When presented with a wine list at a restaurant, I have historically been the kind of person who hands the document right back to the sommelier with a smile, saying, "Surprise me." I like learning about what's new or unexpected in the world of wine—and I don't usually want the responsibility of trying to match several distinctly different dishes with the right bottle. In this wine issue, we went to several experts to simplify the pairing equation.

In "7 Rules for Perfect Pairing," Senior Editor Ray Isle offers an ideal guide to under­stand­ing wine and food matches, while Test Kitchen Supervisor Marcia Kiesel shares recipes that underscore each of Ray's principles. My favorite: her bison rib eye steaks partnered with a red Burgundy, illustrating the rule "Choose earthy wines with earthy foods." In "A Brilliant Australian Pairing," two Australian food-and-wine superstars give us the lowdown on matching superlative wines (including one of the world's best Ries­lings) and Asian-Med food.

If you enjoy finding out about what's new in the world of wine as much as I do, there's plenty for you in this issue, too. Wine guru Robert M. Parker, Jr., gives his assessment of Paso Robles, in the Central Coast: He believes it's one of the most promising regions in all of California. Jacqueline Friedrich reports on what's happening in Burgundy. Chip Brown fills us in on the trend of "citizen winemaking," explaining how real people (lawyers, surgeons) are creating their own wine—without owning a vineyard or stomping grapes.

We also present the winners of our 10th annual American Wine Awards. As editors Lettie Teague and Ray Isle went through the nominations, I was reminded of how privileged we are today to have access to so much great wine. It certainly is easier to make pairings, now that the wines themselves have gotten so good!

Where I'm Coming From


15 East Had a delightfully elegant meal at this Japanese restaurant from the talented owners of Tocqueville. The beer and sake lists are terrific. Details 15 E. 15th St.; 212-647-0015.

Centro VinotecaThe new restaurant run by Anne Burrell, Mario Batali's able helper on Iron Chef America, is boisterous and fun. I'm going back for the raviolo al'uovo and mortadella pâté. Details 74 Seventh Ave. S.; 212-367-7470.

Tom's Kitchen Experienced the perfect fish-and-chips (a special) and treacle tart with clotted cream at this modest sibling of the fancier Tom Aikens. Details 27 Cale St.; London; 011-44-20-7349-0202.

e-mail me When you are serving wine with a meal, how much do you worry about the perfect pairing?