them and pay attention to their differences, you’ll have a wonderful education. (Ray will also be teaching in person at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, October 8–11; for information, go to

Then you could move on to learning how to match wine with food. Our story “15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairings” teaches some basic principles. They’ll allow you to go into a restaurant and, without embarrassment, make an assumption about how Cabernet will taste with lamb chops, for instance. (The answer: It will be terrific!)

For more expert advice, assistant editor Megan Krigbaum and her team talked to top sommeliers around the country who are happy to give mini classes to customers. You’ll get a few of their fast lessons in “What Sommeliers Know Best,” with advice on everyday dilemmas like how to chill wine quickly (swirl it in a mix of water, ice and salt) or how to remove a crumbly cork (push it into the bottle, then pour the wine through a coffee filter).

Sometimes, though, I don’t want to think too hard about wine matches and I just want to eat. I loved Paula Wolfert’s incredible recipes in our Master Cook column, a preview of her forthcoming book Clay Pot Cooking. Her superbuttery tarte Tatin was divine. The perfect pairing? I vote for vanilla ice cream.

Where I’m Coming From

Recent Expeditions in Brooklyn, NY:

Roberta’s Pizza
In a moment of gluttony, my friends and I ate pretty much everything on the menu at this hipster hangout in Bushwick. You’ll want the pizzas, but also try the juicy lamb breast.

Prime Meats
This Carroll Gardens restaurant from the team behind Frankie’s Spuntino is an homage to the German restaurants that once dominated the New York City food scene. You must get the pretzel, from an old family recipe, and the weisswurst.

The General Greene
The English cheddar–topped Angus-beef burger at this Fort Greene restaurant stands out even in this burger-centric era.

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