What’s In A Wine Pairing? A Look Into the Ever-Changing World of Wine

For most, drinking wine is nothing more than a passing selection based solely on name or label. For others, selecting a bottle is akin to choosing the perfect tool for the job.

The former will choose the same wine regardless of the meal, with no regard to pairing complementary tones. As with anything, the more you put into it, the more you’re going to get out of it.

Joshua Purdy, Clubhouse/Food and Beverage Manager at Blue Ridge Mountain Club, is a dedicated member of the latter—a firm believer that choosing the perfect wine requires deep understanding of both wine and culinary techniques.

Purdy is more than a casual wine drinker. As a Level 2 sommelier, he’s spent an immense amount of time not only tasting wine but studying growing techniques and learning from vineyard masters. “There is a lot of science that goes into a proper wine pairing. Matching the acidity, body, and complexity of the wine to the dish is very important but keeping people inside or near their comfort zone is just as important. “

Purdy’s goal is to guide members through a new experience with every tasting and meal by designing new pairings that emphasize differences while complementing flavors and stretching the members’ comfort zones. While it’s vital to match a wine to the person and situation, Purdy has his personal go-to. “My favorite blend would be Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre–a blend that is most well known in the Rhone Valley region of France.”

Purdy emphasizes the need to continue learning and exploring. “The world of wine is constantly evolving, and, because of that, books become outdated very quickly.”

Luckily, staying current with new flavors and latest trends doesn’t demand a cross-country jaunt to Napa Valley. Instead, the trip is no further than your backyard. “The wine drinking culture in the High Country is actually pretty eclectic,” Purdy explains of the Blue Ridge wine scene, “but leans a little toward new world wines­­—specifically, Napa Valley Cabernets, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.”

It doesn’t require countless hours poring over vineyard techniques to craft the perfect pairing. The best place to start is with some curiosity and experimentation.