The first celebrity chef to rule the TV airwaves, Julia Child, is best known for her French cookbooks and her exuberance for cooking. But there's one often-ignored quality of Child that we think is worth raising a glass: her love of wine.
While most exalt the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Katherine Cole and the Oregonian took a closer look at one particular chapter: "Wines." Child's friend, Pat Pratt, revealed Child's philosophy of wine, food pairings, and celebrating the art of drinking. What Pratt said to the Oregonian:
Child loved white burgundy. In one of Child's more famous quotes, she said, "I would happily die with a bottle of white burgundy in my mouth." But really, Child loved burgundies of all kinds. She served burgundy with pheasant on her 40th birthday; and Child always wanted to try the rare burgundy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
Child also loved sweet wines. And she indulged in some dessert pairings: the Château d'Yquem with the soufflé Grand Marnier, or with crème brûlée.
Child took notes on different wines — and grapes — she tried. "At every vineyard we visited — in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy, and Alsace — Julia and I would always taste one grape from the end of the row. We weren't supposed to, but we did," Pratt said to the Oregonian. While she traveled through Europe and the U.S., she would take notes, and sometimes even labels, of the wines she tried.
Child drank wine with dinner — but enjoyed her martinis, too. Martinis before dinner, Pratt noted, turned into the "reverse martini": 2/3 vermouth, 1/3 gin.
Wine, and food, is something to be learned. From Mastering the Art of French Cooking: “Just like becoming an expert in wine — you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford — you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences."
And when in doubt, drink gin. Said one person said at her memorial, "When a sommelier asked her to name her favorite wine, she replied, 'Gin.'"
Chef extraordinaire, oenophile — there's nothing Child couldn't master.