Chef James Canter helps you wine, dine in style

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Jan. 30, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 29, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

One of the many perks of drinking wine is the opportunity to expand one's palate.

"It's very imperative - no pun intended - that you sample the wines," Chef James Canter said. "Taste the food against the wine and the wine against the food."

There are no rules to wine, Canter, the executive chef at the Victoria Country Club said, so if you like a certain wine with your fish, then enjoy them together. "Having a non-perfectly paired wine with a meal isn't going to ruin a meal."

But to help you find your footing in the wine world, there are a few guidelines that will help you accentuate the food you're eating:

  • Pair lighter fare with lighter-bodied wines
  • Fuller-bodied fare with heartier wines
  • Consider the method of cooking because different methods will impart different flavors; bitterness, acidity, creaminess, etc.

"It's all about balance," he said. "It's incredible how amazing a meal and a wine can taste when it's perfectly paired. It's really, truly magic."

Having worked in various positions in the culinary world from being a sandwich artist to apprenticing under an Omni Hotel chef for two years, he learned how to use wine to better define flavors in his cooking.

"Younger in my career I didn't realize the importance," Canter said. "But truly I've always cooked with wine to accentuate the food I was cooking to impart a certain levels acidity or softness to some dishes."

After all his years of cooking, he said the best way to learn how to pair wines is to sample it. Smell the aroma. Taste and savor it. And look for flavors and nuances. Those flavors and nuances are what will guide the pairing.

"Try it with food," he said. " When you taste a bad pairing, you'll know. It's just horrid."


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