Category Archive: WINE PAIRINGS

Wine and Art Pairing

Posted on July 30, 2019

I have a show coming up in a few weeks where I pair wine with art.  Several years ago I came up with a method to pairing wine and art.  We can all agree that art triggers emotions in us.  What we do not think about is how wine also triggers our emotions when we smell and taste it.  Aromas are connected to our memories.  Our memories create emotions. Strangely, emotions effect how we taste and perceive the world around us.  When we view a work of art, our brain triggers an emotion. What I try to find is a wine that matches that emotion. The pairing comes when the wine and the art trigger the same emotion, contrast each other in a pleasant way or one enhances the other.

My full theory of art and wine pairing can be viewed via this link: WINE AND ART

The best way to understand it is to put it into action.  Join me on August 11th, at The Prado in Balboa Park 12-3pm.  I will have 18 artists (all employees of the Cohn Restaurant Group) paired with a different wine. You can get tickets at

The following wines will be paired at the event:

Banshee Rose & Pinot Noir, Amayala Torrontes, Colome Malbec, Orin Swift’s Abstract Red, Louis Martini’s Napa Cab, Ramon Bilbao Crianza Rioja, Clos de la Siete Bordeaux Blend, Landmark Chardonnay & Pinot Noir, Daou Cabernet, Domaine Chandon Rose & Brut, Casa Smith Barbera, Campo Viejo Cava & Grenache, Lafite Sparking Rose, Chapelle la Gordone Provence Rose, Pazo Barrantes Albarino, Nielson Pinot Noir and Voveti Prosecco.

Below are bios of the artists who will be exhibiting their art.

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Pairing Wine With Fast Food

Posted on November 20, 2018

Wine & Fast Food Pairing

One afternoon, I left the house with a cooler full of wine and my trusty Coravin and made the rounds throughout all the hip neighborhoods in SD challenged with the task of pairing wine with fast food. Okay, I did not chose actual McDonald’s fast food, why encourage people to eat that with good wine.  Instead I tried the local fast casual spots throughout San Diego. A big thank you to my friends at Skurnik Wines, La Mision Associates, Epic Wine & Spirits, Truly Fine Wines & Domaine Select for hooking up the delicious wines. If you’d like info on where to buy these wines, comment in the comment section below.


Tacos Salud: Taco al Pastor

Tacos Salud

The quintessential taco is the taco al pastor, a Lebanese inspired taco made of slow roasted pig smothered with Guajillo chilies, garlic, Adobo and Chile de Arbol dripping with pig fat. Probably the best taco meat on the planet.  Although I could have chosen carne asada, birria, lengua or any other meat, I had to give al pastor a shot.

My initial instinct was to bring Riesling or rose wine, but I did not want to make this exercise easy on me. Instead I pulled out reds to see if they could stand to the challenge. I looked south of the border for inspiration. I grabbed a bunch of fruity Baja wines to see if I could find the ultimate Taco Wine.  After trial and error I landed on a match, Valmar Red Blend made with Nebbiolo, Syrah, Merlot and Cab Sauv. It was fruit forward and juicy which contrasted the spices of the al pastor. These Baja wines also have a salinity which naturally match the salty al pastor.  The key was keeping it below 14% abv and serving it at a chilled temperature, 56-58 degrees. The chill helps take down the heat of the spices.  By the way, I also had a Gutzler Sylvaner from Germany in my bag, and although it did not perform well with the taco, it was amazing with the Guacamole!


Ambrogio 15: Procuitto y Crudo Burrata Pizza

Ambrogio 15

When I arrived at the food court in Little Italy where Ambrogio 15 is located, I was confronted by the managers, unfortunately I could not bring in my own wine.  No sweat, I ordered from their wine list several glasses of wine I thought might do the trick. I had a Primativo di Mandura, a Fiano Salento, a Rose of Baga, and a Tuscan style red. Surprisingly, none of them really made a great pairing. The closest was the Baga Rose from Portugal, maybe because the acidity paired with the salty prosciutto and the bubbles helped scrub the rich oils of the cheese off the tongue. But it was not perfect. I saved a slice of pizza and took it to my car where I sat on the corner of Fir and Columbia, reached into my bag and grabbed a Vernaccia di Serrapetrona Spumante.  Incredible! This is a sweet red sparkling wine from the Marche region of Italy.  The sweetness contrasts with the salty prosciutto, and the acidity and bubbles match the Burrata’s richness perfectly.  So I recommend ordering take out and popping a bottle of Vernaccia, the pizzas are fantastic!





