Culinary Arts

Breaking the Rules of Pairings: A Tuscan Luncheon

James Suckling

Lesson time 15:41 min

For James, breaking the rules when experimenting with wine pairing is essential to the dining experience. Learn how to pair unconventional foods and wines to bring out new and highly creative flavor combinations.

James Suckling
Teaches Wine Appreciation
Flavor, aroma, and structure—Learn from wine master James Suckling as he teaches you to appreciate the stories in every bottle.
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I wanted to invite you to experience a meal with me and my family, and this is what it's all about. Wine, food, friends, the experience. And I have a special philosophy about food and wine pairing. Sure, I like the classics. Smoked salmon with chardonnay, chicken with pinot noir, meat with bold Cabernet. Those are all normal. But I like to be a little bit more dynamic, more family, more experiential, where you get a bunch of bottles, you put it on the table. You bring different dishes, different sensations in the plate. That's a much more dynamic way of food and wine pairing. And we're going to have some cool combinations today, and you can see. Whoa, that kimchi pancake. Hello, that's awesome, Marie. You'll have to have champagne when I'm cooking. It's a celebration when you're in the kitchen, and then, later, serving to your friends, and just having a great time. And champagne works with everything. That's my rule. Maybe not steaks and wild game or something. But it's an awesome drink. And I also really like it with smoked salmon and smoke fishes, too. This fish looks beautiful, Marie. MARIE KIM SUCKLING: Yeah, it's perfect. JAMES SUCKLING: One thing that I think we always get worried about is fish, in fact. And people think red wine with fish is a no-no. Think about red wines that act like a white wine, where it has fresh acidity, low tannins, fruitiness, fine, dry. That means pinot noir, sirrah, gamay. Don't use the big blockbuster wines with tannins and lots of fruit and alcohol. I chose a piano grigio from Alto Adige. That's in Northeastern Italy. I took the capsule off like this. I don't even have to cut it. So one thing I always notice is a lot of people make the mistake of not using excellent quality wants to cook with. Let's see how it is. Also, taste the wine before you put it on the fish. Maybe it's corked or it hasn't been stored properly. Oh, it's delicious. My fish is going to like that one. Today, I tried to pick wines-- both red and white-- that wouldn't be fighting against one another. The wines are all in balance. They're not too fruity, not too alcoholic. They're refined, fresh, and clean. And everything can be served at the same time. So we're going to have various glasses, and I want people to try different wines at the same time. I think that's really fun. We do it all the time in Asia, and I think that everyone should be doing it. I'm really interested to be tasting a white wine from Lamberto. Hey, Jack. JACK SUCKLING: What's going on in the kitchen, then? JAMES SUCKLING: Well, you can see we have some fun dishes today for lunch. We have the kimchi pancake. And then I'm doing a really nice, light pasta with butter and fresh sage from the garden. - Simple, but sweet. [MUSIC PLAYING] - Here's the pasta. - Wow. - I hope you like it. It was made from sage from the garden, some of your olive oil. Yes, thank you. - Certo. JACK SUCKLING: So the first wine tha...

Discover the story in every bottle

Called one of the “world’s most powerful wine critics,” James Suckling has tasted more than 200,000 wines over the past 40 years. In his wine tasting MasterClass, James tours legendary Tuscan vineyards and teaches you to explore the stories, history, and people behind every bottle. Deepen your knowledge of the properties in each sip, cultivate your passion, and choose, order, and pair wines with confidence.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for making the subject of wine and tasting less intimidating. I will definitely be trying wines from different regions.

I enhanced my knowledge of wine, especially how you can relate the flavors of the wine to the region it was grown. I also enjoyed the variety of wines presented from places other than California, which is the wine I'm most familiar with.

MasterClass makes me discover how passionate I can be about something and now I'm passionate about wine more than ever. James Suckling is a brilliant instructor and I the workbook is the best one I've come across so far. Absolutely Brilliant!

To discover some awesome Italian wines and vintages and to improve my english wine vocabulary. I've missed some more references to Spanish wines. Thank you for the material which is quite useful.



What a beautiful moment of cibo, vino, famiglia e amici. So poignant, I wept. I was so taken by Mr. Suckling's open invitation to allow freedom of creative innovation with the wine selections in relation to the luscious delight of the cuisines, so characteristic of a particular country, or region. Bellissimo!

julie G.

I am surprise they don’t talk about the ingredients that accompany the fish. Grilled vegetables, namely the red pepper will make the fish more «pallettable » with red wines, it seems to me. Especially super Tuscans. I guess it is personal...but great episode. Great guests

Alan M.

I love the casualness of this episode, not pretentious in the least! I made some notes and I'm planning on having a party with some of James' wine selections. If you're in the Sacramento region, let's meet up!

A fellow student

fish is suppose to have fishy aromas, isn't that natural? otherwise, eat meat LOL!!! OMG they should have used this chapter for better quality talk. I am sure the background helps to forgive all the bla bla bla!!!

Isabella Q.

Love the course but disappointed that it restricts review of earlier lessons

Steve H.

Wonderful lesson, guaranteed to make you smile. And I loved the label idea: "Forbidden from drinking alone." Prego.

Michael M.

Very well done! Stress free insight into the world of wine. I feel like packing my bags and heading to Tuscany now..

Richard F.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, insights, and encouragement. I felt it was a privilege to spend this casual time at this gathering in such a setting, with good food, good wine, good company. Mille grazie.