I have heard it said many times, and it may well be your experience: Wine tastes best when it’s consumed in its place of origin.
Italian wines taste best in Italy. German wines taste best in Germany. American wines taste best in America. You get the idea.
As the theory goes, wine evolves in each place it’s made based on the culinary preferences of the inhabitants. In Italy, for example, red wines are dominant, and many believe that’s because so many Italian dishes involve either red meats or red sauces. Over time, grape growers and winemakers adjusted their production to create affinity on the dining room table.
Likewise, in Germany, where lighter fare such as schnitzel is a treasured dish, the wines tend to be lighter in style. You see far more schnitzel-complementary white wines there than red wines.
America? Well, a case could be made on either side of the contention, given the sheer number of wineries and the wide spectrum of regional cuisine. That said, you do see a lot of Zinfandel grown in California’s Central Coast appellation of Paso Robles, not far from the tri-tip capital of the world: Santa Maria. And in Oregon, where Pinot Noir is the star variety, you see a great many restaurants with Pinot-friendly salmon on their menus.
So, is this theory valid? Does wine taste better where it’s made?
Well, I’m going to put the theory to the test this month. After about 20 years of saving up air miles, I have cashed them in and am heading with my fiancée to Spain, Switzerland and Austria. In Barcelona, Engelberg and Vienna, we will drink local wines with local food, recommended by the restaurateurs. And we will take lots of notes so that I may share the results with you in future blogs.
This is one “test” I can’t wait to take.