I was recently eating a lovely dinner at a ‘fine dining’ restaurant. While I realize that most of you would assume (correctly) that my normal idea of a ‘fine dining’ restaurant is an Outback Steak House with clean-ish utensils and slightly unstained pictures of cowboys on the wall, this time it actually WAS a true fine dining restaurant.

Don’t worry. We had a gift certificate.

Anyway, on their menu in can what only be described as a flowery, gothic, annoying script-like font was their suggestion of what wine I should pair with each dish. I find that incredibly presumptuous and completely unnecessary. I don’t want to know what YOU think I should pair with my Beef Medallion a la carte with tiny roasted French-cut potatoes and a battalion-phrased modicum of asparagus spears grown in a tiny garden in Rosemont, California. I don’t care if you think it paired spectacularly (their words, not mine) with a 1975 Red Crystalline Conveyer of Moist Chardonnay (my words, not theirs).

Frankly, every wine I’ve ever had tastes pretty much the same. Sure, some are a little sweeter….some are a little more not sweeter…and that’s pretty much it. Don’t throw words at me like dry, fruity, delightful, bubbly, sparkly, full-bodied, fat, thin, skinny…and please for the love of God don’t make me smell your wine. It smells like…..wine. Period.

What this obviously disturbing incident showed me, however, was that I need to come up with my own pairings for foods. This is what I have intended to do below, so that if you are faced with the task of coming up with a drink when out with friends and faced with one of these foods, you are well-equipped.

My initial pairings:

Food:                    Spaghetti
Pairing:                 Coca Cola

The rich, full-bodied taste of the pasta and the austere, slightly tangy soul of the marinara sauce pair beautifully with the fruity, buttery and velvety feel of the dark, thick soda. Note that this cannot be a Pepsi, a Tab, or any other soft drink….because the taste of the Coca Cola is so atypical to normal sodas that the emotion of the throat-feel brings you to a small gondola in Venice – or at least a replica of one in the hotel in Las Vegas.

Food:                    Chocolate Chip Cookie
Pairing:                 Milk

An ice-cold cup of Skim White Milk serves as the perfect foil for the crunchy, textual experience of the first bite into the creamy dough of the cookie. The less actual chocolate chips the better, as you just need the essence of the chocolate permeating the cookie (Alex – I bet you thought I forgot this, huh?). The thin white liquid lends the acidity and tannins needed as a counterpunch to the bone-crushing sweetness of the cookie, while providing your tongue and cheeks with a point/counterpoint argument to the abrasiveness of the crispy and inky cookie.

Food:                    Any Type of Fish
Pairing:                 Hyper-Sweet Iced Tea

Since the fish itself will be such an astringent and ascorbic overwhelming taste, the necessary pairing with this dish finely prepared by my wife must be a strong hyper-sweet iced tea (such as served by fine dining establishments such as McDonalds and Chick-fil-A). The perceived weight and viscosity of the particular cut of fish must be completely flushed with the fruity, earthy, spicy and delightfully smoky tannins of the sweet iced tea, so that both the aroma and the discrimination of the fish are completely hidden away from any semblance of taste or perception. By cleverly disguising any notice of the fish with this stunning beverage, a happy marriage can be continued even though the spouse has once again served you fish.

So those are my initial pairings which I’m sure will be picked up by multiple media outlets and soon become a staple on most of your finest IHOP menus. I hope that this will be a help to all of you, and I will continue to publish my pairings on my new website that I will announce shortly.

Oh…and my order at the fine dining restaurant?

Wagyu Burger.

I told you it was FINE dining – not just American beef, but I went full Japanese on that sucker.

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