Sommelier software program recommends pairings


The following software is supposed to perfect the art of matching wine and food. The basic idea is simple and similar softwares do exist as do many books on the topic. I actually have a software from a few years back on my Palm Pilot that did the job. If I were to use that software or recommend to anyone, I would say since Wine Wizard is comprehensive, it will guide in the right direction. However, the idea of matching wine and food in a pure sense is another story. The original standard for matching wine and food comes from the Old World. Each region has its own cuisine and the soil, the climate and tradition have established some varietals as standard for each area. Each area (and that does not mean a country but a part of it) has its own traditional cuisine and wines. The same way a cuisine can be unique to a region, the wine can also be. Italians have 5000 names for their grapes and many are duplicates. The same is said of French and Spanish. I think if we look at matching wine and food from this perspective, we can have a unique idea of what it means to match wine and food. Haute cuisine may dictate the matching of the great vintages of the great wines of the great producers of the great regions at any price with the exquisite dishes of sophistication, but such highly skilled matching of the wine and food is esoteric and not a universal standard to copy or make softwares for. The real food and wine matching, as done in the Old World regions, is based on the local cuisine (which depends on the very local ingredients) and the very local wine (which depends on the local agriculture and tradition). The local food and wine are not selected because they are the best of the best in the world. They are what the locals eat and drink. Many of the Loire wines qualify as simple drinking wines but they match the local food and are made in great quantities. Many of the local Italian wines are not worth exporting (or drinking) but are made in huge quantities because they match the local cuisine. The Alsace wines match the local cuisine well and the wines are not that ordinary. The Portugese drink the awful red Vino Verde (not because it is great but) because it is a local wine and matches the local food. These wines and foods do not have to meet any international standards nor aristocratic approval to be considered good matches by millions who consume them. This brings us to the two opposite poles of matching. The person who eats and drinks the stuff has a great deal to do with what a good match is as Mr Kruth says in the article: “Just as much of the wine and food pairing is about the person that’s drinking it.” If we want to make a sophisticated match for aristocratic taste, the following software would be one successful attempt at setting a higher and higher standard (even if at experimental level) comparable to a Master Sommelier. But, if we want to make an ordinary match for everyday person’s taste, the ding dong software (Wine Wizard Version 1.00 by Vin Valet 2001) on my Palm Pilot, or any detailed matching book or even recommendations from anyone who has tasted the wines of our interest would be more than enough. And the only reason we need the latter sources is because what California drinks as far as food and wine is very diverse and traditional guidelines are absent. The gizmo software down below is a step in the right direction if one believes wine is best fit for the kings. It was ceaseless marketing that elevated the status of wine to that of the sublime. Historically, wine has been the peasants’ food! Locally, California has been blessed by a lack of tradition which gives the industry the freedom to define wine to American neophytes as whatever they please. And, let me guess, the good California wine will end up being those with high prices anyway one looks at. And supercomputers are needed to find a match for the local food!


Building it took eight months and the brainpower of math, code and food-and-wine geeks.

The result is a new computer-generated wine pairing service that developers say uses cutting-edge technology to answer an age-old question: What wine to serve with dinner?

We think it’s going to be tremendously helpful for people,” says James Oliver Cury, executive editor of food recipe site, which partnered with wine database Snooth to add the pairing suggestions to thousands of its recipes.

The recommendations are based on an algorithm that involved breaking down the recipes into hundreds of categories, including flavor profiles, ingredients and preparation techniques.

Among other things, the algorithm looks for words in proximity. Boiled beef with baked potatoes is not the same as baked beef with boiled potatoes.

Pairings are listed at the bottom of recipes, along with the price of the wine – the majority under $20. Clicking on photos of the bottle or label brings up reviews and shopping information.

But can an algorithm replace the human touch in the very subjective decision of what wine to have with dinner?

Not really, says master sommelier Geoff Kruth, wine director of the Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. The trouble with software pairings, he says, is that they only factor in the food.

“Just as much of the wine and food pairing is about the person that’s drinking it,” he says.

Snooth CEO Philip James says there was an effort to come up with wines that are widely available. Snooth (the name is derived from a town in the south of England) is an interactive database of wines with more than 500,000 monthly users. Snooth, based in New York, doesn’t sell wine but provides access to a network of more than 11,000 merchants.

Epicurious has more than 25,000 professionally tested recipes as well as 75,000 member-submitted dishes. A recipe for grilled chicken breasts with honeydew salsa, for instance, yielded a dozen wine recommendations, including some rosés and Chardonnays, as well as Grenache, a red wine.

Cury concedes that trying to turn computer code into a connoisseur was daunting.

“It’s hard enough to get wine experts to agree on what one wine or even kind of wine might pair with a particular dish. How are you going to create an automated way to do this for 25,000 recipes?” Cury says. “That was the challenge that Snooth, with our coordination, was able to meet.”

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