Pairing Off: 2008's Most Graphic Moments

Looking back on an all too brief year matching wines with everyday foods--you know, things from cans, boxes, fast food joints, and so on--it occurs to me the experts consulted each week performed admirably.

Suspiciously so, as if they had already guzzled rose with their Taco Bueno takeaway on several occasions, despite protestations otherwise.

Well, no shame in that. Pairing Off hopes to prove that wine works with burgers as well as Bourguignon, Fritos as well as foie gras. But they leave me with no way to select favorites from a list of very good pairings.

Instead, Pairing Off closes out the year with a tribute to the graphic designs of our multi-skilled, arguably deranged web editor Patrick Michels:

1. Microwave popcorn and Gruet sparkling wine

($15.99, Veritas Wine Bar)
Nothing Mona Lisa-esque about Orville's smile in this worthy piece of art. Clearly he's happy about either the oversized bottle or the fact that he's just downed the whole thing. Michels' best work is blunt and audacious, inspired by the great masters but veering into territory they were afraid to explore.

2. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and  Waterstone Zinfandel

($11.99, Goody Goody)
A telling still life from Michels' ever growing portfolio. Notice how he ignores the rules of composition...if he's even aware there are such rules. The fact that he did, indeed, consume the entire bag of white bread, damn near all the jelly and most of the peanut butter makes it a one of a kind piece.

3. Chef Boyardee and McPherson Sangiovese

($18, Veritas Wine Bar)
Michels cleverly makes outdated design relevant to the modern world while at the same time suggesting the work of those in the past supports everything humans accomplish today--and into the future (note the implied forward motion). Or perhaps he just stuck a cutout bottle onto an old picture.

4. Taco Bueno and Planeta Rose

($16.99 Pogo's)
Not afraid to challenge convention (and copyright laws), the artist takes aim at corporate slogans and the shortened attention spans wrought by television, advertising and web design.

5. Hungry Man turkey dinner and HobNob Pinot Noir

($10, Majestic)
In his earlier works, Michels prefered to work outdoors in settings sympathetic to his material. He also happens to own an old truck, so the whole thing worked out nicely.

6. Chicken fried steak and Mark West Pinot Noir

($10.99 Centennial)
What else can you do when presented with this concept?

7. Kentucky Fried Chicken and Marques de Monistrol Cava

($7.99 Goody Goody)
By refusing to sum up the equation, the artist deliberately leaves us to ponder the rights and wrongs of this Cava-KFC issue. Plus we gave him about three minutes to come up with and execute a concept.

--Dave Faries

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