Pairing Wine and Food: What You Can Learn From the Experts

Paul Mathew Wine Tips for Food and Wine Pairing

The relationship between wine and food is an intrinsic one. Those who understand it well will tell you that when you pair good food and good wine together, you have a combination that’s stronger than its parts would be separately. Great wine can complement great food (and vice versa), which is why so many wineries are starting to work with local farmers markets and restaurants to offer packages to their customers.

Barb and Mat Gustafson of Paul Mathew Vineyards in Forestville, California know a lot about the importance of those good pairings – and are working to promote awareness about the importance of good food to improve your drinking experience.

Q: Can you tell our readers a bit about your (and your husband’s) work with Paul Mathew Vineyards? What’s your background and how did you get involved with the vineyard?

Barb Gustafson: Both Mat and I were Sommeliers, as well as restaurant managers during our 20’s and 30’s, never swaying from the industry with a passion for food and wine. Mat started Paul Mathew in 1999 due to his desire to make wine. He felt he knew every other aspect of the wine Industry. We met in 2004 at a wine event and less than a year later, we were engaged. I am now responsible for sales and marketing while Mat makes the wine, oversees the farming and keeps track of our business finances

Q: What do you think makes the connection between food and wine so important?

BG: When you experience great food pairings and enjoy both food and wine, you realize the experience can be so heightened by the right pairing. A lot of restaurant experiences, as well as tasting a lot of wines from around the world, assist in the process. Understanding how and why things work is also very important. A lot of people don’t have clear flavor distinctions or wide range of flavor interests, so it’s hard for them to get it. The best thing to get one started is to dine at restaurants with Sommeliers and get them to pair for you.

Q: Can you talk about your foodie seminars and what they are all about? What do they focus on and what are your goals for the seminars?

BG: We have focused on all local products from Liberty Farms Duck, Hog Island Oysters, the local cheeses, Local Dungeness Crab. We do multiple preparations with the product and set up a lineup of four glasses with different wines. Each guest tastes each food pairing with each wine. We take a consensus of what’s favorite. It helps people see the differences for themselves.

Q: You have recently started doing attending a mini farmers market, where you work with food vendors with your wines. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

BG: We did our trial run in January with two food vendors and two artisans. It was fun, interactive and people learned on their own what they liked. That is really the idea of everything we do. We do not tell you what works, we let you taste it.

Q: How do your mushroom hunting trips work and what’s the main goal of

BG: We do a Mushroom Foray once a year for our Wine Club, although we forage mushrooms all fall and winter. The group is lead by a well-known local mycologist, David Campbell. We meet at a friend’s property that is a seasonal bed and breakfast on 20 acres in Cazadero. He closes his property to the public for this one day event. Everyone heads out for a hike with options of staying close to David to listen and ask questions or scour the land and bring everything back to discuss. We have a two-hour time frame to return. People return as they please with arms full of mushrooms or they’re wet, cold, tired or thirsty.

We discuss what was discovered and then sit down for a hearty lunch enhanced by local mushrooms (all paired with Paul Mathew wines!).

Diana Bocco is a writer and author who writes for Yahoo!, the Discovery Channel website, Marie Claire, Poplar Mechanics, and more. You can find more about her work on her website dianabocco.com.

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