1/23/2012 03:17:00 PM

Controversial Restaurant Policies: Are Wine Pairings Worth It?

While wine pairings can be a great way to try a bunch of new wines, they can be expensive, and if you get tipsy halfway through the meal, can you really enjoy the food? Take a look at the conversation below where two of our Blog editors argue out the issue, and let us know what you think about shelling out for these pairing menus in the comments:

Kelly: So, I kind of have a problem with these extensive wine pairing dinners. I mean, you can never finish all that wine.

James: Ha - maybe you can't. My problem is that they usually skimp on the pours! I do think they're worth it though. Really adds to the meal.

Kelly: I mean I certainly enjoy a good wine pairing but I think a different wine with every course kind of burns out the palate. I just feel like the pressure to finish the wine to get your money's worth leaves you drunk halfway through the meal. Honestly I don't enjoy my food as much when I'm totally wasted. The tastes are muddied.

James: Well, it's usually pricey, but you're paying for the restaurant's expertise as well as the wine - the sommelier really knows the menu and the pairings go really well with the food. If anything, it should bring out the flavors.

Kelly: Basically what you're saying is you like getting wasted during dinner. In any case, I don't know if it's worth the money.

James: Well, you get to try a lot more than you would if you just burn through a bottle or two during dinner.

Kelly: Perhaps, but normally I'd probably have two glasses with a five course meal. I might be a bit tipsy but certainly not drunk. For me it's not worth the money. But hey, if you have a high tolerance and you're prepared to shell out, I'm not going to stop you!

James: Well, they're definitely not for teetotalers - that's why restaurants that require the entire table to do the tasting menu don't require everyone to do the wine pairings as well - it's really a personal preference.

Kelly: Whatever, lush. We all know what your preference is....

Have something you want to add to this discussion? Chat with your Zagat editors live during our Google Hangout this Thursday, January 26th at 2:30 PM on our Google+ page!


  1. Two comments from above speak to the problem with most wine dinners:

    "a different wine with every course kind of burns out the palate"

    "The tastes are muddied."

    A properly executed wine dinner should not cause either of these things.
    The dinner should progress from light to full body in both wine and food, thereby eliminating a burned out palate.
    Pours, realistically, should be around 2 oz. It's a taste experience not a booze fest.

    The wine and food together will enhance the flavor of both, if properly paired, and not muddy them.

    It shouldn't be about "scores" but about enhancing the dining experience.

  2. The pairings are often not that good.
    We had an awful experience at Testuyas. We were asked if there was anything we didn't like. We said heavily oaked. They produced heavily oaked. But, it wasn't just that. Many of the pairings were not just missing the right pairing, but were actually completely off. A heavy aged Semillion with a Salmon Sous Vide. I had loved the wine the day before at a picnic BBQ, but not with a delicate fall apart salmon.

  3. I don't think the pairings are meant for people who claim a greater expertise than the sommelier. Is it just that I can't hear the vocal nuances, or is the woman in the above article really that unpleasant and rude?

  4. I would also have to mention that in addition to personal experience in these pairings, we the reader are left to judge night or day without considering body mass to intoxication or any other variable.
    I firmly believe, when correct, that a wine pairing can be exceptional. When the other party differ in ideal or budget, no concern, just a different appraoch to the meal.
    As a veteran diner of many genres, my largest concern would be that the concerned New diner read things like this and take one side before experiencing with an open palate.