Bon Appetit! Food and Wine Pairings 101

There are only 174 Master Sommeliers in the world, and 16 of those call Las Vegas home, more than any other U.S. city (Mastersommeliers.org). Not everyone can be a polished wine aficionado, but a server can demonstrate their skill and competence to their guests with some basic knowledge about food and wine pairings. An understanding of what basic combinations go together best, and the skill to recommend a bottle you have on hand to pair with a meal will impress your guests and demonstrate your knowledge. Here are some tips every service professional should know:

  1. Match the texture of the food with the texture of the wine. If you’re going for a hearty or rich meal, make sure to pick a robust wine that will hold up to the textures and the flavors, and vice versa (Real Simple).
  2. When choosing a wine, take the sauce and preparation into consideration, not just the meat. Many people rely only on the meat when choosing the wine and stick with the old standby that white wine goes with white meat and red wine with red meat. However, the sauce is often the dominant flavor in a dish, and a buttery, smooth chardonnay can pair beautifully with pork or steak, when it’s finished in a cream sauce (Wine Country Network).
  3. Always follow personal preferences! Ask your guests what their favorite wines are: some people just don’t like red wines, wines from a particular region, etc. Spices, aromas and flavors appeal to people in different ways, so help your guests to follow their taste buds’ preferences to find something they will like.

Another suggestion for some wine education, and a helpful tool to boot, is Natalie MacLean’s Wine & Food Matcher. Pop in any combination of dishes and/or wines (or cocktails!), and the tool will make suggestions for pairings.

A little help goes a long way, and now you’re well on your way to feeling confident in making suggestions for tasty and memorable combinations. What are your favorite food and wine pairings?

Resources

The Court of Master Sommeliers – Membership

5 Keys to Pairing Food and Wine – Real Simple

Food & Wine Pairing Tips – Wine Country Network

Nat Decants – Wine & Food Matcher

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

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The Health Department Is on the Lookout – Are You in Their Sights?

Do you make sure to always use proper hand-washing procedures at work? What about making sure that dirty dishes don’t pile up in the sink? Service industry professionals and dining establishments alike have a responsibility to make sure their places of business are clean for the health and safety of their staff and customers. Nothing can tarnish the reputation of an establishment more than a poor letter grade, a shutdown from the health department, or a rash of food-borne illnesses linked back to your business. When customers stay away, servers and bartenders lose out big on income and tips. So, it is in your best interest to make sure you are promoting a healthy establishment.

Businesses everywhere need to practice cleanliness and sanitation, but Nevada in particular does an excellent job of staying on top of the issue. KTNV ABC Action News 13 recently ran a report on the poor cleanliness practices at HK Star, a restaurant in Las Vegas’ Chinatown district, which would make just about anyone think twice about dining out. According to KTNV, the restaurant, “recently received 32 demerits and a “C” grade after a visit from the Southern Nevada Health District.” (KTNV News). Their violations ran the gamut from improper hand washing techniques by their employees, to meat left out to defrost at room temperature. Since the report, HK Star has made some changes and brought their status back up to an “A” grade, but the damage to their reputation may already be done. Would you want to eat out somewhere that historically employed lax cleaning procedures? To read KTNV’s report and learn about other restaurants covered in their ‘Dirty Dining’ section, please refer to their article, “Dirty Dining: HK Star.”

In Las Vegas, the South Nevada Health District reserves the right to drop in at any time for a surprise inspection. With that in mind, make sure you’re always doing your best to stay compliant with rules and regulations. Use common sense when it comes to cleanliness, and follow any guidelines set out by your employer.

Here are some easy to follow guidelines:

  • If you work in a food-serving establishment, make sure you have a Food Handler Health Card issued by the Southern Nevada Health District. For more information on Health cards, refer to the Southern Nevada Health District website. Also make sure you have your alcohol awareness card, you can easily obtain one from TAM of Nevada. Both of these are requirements for anyone who works in an establishment which sells food and/or alcoholic beverages. Be aware that the Southern Nevada Health District can ask to see your cards at any time, and can cite you for non-compliance.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom, before and after handling any raw food products, after clearing a table or taking out the trash, after sneezing or coughing, or any time after you touch something which isn’t sanitized. For instructions on proper hand washing techniques, refer to the CDC’s article, “Clean Hands Save Lives”.
  • Keep your fingernails clean and neatly trimmed.
  • If you have long hair, tie it back to avoid having it get into food or beverages.
  • Make sure food and food storage containers are properly labeled and dated. Discard any food items which are past expiration.
  • Look around and make sure all areas in the kitchen and common areas are clean and tidy. Utensils and storage containers should all be in their place, work surfaces should be wiped down, and trash containers should be emptied regularly. It only takes a minute to clean up clutter.

To learn more about South Nevada Health District’s rules and regulations for food serving and other public establishments please refer to the SNHD’s Food Establishments Regulations. And, to learn more on just how those A, B, and C grades are handed out, refer to the Las Vegas Review Journal’s concise article, “Restaurant Inspections Protect the Public.” Proper cleaning and safety practices are everyone’s job. What steps do you take to make sure you’re doing your best in cleanliness, sanitation, and public health?

Resources:

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada