According to Brenda Bruker, owner of the New York Butcher Shoppe, there’s more to wine pairing than meets the palate.
“Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.” – Anonymous
My first memory of drinking wine was with my parents in a small-town, Southern Wisconsin supper club in the mid-1980s. My parents do not drink but allowed themselves the indulgence as an aperitif to a Friday Night Fish Fry. While Dad’s selection varied, ordering either a Miller Lite or a brandy old fashioned, Mom always ordered a single glass of Chablis. It sounded so “French” to me, and I was immediately intrigued. This was also the era when wine coolers were first introduced, and Dad would occasionally allow me to savor one during an outing to a baseball game. Even at this early age, I associated wine with elegance and sophistication, although looking back, these experiences were not all that sophisticated!
In my early adulthood, I shared a bottle of Riesling with a girlfriend at a small café. I had never heard of Riesling prior to that afternoon, and both of us thought we had stumbled upon the world’s best-kept secret. Soon I learned about “big cabs” and Champagne, lucky to taste an effervescent glass of Dom Perignon one evening. I became intrigued with the art of wine tasting, pondering how one could taste so many different fruits in a single sip. While I never had an evolved palate, I knew what I liked, and what I liked seemed to constantly change as I aged.
Eventually I began traveling the world in my role with a multinational business. I became fast friends with the seasoned leaders who enjoyed eating and drinking well during our business trips. I soon became spoiled sharing wine with these colleagues who seemed to have it all figured out. Insecure about ordering a nice bottle of wine from a restaurant menu, particularly with a group of executives seated at my table, my wine selection skills were about as refined as asking the waitstaff, “I like spicy reds, what do you recommend?”
This brings me to today. This informal mentorship has led me to learn and appreciate the art of food pairing which has since become an unexpected hobby. I continue my pursuit of the ever-elusive perfect Rioja, a wine that for me pairs perfectly with almost every type of food, from pizza to steak au poivre! This is what led me to start this business—New York Butcher Shoppe—which brings the best of food and wine to our village of Asheville. I have much to learn but thoroughly enjoy the process of sharing these experiences with other food and wine lovers in our community.
We collaborate with our distributors to find the highest quality wines for the best value and constantly rotate our collection to provide a unique assortment ranging in price from $10 to $100 per bottle. We take pride in carrying a variety of wines at great prices that you cannot find at other stores in town. As you can imagine, I have become my own best customer!
The recent pandemic has provided me time to create my own food pairing “test kitchen” at home. Many of us are not visiting restaurants as regularly, and we have this unique opportunity to slow down a bit and spend more quality time at home with our friends and family. I have enjoyed recreating fine dining experiences from my own kitchen. I have also read more about wine and enjoy experimenting with new combinations that would not have occurred to me to try in the past. One of my recent surprises was pairing a sparkling, tart rosé with a slice of carrot cake. What a delicious treat! It makes my mouth water just thinking of it.
Whether sipping my first glass with my parents, sharing a Riesling with a friend, or breaking bread with colleagues, I’ve learned that the best wine pairing is those we share it with. While we probably won’t be clinking glasses anytime soon, it’s that sentiment that still rings true and makes wine pairing so special.
We created this simple food and wine pairing guide with Capital at Play to aid the amateur wine-lover in selecting the perfect pairing for his or her next celebratory or experimental meal. We also introduced a new Wine Club this summer which enables our guests to learn more about the global wine regions and their ideal food pairings with items we frequently carry in our Shoppe. We partner with our distributors to post videos explaining the wines, which are posted at our new YouTube channel.