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Out With the Old : These Days, When It Comes to Matching Wines With Food, All Bets Are Off

December 08, 1985|ROBERT LAWRENCE BALZER

About 76 million baby boomers are moving into the peak periods of their careers. And for anyone whose journalistic purlieu is the world of gastronomy, the changes being wrought by their appetites are revolutionary, to say the least. Never considered parental imitators, these yup-and-coming trend-setters with a fairly universal penchant for snacking--dubbed "grazing," not dining--have given the restaurant world a lot to think about.

No restaurant personifies this new movement more than Primi. The restaurant takes its name from primi piatti , those "first courses" on an Italian menu that have become so popular today. According to owner Piero Selvaggio, no one ever had any dilemma about choosing antipasto, pasta, or even risotto, but people are having diminishing enthusiasm about main courses. This is the inspiration for Primi, a runaway success while many restaurants are complaining about business being soft. For lunch or dinner, you'll need reservations.

Ah, you may wonder, what does this new trend in restaurants portend for the world of wine? Our large adult generation seems not to be bound by any of yesterday's rules about what goes with what. Scrap the rule that red wine goes with pasta or that cliche of "red wine with red meat, white wine with fish and poultry." Replace it with the joys of experimentation, the bottom line being to drink whatever pleases you most.

One afternoon I went through 10 bites of Primi's Piatti d'assaggi menu--a sumptuous, satisfying survey that included tortellini fagottini (small purses of pasta filled with lobster and julienne of striped bass, scented with basil) and fiorellini , filled with a puree of fresh asparagus and enrobed with a reduction of four cheeses. With it Piero Selvaggio and I sipped two white wines, both superb accompaniments: Ezio Rivella's second release from the Villa Banfi estate in Montalcino, 1983 Fontanelle della Toscana, and Lungarotti, Torre di Giano 1980 Riserva, an Umbrian wine blended of Chardonnay and Trebbiano.

The reigning philosophy: Food is to eat, wine is to drink; both should taste good. Amen.

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