You may know that Ray Isle has been the executive wine editor at Food & Wine magazine since 2005, but you probably didn’t know that before wine he taught fiction writing at Stanford University. Needless to say — the guy is interesting. Isle knows his stuff when it comes to wine and food pairings, and at this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival, he will share his knowledge with the rest of us by hosting "The Price Is Wine," as well as "From Pasta to Prost! Italy Meets Germany in Wine & Food," which will be co-hosted by the winner of Bravo’s first season of Top Chef and American restaurateur Harold Dieterle.
When we sat down with Isle he had much to say about "The Price Is Wine" event. Isle explained to us that there will be two sommeliers tasting two different kinds of wine, one that is expensive, and one that is inexpensive. He told us, "The somms try to convince everyone in the audience which one is the more expensive wine." Isle is a firm believer that one can enjoy a $20 bottle of wine regardless of the stigma attached to purchasing a bottle that is not as expensive. "[That’s] not to say there are not amazing $20 bottles and there are bleak and miserable $75 bottles," he said.
When prodded about his participation in "From Pasta to Prost!," Isle told us that he wanted to play on both the German and Italian sides of Dieterle’s heritage. From the description of the seminar, it sounds like we can expect that there will be Italian wines paired with Italian dishes and German wines paired with German dishes, but Isle hesitated and explained to us that the seminar is a chance for audience members to try what they think will go best with each dish — there’s nothing that says a German wine can’t go well with an Italian dish. He explained, "The whole idea for pairing is don’t stress about it… Wine is made to go with food. And [pairing is] not something to get really mental about."
Beyond his own participation in the New York City Wine & Food Festival, Isle is excited about the festival's impact on New York City. He’s a man that’s dedicated to his craft and he explained that New York City is a wonderful place for wine, stating, "It’s a fantastic time to be out and about ordering wine in New York… if there’s a wine in the world that’s good, it’s somewhere in New York." When it comes to the New York City Wine & Food Festival, though, Isle certainly is enthusiastic about its influence on the city itself. He told us, "I like the fact that it’s hard to take over New York. New York is a big place and you get drowned by it. [The New York City Wine & Food Festival] is so substantial now that it makes an impression on the city." And we would have to agree. The festival is in New York City from Oct. 17 to 20 and we can't wait to see what it has to offer!