Hodad’s: Bacon Cheese Burger with the works and a side of Onion Rings


At Hodad’s I was tasked to pair their ultimate bacon burger and onion rings with wine. When gathering wines for this venture, my mind went to Miles of the movie “Sideways” drinking Cheval Blanc with a burger.  So I brought a Merlot and Argentine Malbec with me.  Although both were not bad, the best pairing I came across was with a white wine. I  pulled out a 2007 Nicolas Joly Savenierres from the Loire, it is a Chenin Blanc, aged in oak, made as naturally as one can get.  Drinking it in 2008 would have been a punch to the mouth.  The wine is now in the perfect place.  It is a full bodied white, with slight honey notes, high alcohol and high acidity; how does this even happen?  The sweet honey flavors were glorious with the onion rings, the weight and acidity of the wine matched the massive burger, what a total unexpected trip!  The wine held up, never overpowered by the food and the food never overpowered by the wine.  Who says white wines are for wussies?




Crack Shack: Fried Chicken and biscuits with Miso Butter

The Crack Shack

The chicken at Crack Shack is downright delicious.  It is crunchy, salty and fatty.  They make an array of sauces so each will drastically compromise the pairing.  Naturally, I went to my bag full of high acid whites.  I had an Atalier Albarino, an off dry Scheurebe from the Pflaz, white Burgundy from the Macon and Sparkling Chenin Blanc.  The Albarino was good with the Ranch dressing. The Schreube had some RS which is kind of out of balance justthe chicken, but worked great with spicy sauce.  The White Burgundy clashed, the alcohol was a bit too high and intensified the spiciness.  The best pairing was La Tailleaix Loups Triple Sec Sparkling wine.  This wine is produced dry with zero liqueur de triage, zero dosage and zero liqueur de expedition.  It has aromas of yeast, sourdough and bee pollen.  The acidity was lively cutting through the grease of the fried chicken.  Although the wine was dry, it had this honey flavor which balanced with the peppery flavors of the chicken skin.  The bubbles acted likes scrubs on the tongue, making the next bite a whole new experience again and again.  This goes to prove that one cannot go wrong with high acid bubbles and fried chicken.

Fried Chicken


Jacky Blot


Grand Ole BBQ: Argentinian Sunday Tri Tip and BBQ sauce

Grand Ole BBQ

I showed up at Grand Ole BBQ ready to get my pulled pork on, unfortunately or should I say fortunately, they were doing Churassco Sunday with Argentinian cuts.  I chose to get the Tri Tip and try different BBQ sauces ranging from sweet to spicy.  In my bag I had 6 wines I thought might work.  Aussie Shiraz, South African Red blends, Portuguese reds and I threw in a wine from Lebanon for the heck of it.  My bet was on the Portuguese reds.  All six wines would have done just fine if I was eating the Tri Tip, but the BBQ sauce is the ringer.  The Casa Ferreirinha Douro “Papa Figos” Red was fantastic with pruned fruits, dry and tannic mouthfeel.  It matched the sweet BBQ sauce but clashed with the spicy sauce.  The other wines all clashed with the sauces, until I got to the dark horse, Hochar Red Blend by Chateau Musar of Lebanon.  This wine was super earthy, funky, and totally dry.  My intention was to match BBQ with fruit forward styles similar to Zinfandel. What I noticed was that once the wine got over 13.5% abv, it would clash with the spicy sauce.  The Hochar at 13% was incredible.  It was tart on the palate which contrasted very pleasantly with the spices.  The cedar, leather and other tertiary aromas melded perfectly with the spices in both sauces.  Neither the wine nor the food were ever overpowered by one or the other.  They key again, was alcohol, keep it down and if the wine has good tannin and acid structure then it will prevail.

Tri Tip



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Corks and Canvas: An Experiment in Pairing Wine with Art

Posted on August 28, 2014

corks and canvas
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Several years ago, when I started this blog I wanted to pair wine with the world around us.  I figured I could pair wine with just about anything.  For the longest time I was pairing wine with music.  I had ideas to pair wine with cars (which I did with Lexus and Champagne), wine with dead celebrities and wine with art.  When I took my new job as beverage director for the Cohn Restaurant Group, my blogging time became much more limited and many if these concepts got put on the back burner.  However, two years before, I hosted several art shows where I experimented in pairing wine with art.

Pairing wine with art was very different from pairing wine with music.  The reason being, I actually had artists showing their work and pouring the wine I paired with their pieces.  As with music, I would drink a bottle of wine and find the right songs that paired with it.  It would be up to the readers of the blog to take my word for it.  This experiment, pairing wine with art really took off.  People enjoyed walking around and visiting with the artists and trying the wines.

Galleries always serve wine during shows, but very few actually think about what they are serving.  I wanted to take it to the next level and make sure that each wine paired with the art they were viewing.  Thus I created Corks and Canvas.  What also makes Corks and Canvas unique is that all the artists work within the restaurant industry.  They are all employees of the Cohn Restaurant Group.  I remember when I was in art school, I would paint by day and work by night.  The most difficult part was finding an outlet to show my work.  I sympathize with our employees, they work long hours in a demanding industry and then have to save enough energy to create.  Worse is that after hours of working and creating they need to find an outlet to show their work.  I figured why not combine the two.  Give our employees an outlet to show their work and support them on their creative endeavors.

