Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin says in his work The Physiology of Taste or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy, “Alcohol is the king of potables, and carries to the nth degree the excitation of our palates; its diverse preparations have opened up to us many new sources of pleasure…”

For this reason, people with a certain fixation toward taste seek to elevate the food they’ve come to love and adore by pairing the dish with wine. For an Athenian like myself, that dish could very well be venison stroganoff.

Many people who hunt use the sport as an opportunity to provide food on a large scale for themselves and their loved ones. Athens is no different; there is game to hunt in the modest foothills. 

My friend had given me some venison from the deer he had hunted, so I decided to make a venison variant of my pressure cooker recipe for beef stroganoff. The first thing to notice about the dish in reference to its pairing is the strong aroma and flavor. That is no dish to be trifled with. Wine retailer Danny May and Andy Sharpe, in their book The Only Wine Book You’ll Ever Need, say “Powerfully flavored dishes require wines of equal fortitude.” 

There are no doubt exceptions to that rule, but in this case, affirming the adage is an appropriate move. For this dish, one needs the gusto of a robust red to carry the meat to splendor. One’s first choice may be the dramatic and bold Cabernet Sauvignon. While that is reasonable, the wine I paired my venison stroganoff with was Zinfandel. It too has great strength, but it carries a sweetness that Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t bring to the table. 

Pleasant pairings and delightful consumptive experiences to the well experienced palate can come from even the most unlikely of places. Often though, the addition of wine pairing attracts a harsh gaze of accused pretentiousness. 

I will happily grant that there are people out in this wild world of wine who act like sommeliers without the sensibility and understanding, let alone the training and palate of one. The respected title of a sommelier does deserve respect for their cognizance of taste, but he/she does not hold unique arbitration into the marriage of drink and food. Sommeliers have the privilege to be able to taste to varying extents and thus have the opportunity to learn about themselves from the lenses of our bodies’ reaction to what we consume.

Noah Gruenberg is a junior studying music composition at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Noah? Email him at