Dana Cowin is the editor in chief of Food and Wine magazine. Previously, Ms. Cowin served as the executive editor of Mademoiselle, the managing editor of HG Magazine, and associate editor of Vogue. A recent guest judge on Top Chef, she is a member of the board of directors of City Harvest. Cowin received her B.A. from Brown University in 1982, and resides in Manhattan with husband Barclay Palmer, who is a producer at CNN
Question: How do you pair wine with food?
Dana Cowin: My personal view on pairing wine with food is you can drink what you want and eat what you want and I mean there are very very few wine killers, asparagus is a horrible wine killer. So eat the asparagus, eat like a mouthful of potatoes and then drink your wine, but in my view there is probably 10% of perfect wine pairings in the world, 10% tragic wine pairings in the world and there is 80% of ---- you know, that’s pretty good. Not too worried about it. So that’s my overall philosophy. That’s said, there are certain things that are naturally more compelling, pairings that are more compelling. So for example a rule to keep in mind is if you want either contrast the wine with the food. So if you have a really really rich white creamy heavy dish, you are going to want a light sprightly wine. That’s where you contrast. On the other hand you can also do they enhance each other. You take a really heavy dish and you have a really rich wine and they sort of bring out the heaviest and the best in each other. So almost every pairing that you'll ever hear of is going to come down to reduce those two things. I can spin out any number of details, but at the end of the day you either wanted to cut the fattiness, cut the richness or enhance it. So like a huge California cab, you are going to want to have with a steak. Right big with big. You got a huge California cab with a delicate white fish, you wouldn’t taste the fish and it wouldn’t be so nice together. Although that said, there are dishes where you could have a nice meaty fish like a salmon in a syrah sauce and then you can have something that’s heavy with it. So and the same goes with everything if you are having spicy food you can have something that has a little spice too. So it’s all spicy. We will have something that’s going to mellow out the spice. So it’s a little rounder. So keep those two things in mind and you're gonna be fine.
Question: What’s the most unusual wine pairing you’ve ever come up with?
Dana Cowin: The most unusual and then it turns out to me it wasn’t so unusual at all, is champagne with every thing. It turns out that champagne is really one of the greatest pairings in the world. Why? It’s effervescent. So no matter what you are eating. If you are eating something light it’s quite light. If you are eating something heavy, it cuts the richness that those two little principles can work. So having a great champagne of course with an appetizer oh sure that was dessert, but when I was having champagne and roasted chicken that was great.