How About Diet Coke with Your Gourmet Dish? (Reflection #17)


I saw a prominent blog post about a sacrilegious act of drinking diet coke with a divine dish. The controversy is obvious but I had to defend the choice also because the idea of a companion drink is to complement the food in as many ways as possible. Diet soda is a poor excuse of a suitable drink on many levels but does have one quality! It has bubbles. Bubbles are what Champagne has and Champagne is one fine drink that is worthy of matching any kind of food. I have always suspected the presence of bubbles has something to do with how the palate perceives the flavors and both the poor taste of the drink and the food become tolerable. The opposite can also be true. I think cans of soda should be given a second chance as real and worthy drinks. Personally, I once thought of banning the soda gun for the dining room at the restaurant I worked as a manager. Who wants to go to a fine dining restaurant which happens to be in San Francisco Financial District and therefore has busy lunch but few alcohol drinking clients and is famous for its New York steak with Pepsi Cola? I thought any kind of bottled soda drink that was very good in quality would fit the bill. Nobody would doubt the quality at this restaurant if the lunch menu was not matched to alcohol but to some fine quality soda. That would be understandable especially since matching food and beverage is still a bogus art and many more cheat than follow any legitimate rules. The main problem remains that most sodas no matter how high quality lack bubbles. A flat drink is experienced thoroughly on the palate and unless the soda really matches the food, the clash would be obvious. I left the problem at that but the possibility remains that food events that are hostile to alcohol justify and welcome non-alcoholic drinks that can do the job. Diet coke is a base drink for many people (and I drink it all the time) but still has the darn bubbles that make it pass the practicality test. The matching of food and non-alcohol beverage deserves some attention by you the food and wine professionals who read this.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.


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