World's Best Sommelier vs. World's Worst Customer
Surf and Turf of Escolar and Kobe Beef
Sohm's Pairing: Aged rum
Pairing Lesson: Very rich savory dishes can work well with a sweet wine or spirit. For example, a well-aged rum has caramelly notes that are delicious with Ripert's extravagant take on surf and turf. Plus, all the alcohol in the rum cuts through the unctuousness of the dish.
Roast Monkfish in Sake Broth
Sohm's Pairing: White Burgundy
Pairing Lesson: With mild fish like monkfish, the sauce or broth can drive the pairing. A luxe white Burgundy (made with Chardonnay) is a great match for the miso-spiked broth here. Sohm also likes red Burgundy with the dish, because it's light- bodied but deeply flavored.
Octopus with Black Bean-Pear Sauce
Sohm's Pairing: Zinfandel or Gewürztraminer
Pairing Lesson: Charred foods with bold sauces are best with aromatic, fruit-forward wines, like Zinfandel or Gewürztraminer. "You need something rich, like these wines, just to stand up to all of those flavors in the food," Sohm says.
Smoked-Salmon Carpaccio with Brioche and Caviar
Sohm's Pairing: Sake
Pairing Lesson: The best wine matches either complement or contrast flavors in the dish. Case in point: sake is delicious with the smoked salmon here because they're both luscious and silky. Sohm also likes serving Champagne as a bright counterpoint to the fish.
Chocolate Pots de Crème with Maple Caramel
Sohm's Pairing: Beer
Pairing Lesson: Wine's acidity can make it tough to pair with chocolate, so consider beer instead. Porters and stouts often have chocolaty undertones, and their effervescence is refreshing with anything creamy. Sohm serves a Trappist beer here, because he likes its slight hoppy bitterness with the salty edge of the pot de crème.