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    Blog

    Wine meets food: The spice cabinet toolbox

    Wine meets food: The spice cabinet toolbox

    The best thing about studying wine is the moments that call into question every “truth” you think you know. These are the tiny lightbulbs that impel questions to be asked, that engender reflection and that ultimately serve as the springboard to a deeper understanding of wine. It is often the interaction of wine and food that delivers these teachable moments for me—when I am relaxed, not hurried, and free to ponder at will. This series of blog posts shares my memorable discoveries about what happens when wine meets food. When my day is finished, my evening ritual is to make a cup of tea. I recently ran out of my favorite pre-made loose-leaf tea blend, and decided I’d stock up on the ingredients and put it together myself.

    This series of blog posts shares my memorable discoveries about what happens when wine meets food. Read part 1 and part 3.

    Lavender is one of the components and I quickly realized the joy of unscrewing the jar lid to a burst of its lovely perfume…

    The scent of lavender is ubiquitous. You can find it in soap, candles, sachets and even chocolate! Everybody knows what it smells like, right? I thought I did too, until I started smelling the real thing on a daily basis.

    In the beginning, I regarded the agreeable waft of lavender as pleasing but not noteworthy—I simply didn’t think about it. But my subconscious mind was not so dismissive.

    After a few weeks of mindlessly mixing my herbs, I stopped suddenly after opening the lavender jar and inhaled deeply. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “lavender smells way more herbaceous than I ever realized.” My next sniff took me past the nice floral top-notes and right into a mix of wild, green and even animal tones. Then I had an “aha” moment.

    I consciously realized that I had smelled this mixture of aromas in red wines. This, not the simple, sweet floral scent of my dishwashing soap, was wine’s lavender.

    Deciphering the multitude of aromas that can arise from a wine glass is difficult and it is a learned skill. Most people must work at it.

    One of the best ways to hone these skills is to sniff your way through your spice cabinet. However, repetition is key. What you recognize on your hundredth sniff will be much different than what you gleaned on your first.

    Sometimes in order to tune in, you must first, tune out.

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    Kirra Barnes

    BY Kirra Barnes

    Wine educator, writer and editorial assistant for the Wine Scholar Guild.

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