This post comes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma associate David Mogridge.
The Williams-Sonoma wine team recently sat down with our friend Caroline Styne, partner and sommelier of the Los Angeles restaurants Lucques, AOC and Tavern. Caroline crafts superb wine lists that pair beautifully with chef Suzanne Goin’s menus. We chatted about food, wine and magical pairings that make eating so much more fun.
How do you pair wine with food?
I look at myself as someone who marries food and wine! Like in life, sometimes opposites attract and sometimes you can hardly distinguish one from another. Regardless, the wine and food have to work together in harmony.
What do you look for when selecting wines for your restaurants?
I look for wines with balance, a great mouthfeel, a wine that does not leave you feeling as though you are missing something. I like them to be typical of the varietal and not hidden by oak or too high in alcohol.
What challenges do you encounter when choosing wines for the wine list?
The American palate is still a young one, but it’s changing quickly. My challenge is to educate people about interesting wines from new regions and varietals without presenting something that will not be understood.
Do you have a favorite food and wine pairing?
Moroccan-spiced lamb with a great Syrah or Shiraz. There are some wonderful rich and spicy Syrahs from Copain, Saxon Brown and Araujo that pair wonderfully with the rich, complex and sweet flavors of Moroccan cooking.
What is your favorite way to enjoy wine?
With food and friends.
Do you have a go-to selection of everyday wines?
I love rosés and I drink them all year around. They are so versatile and come in so many forms. I also love French Chardonnays, especially Chablis. It’s crisp and full of minerals; great for pairing or for a glass to sip on its own. Pinot is my go-to red. It tends to be pricier for every day but I just love the grape.
If you had to pick one wine region in the world to get lost in for a few days, which would it be and why?
This is so difficult. I love so many, but I have to say for value and new wines evolving all the time from some exciting new young winemakers, South America would be the place for me.
After a long day at one of your restaurants, how do you like to unwind?
Suzanne and I sit together at the bar with some of the staff in peace and quiet and have a glass of wine and a laugh over the day’s exploits; there is always something to laugh about!
What do you love most about working in the restaurant industry?
The people. You meet so many people, both colleagues and customers. It is like putting on a show every day. Wine always brings such good bonhomie.
What are some of your favorite Williams-Sonoma Wine Club wines?
Copain’s Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble and Syrah Les Voisins, Clouds Rest Pinot Noir and the Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon.
How do you think the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club compares to other wine clubs available in the market?
It is so great to work with a club that really selects great wines at great value. A lot of other wine clubs have so many close-out wines or wines that are created for them.
What do you love about the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club?
All the wines are from unique artisanal producers, and the notes and recipe pairings are fun and amazingly good. The team obviously spends a lot of time and effort making the selections and pairings.
What tips about wine would you offer to people who are just starting to get their palates interested in wine and pairing wine with food?
Be willing to experiment. Try a varietal from different regions and explore. Also smell everything. Learning to appreciate wines is so much more fun if you can pick up and identify all the different flavors. I go around constantly smelling fruit and all kinds of things to remind me of what things actually smell like. Relax and have fun, there are no set rules, and it is always better with friends.
About the author: David Mogridge, from Inventory Management, is responsible for stocking the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club with world-class picks.