Courtesy of QuitWINEing.com
Anyone can pair wine with foie gras or caviar. But what about Hot Pockets? Or a Big Mac? What wine goes best then? Local blogger Courtney Rich has the right bottle for those and more.
For the past year and a half, Rich’s site QuitWINEing.com has taken everyday foods—from Chinese egg rolls to red velvet cake—and matched them up with the stellar wines she comes across via her day job as a wine manager for a Strip property.
Certified by the International Sommeliers Guild and Quarter Masters, Rich has a well-trained palate that has been exposing readers to the nuances of vintages usually reserved for gourmet ingredients, but in a more accessible manner. Coming from a household that wasn’t big into wine (“The most we had in our house was jug wine,” she admits) probably works to Rich’s advantage. Rather than being committed to preconceived notions of what wine can and cannot go with, Rich “wanted to make [people] comfortable and make them feel like, OK, although it is a serious subject, you can have fun and experiment.”
The blog has turned out to be a success for her, and almost therapeutic. Rich plans out the food and wine pairings, gets her own costumes, props and bottles together, and goes into the studio where a photographer friend, Jared McMillan, captures her enacting silly scenes.
When it comes to the entries, QuitWINEing reveals a side of Rich that is nostalgic and often funny. “All the stories come naturally,” she says. “I never walk into it thinking I’m going to be sentimental for this particular pairing or funny for another. I let my feelings guide me, whether it was something that was evoked during the sampling of the food and wine, or when I sit down to write the post.”
Her debut entry was the Big Mac, which surprisingly ended up being devoured with riesling. She discusses her holiday naughty-and-nice list in terms of potatoes au gratin and Chianti. And then there’s the post about blueberry pancakes and brachetto, in which she talks about her love for not only wine paired with sweet things, but for her grandmother.
“Reading this post still brings tears to my eyes,” she says. “The early years of my life were like a roller-coaster ride. Just when I thought I was going in one direction, we took a sudden turn in another direction. My grandmother was my safe haven. I wanted to honor her and express my gratitude. As I sat on her lap that day in the studio, we both teared up. Not only was I afraid of being too big and hurting her, it also brought us back to that place when I was her ‘special girl.’ It was truly a beautiful moment.”
Rich recently launched a new section on her site called Occasional WINEing. Instead of pairing dishes with wine, she’s taken the liberty of selecting which is best to drink for a bubble bath or stalking an ex on Facebook.
“I love wine with all my heart,” Rich says, evidenced by the fact her eyes light up whenever she speaks about it. Ultimately, the blog is for her and other people’s pleasure, not about making money or how many people she has following her. “I care more about having an experience with you, not about the number of hits my site gets this month. If you are having fun and I am putting out quality work that only two people enjoy—that is fine.”
Big Mac with Off-Dry Riesling
“I normally sample all the pairings with a group of two to eight people so that I can see how other peoples’ palates react to the pairing. I actually tried gewurztraminer, Beaujolais and cab (sauvignon) with the Big Mac in addition to riesling. Riesling was the clear winner.”
Cap ’N Crunch with Mamertino Frizzante Chardonnay
“The Mamertino frizzante chardonnay was the clear winner in terms of the two particular producers I had chosen that day. When pairing wine and food together you have one of three outcomes: the wine outshines the food, the food outshines the wine, or they make each other better. And this was clearly a case of the latter.”
Bubble Bath and a Sugar Factory Couture Pop with Fresita Sparkling Wine
“I’m talking about bubbles with bubbly! It’s a delicious blend of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc combined with fresh strawberries from Patagonia. And finally, pull out that bedazzled lollipop your friends bought you for your birthday, and take pleasure in yet another perfect pairing.”
Potato Salad with 2009 Dr. Loosen Red Slate Dry Riesling
“In this post I discuss pairing both a dry and off-dry riesling with the dish. I haven’t sampled potato salad with any other wines since, but I sense there may be other wine options out there that I’d like to explore. White Burgundy or New Zealand sauvignon blanc are two I would definitely want to try.”
Tuna Salad Sandwich with 2008 Bridesmaid White Blend
“Although [this] sauvignon blanc and semillon blend sounded like a great idea, I wasn’t 100 percent sold on the pairing. We also tried verdejo, a Spanish white. I would probably try a white with a little more acidity like Vouvray or New Zealand sauvignon blanc or even possibly a sparkling rosé today.”
Chicken and Waffles with Off-Dry Prosecco
“We also tried a French chardonnay, but the wine lacked the sugar needed to stand up to the maple syrup and the bright acidity necessary to cut through the grease. If I was to try this pairing again today, I’d have to sample it with Sauternes, [which is] ridiculous with fried chicken. And since it is syrupy rich and sweet, I think it will fare nicely.”