‘Tis the season of flavors. The holidays allow for a sparkling array of tastes and textures — from hams and turkey to sweet treats like cakes and pies.
And Ruth Ryberg knows that for every delectable dish, there is a wine just waiting to be invited to the party. The certified sommelier who helps guide patrons at JPs Spirits and Wines in Brunswick, feels there is nothing like matching up the right vino with food.
“When you have a perfect pairing, there’s really nothing else like it. Combining beautiful food and beautiful wine ... it is just this complete sensory experience,” Ryberg said. “It is wonderful.”
That comes easily for Ryberg who has dedicated years to the study of wines, their history and their makeup. But for the average, home chef, that might not come as effortlessly.
“A good rule that a lot of people generally know is white wine with white meat ... chicken and fish, things like that. Then, you have red wines with red meat. That is the traditional thinking,” she said. “What you really want is for the wine to balance out the food.”
Ryberg said foods with higher fat content like the red meats usually pair well with red wine because that has a higher acidity level. The same is true for the white wines that offer comparable acidity to lighter fare. This allows the two to present a balanced experience when enjoyed together.
“Another good rule is to use the wines that come from similar areas as the food. For instance, wines that come from places closer to the ocean naturally pair well with seafood,” she said.
Like Ryberg, Tanya Sergey also has a passion for flavors. At her restaurant, A Moveable Feast, 1178 Chapel Crossing Road, Brunswick, she spends her days mixing and matching combinations to please the palettes of her patrons.
“I have traveled extensively and love to present a food story that has personal meaning to me or that I would love to enjoy,” she said.
It was only a matter of time before Ryberg and Sergey found one another and decided to combine their talents to create unique wine tastings for the public.
“We have done several wine dinners in the past year. Ruth and I agree on a country or a region, and then I come up with a menu,” Sergey said.
“Ruth’s wine knowledge is so extensive that, even if she hasn’t traveled to the region, she has studied the elevations, soil and grapes that she can tell me what exact wine will go with what I plan to present for our four course wine dinners.”
The two have done an international dinner with wines from various European countries including Portugal. They have also featured Argentine fare.
“Sadly, our Alsatian wine dinner was eclipsed by the hurricane,” Sergey noted.
But they were not dismayed and set their sights on planning a new event, a holiday wine tasting. Slated for 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the restaurant, the afternoon will consist of more than 60 wines from various regions. Both women will be on hand to explain the intricacies of the foods and the wines that will be showcased.
“Of course, some people just come for the food and the company, where we have everything from couples to family style seating,” Sergey said. “This upcoming holiday wine tasting is so special because a diverse tasting of this breadth and depth is rarely available to the public. Ruth actually leads our dinner guests through an oral tour of the region and gives excellent wine notes and regional histories. I will make delicious little batches of wonders to accompany her selections. This is a wonderful event wherein wine aficionados or novices can come and delight in the season.”
For people who find a flavor they love, the wine will be available to order through JPs and Ryberg will come with plenty of order forms in hand.
“What’s really great about this one is that there are wines that most people haven’t heard of ... there might be a couple that they will recognize but, for the most part, I think that they will be new,” Ryberg said.