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Academic Argument - Food & Wine

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Food & Wine

        Do you like to eat? Do you also enjoy the occasional glass of wine or craft brew? How about enjoying them together? The combination of food and alcoholic beverages has been practiced ever since the Sumerians first discovered the fermentation process and successfully brewed beer. Besides providing future college students with a weekend pastime, the practice of fermenting grain and fruit has developed into a sophisticated science with many different styles around the world. Styles that are so varied the average person wishing to delve into the study of wine and beer may feel overwhelmed when trying to determine the difference between a Pinot Noir from the Bordeaux region of France and a Malbec from Southern Australia. For anyone interested in gourmet food to make at home, trying different wines and beers, or both, Food & Wine magazine would be a great place to begin. Food & Wine is a monthly publication for people who consider themselves “foodies” with a basic understanding of wine tasting, but may not have enough knowledge or expertise to be labeled a gourmet or a true oenophile. The information given is also relevant to experts in the field who want an easy source for discovering new wines and a couple of new recipes while they're at it. Available at book stores, supermarkets and even an online version, the magazine is widely available and at a decent price. Food & Wine is stylishly organized, very informative on its subjects and appeals to people of all backgrounds and knowledge levels of food and drink.

        Food & Wine does not need to give any explanation on what the readers will find inside; food and wine is what it says and food and wine is what they get. The cover of the recent issue, from November,  features a large photo of a perfectly roasted turkey garnished with fresh sage and thyme sitting next to a glass of red wine and a bowl of chunky cranberry sauce. Turning back the cover reveals  six separate tables of contents. The main one lists the featured articles for that month. After that, there is a list of recipes, featured wines, beers, menus for the month, and even restaurants that are discussed that issue. Each of these is categorized by flavor and organized to allow for easy pairings. If one wants a suggestion for a Sunday football party, just go to the “Menus” list and look for “Sunday Night Football Party” for an entire menu that includes two wines to pair the food with. Page numbers for each item aid in finding the full recipes. Don't expect to find a menu for hot wings and traditional pigs-in-a-blanket paired with Miller High Life; this magazine is slightly more pretentious than that without feeling condescending. The articles are accompanied by excellent photographs that highlight the subject, whether it is the end result of a recipe or a new chef to watch. Like any magazine, there are enough advertisements to compile into an entirely separate publication, but even those ads have great examples of food photography so the reader gets hungrier for more knowledge of a gastronomical nature, sometime quite literally.

        The articles and recipes contained within Food & Wine supply the reader with excellent information on the subject of  food and drink and how they can be brought together in wonderful combinations. Each recipe is written in a way that even the most novice of home cooks would be able to follow along. The directions are simple and straight forward, avoiding the advanced technical jargon that one would need some time in culinary school to understand. The descriptions of different wines follow the same pattern. They are simple enough for the layman to understand, yet descriptive enough for the expert to appreciate. A reader should be able to decide if a particular wine will go well with a dinner menu he or she is planning by reading the reviews in this magazine. Of course, nothing accounts for taste, so the final results may vary for each person. There is not much in the way of referencing sources outside of the magazine, giving the reader the impression that Food & Wine, or the subject of the article, is the voice of authority on each matter. Occasionally, a writer may make mention of the James Beard Foundation, certain respected culinary schools, or other organizations of such magnitude in the culinary world, but this is only to highlight the interviewee's credibility.

        Whether one is an expert in the field of gastronomy and wine pairing, or just a regular person who wants to graduate beyond Sutter Home Merlot and Arbor Mist, this periodical provides many benefits. If one is just starting out, the recipes are easy to follow and don't require the prospective cook to have a whole lot of experience to be able to get the desired results. The wine reviews are not snobbish and are written to be accessible to the layman who might not know much beyond red and white, which is actually the best place to start (match the wine color with the meat color). To grab the reader's attention, each article is started with a large headline and photo along with the first paragraph of most beginning with an exaggerated letter to commence to the opening sentence. The photos are the big draw for the eye which makes one want to read the piece to discover how to replicate such an exquisite dish. Each recipe is supplemented with a wine pairing, sometimes a beer pairing, that will complement the meal. If one cannot afford that particular wine, the local liquor store staff should be able to suggest a less costly substitute that will still go well with the menu. As with any source of information, the individual still needs to explore and try things for himself or herself.



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