It is one of my favourite riddles in the delicious world of food and wine: which came first – the wine or the food? In Muscadet country by the bracing Atlantic, did we first cultivate the vines of what came to be known as Melon de Bourgogne, and then find that the local oysters slipped down one’s gullet all the better with a glassful of local glouglou? Or were the Nantais seasoned seafood fans before someone thought to provide them with a wine which had just the right dryness and tang of salinity to complement?
In the hills of Piemonte, where the nebbia is thick in November and the Nebbiolo only fractionally thinner, were people seeking and eating the famous truffles for centuries, before someone had the bright idea of pairing them with a large bicchiere of Barolo? And is there something deep in the very soil which both come from which brings to their pairing such a natural, beautiful synergy?
In many places, especially in Mediterranean cultures, wine is not “drinking”, but a part of the meal; as essential an ingredient as tomatoes, or salt. And so often, sitting down in the place where a wine is produced, the winemaker will offer up a plate of a local foodstuff that is *the* perfect accompaniment to his wine, and gives as much context to it as the fabled ‘stroll through the vineyard.’