Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Julia Child loved fine wine as much as food

Clearly a woman of impeccable taste, American TV chef and author Julia Child was as passionate about fine wine as she was good food, and had a weakness for Château d’Yquem, Chablis, Chambertin and classed growth Bordeaux, has revealed.

Speaking to The Oregonian on the eve of what would have been Child’s centenary on 15 August, close friend and travel companion Pat Pratt said: “Julia had a weakness for Château d'Yquem, especially when served with Grand Marnier soufflé or crème brulée, but she also paired it with foie gras or pâté.”

“We went to visit the château in Bordeaux and were leaning over the well in the center of the courtyard. We both lost our sunglasses down that well,” she added. Child also had a penchant for white Burgundy, and is quoted as saying: "I would happily die with a bottle of white Burgundy in my mouth.” She had a particular fondness for the minerality of Chablis, which she’d pair with lobster and oysters.

A lifelong wine lover, Child is best known for her 1961 debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which features a chapter on wine. Her husband, Paul, was a wine educator who kept well-stocked cellar. Keen to enhance her wine knowledge and improve her tasting skills, Child was a member of Burgundian wine society La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.

She indulged her passion for wine by visiting vineyards in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy, Alsace and California. "At every vineyard we visited, Julia and I would always taste one grape from the end of the row. We weren't supposed to, but we did," Pratt told The Oregonian. "When we had really good meals together, I would ask for the label off the bottle,” she added.  

A big Bordeaux lover, Child showed a preference for Château Palmer, Château Lafite and St Emilion Grand Cru Classé Ausone, which she once visited. Despite a love of wine, Child was strict about not indulging while at work – the glasses she raised at the end of her TV shows were filled with coloured water. For her 40th birthday, Child enjoyed roast duck and 1926 Gevrey-Chambertin, and lusted after Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which she only got to drink once.

In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child recommends Château La Mission Haut-Brion with veal, Corton-Charlemagne with beef, Volnay with brie and Grands-Echézeaux with veal kidneys. A number of events organised by Les Dames d'Escoffier, an international society of professional women in the fields of food, wine and hospitality, are taking place across the US today to honour Child’s centenary.

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