Jacques Pepin is not just another TV chef. He cooked for kings and world leaders while he was chef for three presidents of France; he holds a master’s degree in French literature; and he was director of research and development for Howard Johnson’s when the restaurant chain was one of the most important in the United States.
So when Pepin speaks, it’s worth listening. And when he talks about wine, as he did during a recent trip to Dallas to promote his new book, “More Fast Food My Way”, his goal — as it is with all things cuisine — is to demystify.
“I’ve tried to pare it down, to simplify,” he says in his trademark accent, sitting in the lobby of the Mansion on Turtle Creek. “I used to do a lot of complicated cooking for no reason at all. Maybe it’s age. When you get older, it’s all about the essentials.”
Drink wine that you like, Pepin says, and worry about the rest of it later. He says he looks for bargains from countries such as Spain and France, and he finds much of the California wine too expensive.
“There’s nothing wrong with drinking simple wine,” says Pepin, who still drinks a lot of $10 beaujolais. His advice: Put a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white wine out for dinner, and let your guests make up their own minds.
More Pepin wine pointers:
• If you’re going to splurge, splurge on champagne and sparkling wine.
• Wine and food pairings are overrated. “I’m not too high on that anymore,” Pepin says. “It’s too difficult to figure out.” Hence the simple red and the simple white put on the dinner table.
• Drink regional. Several years ago, Pepin was eating dinner in the Savoie region of France, known for its well-made, inexpensive white wines. He was with a TV group, and when the wine list came, the TV people asked if they should order the only Bordeaux on the list. Pepin says he laughed, and told them: “You’re in Savoie — drink Savoie wine.” —JEFF SIEGEL
Ask the Wine Guy
Q. What does “brut”