The art show also becomes a wine sale, all the wines are available to buy along with the art.  So if you buy a painting you might as well by the wine so you can enjoy the pairing in the comfort of your own home.  Many times people could not buy both, so instead they bought the wine which would remind them later of the painting.

Now, there is a process behind pairing wine with art.  I wrote a pretty detailed description awhile back ago, it was one of my first posts.  During the show I will project slides on how to pair wine with art on a large video wall.  This is a one of a kind event. You get to learn about pairing wine with art, enjoy seeing art and taste wines before you buy.  Hors d’oeuvre will also be served.

Here is a brief bio of all the artists presenting.

NIcholas Roth Artist Bios 20142 Artist Bios 20143 Artist Bios 20144 Artist Bios 20145
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Pairing Champagne and Lexus

Posted on December 4, 2013

On December 11th I will be back at it again, making outrageous wine pairings.  I will attempt to pair Champagne and Lexus sports cars.  I don’t want to hear anything about drinking and driving, that is not what I am condoning.  Let’s get off our PC high horse, we all know drinking and driving is wrong.  I am a conceptual artist so let me have some fun. (In moderation of course).

The idea first came to me when my good friend, the wine buyer at Vintana of Escondido, Sheehan McCoy came to me and said he wanted to have a Champagne event inside the Lexus dealership which share the building with Vintana.  Those that know me, know that I could not resist another attempt to demystify wine.  I thought Sheehan’s idea was great.  So expounded on it and paired each car with a particular champagne. Because tasting wine and seeing cars is not enough for me, I had to put together a short video which walks you through the pairing.

What it all really comes down to is that the Lexus IS and the Lexus LFA Super car are down right sexy cars. The only wine that can really pair with these cars is Champagne.  They share many things in common.  Lexus and Sparkling wine are the creations of great minds.  Both will stand the test of time.  Both are sleek, classy and are exhilarating.  The Lexus IS F Sport is the more affordable of the two cars.  It has power and performance which needs a sparkling wine that is affordable but over delivers.  I paired it with Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee, a creamy sparkling wine with great acidity.  The LFA Super car is rare and in a completely different class.  This car was meant for the race track.  See this car turn the corner down your street and heads will be turning.  There is the white LFA inthe show room which I paired with the elegant, refined Ruinart blanc the blanc.  The black LFA looks more serious so I paired it with one of the world’s leading Champagne’s Moet n Chandon Imperial Rose.  This wine is much more serious, fuller bodied with structure only Pinot Noir could give.

It gives me goose bumps the size of Champagne bubbles when I hear the roar and hum of the engine.  Any person arriving to a party in either of these cars deserves to be given a glass of Champagne when walking in the door.  These cars are supreme and deserve a supreme wine, you cannot get more supreme than Champagne.  Champagne and Lexus are meant for each other.  If I have not proved it yet, then maybe this will blow your mind.  The first Lexus commercial in America was a Lexus with a stack of Champagne glasses on its hood showing how smooth the engine ran.  Bam!  There you go, Champagne with Lexus the perfect pairing.

If you would like to attend the event on Wednesday December 11th you can buy tickets here:
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Champagne and Lexus

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Food and Wine Pairing: Weight, Bridge & Volume

Posted on July 5, 2013


A few weeks ago a good friend of mine, Aaron Epstein of Le Metro asked me to contribute to his newsletter with an approach to pairing food and wine.  Le Metro is a new wine club for the hip and cool kids in wine.  Aaron looks for wines that are hard to find and presents them in an underground newsletter, Le Metro.  When he told me that his July newsletter was the “dark side of Sancerre” I was excited to jump in and help.   The Le Metro newsletter is just down right cool!  The design is chic yet urban.  The wines are wines that I enjoy drinking.  And the writing, well, a lot better than mine.

My task was to taste through the Sancerres presented in the newsletter and offer a food pairing for each wine.  Aaron wanted it to be simple, straight to the point and visual.  That  was easy for me to do.  I hate over complicating wine.  We tasted two whites (Sauvignon blanc), two roses (Pinot Noir) and two reds (Pinot Noir).  My approach to pairing these wines was based on Weight, Bridge and Volume.

Weight pumping_iron

Weight is directly correlated to the weight of the protein and the body of the wine.  Let’s take white fish filet, this is a protein of a light weight.  When pairing a wine, you need to choose a light bodied wine, usually a white, such as Sancerre or Riesling.  Reds with a lower alcohol have a lower weight, such as French Burgundy or Sancerre Rouge might also work with white fish (reds work with fish if the Bridge allows for it).  A dish of a heavy weight would be red meat such as Ribeye or New York steak.  These proteins demand a full-bodied wines, typically wines with a higher alcohol such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.  Sancerre would just get lost, the weight of the protein is over powering, like walking on stilts made of crystal. (more…)

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