The digital drinker: Natalie MacLean’s food-and-wine matcher is now available on phones
Foodie apps for iPhones and BlackBerrys are all the rage of late (PC Magazine recently did a roundup of their favourites), and leading the charge in Toronto is sommelier and “unapologetically tipsy” wine lass Natalie MacLean. She recently launched a downloadable widget for her popular on-line drinks matcher, offering roadside assistance for LCBO-goers moored hopelessly between the Argentina and Vintages racks. The portable version allows users to pair food and drink from anywhere using a smart phone, then share the results via Facebook, MySpace, e-mail or Friendster. The app is downloadable from MacLean’s site, Nat Decants, and provides access to the 50,000 wine reviews she’s compiled over six years. That’s a lot of tipsy.
Updated daily, MacLean’s tool exists in two sizes and provides access to thousands of pairings. Users can match food to drink—or vice versa—by first selecting a broad category (“veal,” “white wine”) followed by a specific one (“wiener schnitzel,” “pinot blanc”), and then reading up on the recommended drink. The pairer can account for even the most unusual suspects, should provisions in the liquor cabinet or pantry run low. Among MacLean’s top 10 classic combos are lamb stew with Irish stout, macaroni and cheese with Argentine malbec, chocolate cake with Kentucky bourbon and (our personal favourite, for cast iron stomachs) spaghetti and meatballs with a bloody Mary.
As is the trend among tippling experts, MacLean goes democratic, including such budget-friendly bevvies as beer, coffee and tea alongside more traditional pairing picks, like wine, spirits and cocktails. (Colombian dark roast coffee, for example, is MacLean’s pick for toffee pudding.) Oddly enough, the master taster’s favourite blends are “shabby-chic” duos, like Oreos and port. While there’s something slightly perverse about combining archetypal kids’ cookies with alcohol, we think we may just give it a shot—while booking dinner reservations and riding the King car, of course.