Food and wine pairing has been around for centuries. It is often a complex and too often stressed about. And, it is a highly debated topic. While there are specific techniques and rules for properly pairing food with wine, it is also about personal taste.
Pairing is a funny thing, because every dish will have more than one component. For example, a chicken dish is not just a chicken dish. It is a chicken dish with a variety of herbs or spices, and served with a side dish which will also have its own set of flavors.
So how do you know what works together? When you are sick you go to the doctor. And when you need help selecting wine, you ask a sommelier. Becoming a sommelier requires rigorous study, both mentally and physically, and years of industry experience. With less than 150 sommeliers in the United States, finding a certified sommelier may be a bit tricky.
If you eat at The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey in Cottleville you are in luck. Josh French, General Manager and newly certified Introductory Sommelier, will help you choose the perfect wine to accompany your meal. While each entrée on the menu has a recommended wine, French “enjoys talking with customers to understand their particular flavor profile and make suggestions they would enjoy.”
French started at The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey restaurant soon after it opened in 2014 as General Manager. It was not long until he and owner John Hamilton wanted to offer their customers more of an inclusive dining experience. “Having a sommelier adds to the guest experience and gives our customers a sense of trust,” French said. With more than eighteen years in the hospitality industry, French explained obtaining the Introductory Sommelier Certificate encompasses more than wine. It is a rigorous and intense training in offering a unique guest experience and uncompromising service levels.
The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey menu changes about every six weeks as the chef works with local produce and offers in season items. The menu ranges from an Angus beef burger, better known as the Big Rack Burger, to a Missouri Pasture Raised Pork Chop. The from-scratch American comfort food kitchen also offers fresh seafood. “All dressings, vinegar, pickles and several other items are made from scratch as well, providing customers a unique experience only available at The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey,” explained Hamilton. “Our chef also creates a weekend feature that starts on Thursdays and runs through Saturday…if it lasts that long.” Of course, each selection has a recommended wine to compliment your entrée.
When asked why red wines are better with meat and white wines are better with fish, French explained that red wines contain tannins, and in combination with certain umami-rich fish, they create a metallic and bitter taste which can be quite unpleasant. But that is not always the case, according to French. “The most important factor when pairing wine and food is personal preference. Most people prefer a robust red wine with steak and white wine with smoked salmon, but if you prefer a Chardonnay with your steak, that’s fine too.”
“I tend to drink and eat things that go well together and compliment each other. One group of food I like to deviate from is spicy Thai. It’s hard for me to find a wine that can stand up with the amount of spice I normally enjoy, so I switch and go to the sweet side on wines. They cut each other just enough to let them shine independently, all during the same meal,” French said. “Over the last year I am finding myself grabbing dry rose. It has been a trend on the rise for a few years now and the good producers are really showcasing some amazing offerings. Right now, we have a great Italian blend from Puglia. It is comprised of of 95% Negro Amaro and 5% Malvasia Nera. It pushes some people out of their comfort zone because of it’s unique nose, but most end up really enjoying it. It is so unique we have even found a way to work it into one of our Manhattans.”
Hamilton and French started a wine club to further enhance their guest experience. Club members are offered several benefits, including discounts on wines and opportunities to sample wines from around the world. “We started with 24 members and have grown to over 140 members in the last year. Much of the success is attributed to having a dedicated on- site sommelier like Josh to help grow our wine collection.”
In addition to the wine club, The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey offers Three Course Thursdays for Two. It is a carefully created menu paired with French’s wine recommendations. The cost is $45 plus tax for 2 people and includes customers choice of one sharable appetizer, 2 chef featured entrées and one sharable dessert. Each course is paired with wine at an additional cost.
The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey has a private banquet room that seats up to 50 guests.
Lunch and dinner are served Tuesday through Sunday, with a special Sunday brunch.
The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey is located at 5065 State Highway N, Cottleville, MO 63304. Reservations for dinner are recommended. Call 636-244-0574. Visit www.therackhousekww.com
Photos by Drive Social Media