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Infused 101: Perfect Pairings

Jill Silverman Hough's latest book matches a variety of main dishes up to the perfect wine
 Infused 101: Perfect Pairings

In INFUSED, a weekly column, Elizabeth J. Musgrave connects spirits, wine, and beer with culinary and creative arts


You feel sooo good. You've tasted more wines then you thought possible and have finally found one you like. In fact, you really like this one. You are not a failure… you can sip wine like all those wine wizards and metropolitan types. You are, in fact, quite giddy with the fact – as if you have overcome a rite of adulthood passage. You have reached the next plateau...

Now what?

Well, that depends on you, of course. Are you content with that glass of Chardonnay, Merlot or Sauvignon… or is your stomach growling? Deciding the cuisine and then the accompanying libation is quite normal and some would declare it the correct process. However, after discovering a new favorite wine, perhaps the opposite approach is more appropriate. Choose foods that complement your newly discovered favorite adult beverage.

Counterintuitive? Perhaps.

Effective? Absolutely.

Enter stage right – Jill Silverman Hough, author of 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates (2010) and the newly released 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes. Hough is a culinary instructor, food writer and recipe developer out of Napa, California. Besides the first two installments in the (hopefully) continuing series, Hough also developed recipes for NY Times best seller Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!) and regularly contributes to a variety of magazines including Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, and Napa Sonoma to name a few.

Written in a conversational tone, the cookbooks take you into the world of twelve commonly found wines, six white and six red. Hough gives tips on the varietals, culture, and nuances while sharing personal notes including how she arrived at the place in her life to write these cookbooks. Each section announces the varietal with a brief history and its characteristics, before she launches into numerous recipes and the reasons why each will pair well with that particular wine.

Like Pinot Noir? Try warm duck and raspberry salad. Are you in the mood for a lush German Gewurztraminer? Pair it with sticky Asian barbecued baby back ribs. Whichever of these twelve wines you enjoy, Hough has paired it well by flavor, characteristics and spices, using more commonly found ingredients.

As much as I would like to have seen Amarone, Chianti and Chablis listed, I am reasonable enough to realize that not every wine could be covered… yet.

Bottom Line: 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates and 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes take the mystery and snob factor out of wine and fine-cuisine pairing and places the joy squarely, without ceremony, into the hands of wine and food lovers with or without professional training.

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Elizabeth J. Musgrave is the editor for, writing the fine-living syndicated column and syndicated blog, Gotta Go. Published both in print and online at,, and, Gotta Go offers reviews and recommendations on food and drink, the performing arts, and travel destinations.

Elizabeth is also a freelance writer, photographer, public speaker, and a leading Indianapolis performing arts and restaurant critic. She can be heard on 93 WIBC's Saturday Morning News Show as Indy’s entertainment adviser, and can also be found on Twitter,LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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