Complementary (and unconventional) food-and-beverage pairings

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Chicken wings and… champagne? Try it, says Golf Club’s top chef.

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A great dining experience is more than just good food. It also includes drinks that are just as great.

Additionally, the best meals include food and drink that are expertly paired. Regarding such pairing, he can use one of two methods. Either choose a drink that complements the food with similar flavors, or choose a contrasting drink so that the food draws attention to a particular aspect of the drink and emphasizes its vices. reverse.

Executive Chef Zouhair Bellout of Reynolds Lake Oconee is always striving to create complementary pairings.

“The way I see it,” he says. It should not be one against the other. It should complement what you have to begin with.

“When I think of food and drink pairings, I don’t tend to separate the two,” he continues. “For me, it’s a continuation of culinary development.”

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When Chef Bellout begins creating a dinner menu featuring pairing drinks, he always starts by choosing the contents of the glass. In his view, everything is a logical sequence of events.

“What do you see first when you sit at the table?” he asks. “It’s your drink. You automatically take a sip of your drink before you eat your food. You want to create a dish that follows the first sip perfectly.”

To provide more insight into the successes and unexpected combinations of food and drink pairings, we asked Chef Bellout to work backwards. We presented him with seven different dishes (dishes that already have popular drink pairings, or that have become staples on most clubhouses’ menus) and asked him what would go best with those dishes. Asked for his advice on drinks.

We hope the Bellout Chef’s suggestions below are your first pointers as you explore your food and drink possibilities in the future. But when in doubt, a bottle of Dom Pérignon (or its alternatives) can’t go wrong. “You don’t need a reason to drink champagne,” he affirms Bellout. “And it goes with anything.”

7 Unconventional and delicious! — food and drink pairings


We tend to lean on white wine whenever we eat fish, but Chef Belou pushes back on that idea, especially when salmon is on the menu.

“I’ve always liked the fruitiness of Pinot Noir,” he says. “Salmon has enough fat and the fish’s natural oils stand up to the wine’s character. The two work perfectly together.”

buffalo wings and/or fried chicken

You might be inclined to order a beer the next time you get a plate of chicken wings or a basket of fried chicken, but as long as you’re in the right establishment, try switching beer and ordering a glass. bottle of champagne.

“My favorite thing to pair with fried chicken or chicken wings is champagne,” says Bellout. “The sweetness and bubblyness of the wine act like a palate cleanser before you take a bite, helping to cut through the richness of the food. Together, they create two different mouthfeels.”

bacon cheeseburger

hamburgers and beer. As Forrest Gump once said, they go together like peas and carrots. Not the opinion of Chef Bellout.

“When you think of hamburgers, you automatically think of beer,” he admits. “But with a juicy burger, the juicy zinfandel’s peppery flavor is a perfect pairing with the burger. The zinfandel is also full-bodied and goes well with the smokeyness of the burger and bacon.”


If the raw bar menu catches your eye, you can’t go wrong with a glass of Chablis, especially if you order oysters. . But if you’re in the mood to think outside the box, the 41-year-old chef chooses sparkling wines in a particularly mouthwatering way.

“There are mostly citrus notes in the finish,” he says. It’s like the last squeeze of a lemon. ”

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cheese pizza

Not all cheese pizzas are created equal. Just as the acidity of sauces varies, so does the richness of different cheeses. So, as a rule, Bellout pairs beer (especially lager) with pizza.

“Lagers are mild. .”

chicken caesar salad

With or without chicken, the Caesar salad is a confluence of bold flavors. capers. anchovies. Lemon. Parmesan. A medley like this can make pairing complementary drinks difficult—in Bellout’s opinion, the best choice is a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

“We don’t need wines that are lost when paired with these bold flavors,” he says. “Sauvignon Blanc sharpens [to counter the richness of the dressing], but you also get citrus notes that complement the flavor of the salad. ”


The next time you order a juicy ribeye, T-bone, or filet mignon, Bellout suggests pairing those steaks with bourbon if you’re feeling adventurous. At least 51% corn is consistent with most beef cattle corn-based diets. Also, he says, the oak notes from the barrel nicely complement the subtle char that accompanies the beef flavor.

But when you think of juicy steak, regardless of cut, you think of a bold red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. As Bellout explains, the tannins in the wine help break down steak enzymes.

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