Andrew Lampasone is the proprietor of Wine Watch -- a boutique wine shop in Fort Lauderdale with a selection of more than 3,000 wines.
On September 16, Lampasone will partner with New Times for the second year in a row to present Pairings -- an event in which participants go from booth to booth sampling gourmet food and drinks from South Florida's best restaurants. Lampasone is the beverage expert who has chosen the perfect beer, wine, or cocktail to pair with each dish.
Lampasone has owned his highly acclaimed wine boutique for 12 years and travels the world honing his skills. In this interview, he gives us some basic pointers on buying and pairing wines as well as a little insight into what we can expect to see at the event on the 16th.
New Times: How did you get your start in the wine business?
Lampasone: I started in the restaurant business, and while I was working at Cafe
Maxx, I met the then-owner of Wine Watch. We became friends, and I bought
the business from him 12 years ago.
Do you have any favorite wines?
over 3,000 wines in our selection, I like to try different wines. My
wife is an avid cook -- she handles a lot of our catering -- so I
usually bring a bottle of wine home for dinner every night. They do say
you should have between three and five glasses of wine a day.
Three to five glasses a day? That sounds like a lot!
there are health benefits to the antioxidants. You figure a glass or
two at lunch and then the same for dinner. Besides, they say it's
better to drink red wine regularly than if you just have a glass or two
here and there. Consistency is key.
Are there any rules of thumb that you can recommend we follow when pairing wines with food?
always tell my customers to think about what kind of food you are
making. If you are making an Italian dish, look at Italian wines. But
more importantly, look at the flavors of the dish to see how the wine
would pair with them. For example, if you are preparing a salmon with a
beurre blanc, then a Sauvignon Blanc will pair well, while that same
salmon in a spicy tomato sauce would be better with a more robust pinot noir that can stand up to the dish.
A lot of wines are now using screw caps. What are your thoughts on that?
A lot of good wines use the screw caps, and if it will be consumed in short order, then it's great. There is less bottle variation with the screw caps and no TCA problem with the cork. I am not a huge fan of the composite corks, though. And if you have a wine that you are going to hold onto, a cork is still the best option.
Prosecco has recently seen an increase in popularity. What are some good ways to pair prosecco?
Prosecco is a light, simple sparkling wine that is popular because it's affordable and inoffensive to diners. It's something you would serve before dinner with some light appetizers or mix into a Bellini.
What is a good predinner wine to serve if you are having guests over?
Chardonnay is always a good cocktail-hour wine. The oak is sometimes too strong for food but can do very well on its own. I am also a fan of champagne to get the appetite going. Remember to always drink the good stuff first! Alcohol skews the senses, so pouring your best wine at the end of the night would be a mistake.
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What are some unique pairings you can recommend?
Shiraz and foie gras is an unexpected but great pairing. The full-bodied and fruity wine goes really well with the richness of the foie gras. When in Arcachon, a region in France known for its oysters, they served them with Sauterne. It was great.
Wine and cheese is a very traditional pairing. Do you have any tips for us?
Definitely. With a hard, salty cheese, you should serve a drier wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, while a lighter, smoother cheese like a goat cheese calls for a wine with some acidity, like a Riesling. A key thing to remember is that you don't want food that is sweeter than the wine.
Tomorrow, we'll share some of the surprises Lampasone has in store for our Pairings event later this month.