Food and wine pairings: the opinion of an expert at l’Alpage de Porrez
Owner of l’Alpage de Porrez with her husband, Laëtitia is also the sommelier, with an experience forged in renowned restaurants. She selects the best food and wine pairings and advises clients with erudition and passion.
At what point in your sommelier carreer did you learn the art of food and wine pairing?
Laëtitia: “Like any sommelier, I have extensively experimented food and wine pairing in the various restaurants in which I have worked. But where I learned the most in my career, apart from my teachers, was with chef Alain Senderens (Les Trois Dômes in Lyon).
During the tasting of each new dish, I had to find pairings with two or three different wines and an alcohol, even a cocktail, for desserts, which allowed us to collaborate with the mixologists.
I had to explain and argue my choices because on the menu, each dish was automatically offered with a suggestion of pairing with a wine by the glass. We were looking for the “perfect” food and wine pairing!”
Can you give us the basic principles for a successful food and wine pairing?
Laëtitia: “In general, people are most familiar with the classic “horizontal” pairing: we associate a light wine with a light dish; a full-bodied wine with a full-bodied dish; a rustic wine with a rustic dish, a regional wine with a specialty of the region…
In a menu, you also have to pay attention to “vertical” pairing. This consists of harmonizing the wines with the dishes while respecting the rules of progression: white, then rosé, then red; start with a young wine and finish with the oldest while going from the lightest to the most full-bodied.
Then there is the knowledge of the organoleptic characteristics. This means it is first necessary to identify the elements which form the bases of the taste: acid, fatty, salty, sweet, astringent, bitter etc… Then from these elements, it is necessary to test, cross, superimpose, counterbalance, start again… Until you find the right harmony.
To achieve a good pairing, it is necessary to associate the dominant tastes by looking for the same elements in the glass and in the dish. The idea is to embellish and merge the two avoiding one or the other to dominate.
For example: the acidity of the wine is balanced with the fat of the dish, the tannins with the creaminess, the alcohol with the crunchiness and the salivation caused by the texture in the mouth of the ingredients. The bouquet harmonizes with aromatic herbs or spices; residual sugars with the sweetness of the dish; roundness or suppleness with the bitterness, saltiness and acidity of our plate.”
What predominates for you in your development of food and wine pairings?
Laëtitia: ”Above all, it is the pleasure of the customers or the people around me that I want to highlight. You have to try to find out what their tastes are, what they like, what they are used to drinking.
Asking these questions allows us to orient ourselves both for the pairing and for the taste pleasure but also to make them discover a similar wine or from another country or a nearby region.
I’m just opening a parenthesis, but one that is important: apart from the work done with the chef, the glassware also counts a lot in the harmony of food and wine. In addition to the porcelain for our dishes, we have taken great care in choosing our glasses.
There is of course the aesthetic aspect, but also the shape of the glass which is decisive on how the wine will behave. The glass emphasizes the fragrances, elegance and aromatic intensity. Its delicacy makes the tasting more carnal, more refined.”
Can you give some examples of pairings between wines from your cellar and dishes served at l’Alpage de Porrez?
Laëtitia: ”As a starter, with the Beetroot Mirror and crab from Batz-sur-Mer, I would serve a 2017 Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru “Les Grands Champs” from Domaine Dubuet-Monthelle.
With the Galician Beef with Penja – Romanesco juice and helianti puree, it would be an Alión, Tempos Vega Sicilia 2015, from the Alvarez Family.
With the Bresse chicken supreme with black truffle, common parsley and glazed roots, a Ladoix 1er Cru Les Gréchons 2018 from Domaine Chevalier Père et Fils or a Chambolle-Musigny 2017 from Domaine Michel Gros.
With a Skrei in a dry and woody marinade and its subtle tender Agastache broth, I would opt for a Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Sainte-Catherine 2017 from Domaine Weinbach.
For dessert, to go with our Spongy cake with tarragon – apples and caramel with ginger, I’d choose a Malvoisie 2019 from Domaine André and Michel Quénard or an ice cider, frosted apple flavor, from Apple des Cimes.
As for champagne, I suggest it preferably as an aperitif: the bubbles will tickle and excite our taste buds to whet our appetite!”
To discover Laëtitia’s food and wine pairings at the Alpage de Porrez table, it is mandatory to book.