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Wine and "Molecular Gastronomy"

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First off, thanks for taking time from your very busy schedule to answer our questions and brighten our days. I am also quite glad to see your book is about food, family and children, a topic both of abstract and personal interest. I have heard that your restaurant is quite welcoming to children and greatly look forward to dining there with our 3.5 yr old when we visit the UK in the spring.

My main question is about how you interact with wine (and other alcoholic beverages) both in the practical world of service at your restaurant and when you conceptualize dishes and flavours. Is it difficult to create wine suggestions for diners due to the specific interactions of disparate flavors in your dishes as wine (or alcohol) might ruin the relationship? Is wine perhaps not the best beverage for many of the dishes?

On the more theoretical level, do the complex flavours (created by so few ingredients) of wines ever inspire you? Do you ever take a wine, particularly a difficult or complex one, and use it as the inspiration for creating the flavours of a dish? Have you worked with the flavour chemistry of other beverages like scotch or beer?



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We are still looking at wine and food combinations and this is an area that requires an awfull amount of work still to be done on it.

Over the past couple of years of carrying out wine and food pairings, a pattern was emerging. Interestingly enough, it was a pretty basic one; the strongest dishes seemed to go with the most complex wines.

Ok, so this is not exactly a groundbreaking finding and although pretty interesting, does not at all go along with the current line of tinking of The Fat Duck.

I had been thinking for a while now; if a red wine smells, for example of blackcurrant, it is not blackcurrants making that aroma but a compound or collection of compounds that make up this aroma that also exist in blackcurrants.

If we can then analyse those flavour molecules and see what else they exist in, perhaps we can emerge with some great wine and food pairings.

This theory is still an embryo in my mind but I do think that there is a potential here for a new approach to wine and food pairings; watch this space!

Wine has often been the catalyst for a dish. For example, we have a dish combining scallops with caramelised cauliflower puree, cep and sherry jelly.

The sherry jelly was in fact the origin of that dish. Every other element stemmed from the sherry jelly.

We are currently putting a few wines through the mass specrometer to do a sniff test and analysis on the wine. This why we can look at possible combinations.

I haven't done any work yet with beer or scotch but give me a year and I am sure that I could do quite a bit of research on these!

On the whole though, it is not wine that I find difficult to pair food with but certain foods with wine. Soft-boiled egg yolks are an absolute killer as the runny yolk completely coats the mouth accentuating the acidity tremendously.

On a final note, I am completely amazed how a wine maker can turn out unbelievable results from just a bunch of grapes!

Heston Blumenthal

The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck website

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