Chef's Corner

Wine Musings: Cabernet may be King, yet Pinot Noir is my Venus


While it’s indeed good to be King, for centuries in France there has been a war of words between Bordeaux (Cabernet and Merlot) and Burgundy (Pinot Noir) over which region makes the best wine. (The answer is: they both do!)

Essentially, any debate over wine preference distills to one’s individual preference for one wine varietal’s flavor profile over another, i. e., Pinot Noir versus Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay versus Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet versus Merlot or Riesling versus Sylvaner. 

While I happily lift any glass of fine vintage Bordeaux to my lips and assiduously savor its nuances, with maturity has come my love for the romantic and finely crafted Pinot Noir.

Interestingly, Pinot Noir is a more sensitive and fragile varietal than Cabernet or Merlot, and delivers more complex wine when grown in cooler climates than do Cabernet and Merlot, both of which absorb easily the higher degree day heat during the growing season.

Whether from France’s Burgundy region, Northern Coastal California, the Willamette Valley of Oregon or Central Otago in New Zealand, my personal taste preference is for Pinot Noir. Why? Well, I’ve discovered that I fall in love much more frequently with what I call “charming” wines - wines that tease and tempt my olfactory sense with a panoply of subtle raspberry, dried rose petal scents and complex lingering perfumes. Moreover, Pinot Noir’s reliable varietal flavor profile is considerably more “high fashion model” reserve than Cabernet’s impressive but obvious palate coating “voluptuous vamp”.

With the exception of steak, whose flavors always marry best with Cabernet, I’ve also learned that I prefer to drink Pinots with an array of different culinary dishes including all of dcuisine’s current menu ofsoups and entrees.

So, were I to speak to Cabernet, the King, I would say: “I respect you for your depth, flavor extracts and longevity of age, but to tell the truth, your highness, I’ve been having more fun savoring my Venus, Pinot Noir!”

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