Combining food with the ideal wine is a precise procedure that can help enrich the dining experience. It is a method of balancing complementary tastes with the aim of increasing the pleasure of each ingredient.
However, wine pairing is not just about pairing food and wine based on their quality; it’s also about maximizing the benefits that each element adds to the overall experience. It’s a complex technique that you can learn at the best red wine clubs. But before that, let’s learn the basics!
Why are food and wine pairings important?
Food and wine should complement each other, without overpowering the flavor of the other. To achieve a healthy balance, don’t match opposing flavors; rather associate similar ones. For a delicious and delicate experience, choose a robust red wine with a hearty lamb dish or perhaps a light white wine with grilled fish. Contrasting flavors can sometimes complement each other, such as fried rice and a sweet Riesling.
How to pair food and wine? 8 simple rules to follow!
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#1: The intensity and nature of the flavors must match
The flavors of similar wines and dishes are complementary. For example, Pinot Gris and Lemon Sauce Fish both have citrus flavors and go well together.
Pair sweet wines with sweet dishes. Great tasty wines must be accompanied by great tasty dishes. Consider pairing a peppercorn steak with just a hot, tangy shiraz.
In the same way, you should usually pair a rich wine with a rich meal. For example, serve a rich chardonnay with chicken in a cream sauce.
#2: Maintain a similar weight for food and wine
We do not refer to weight in terms of pounds or kilograms. We talk about mixing lighter foods (usually less fat) with lighter wines and heavier, richer foods with heavier wines when we talk about balancing food weight with wine.
More delicate wines pair well with lighter foods like chicken and fish. White wine is the natural option, but light, low-tannin reds often do well.
#3: Consider Acidity
Young Rieslings and other high-acid wines are often drunk after consuming fatty foods like Indian curries or thick, buttery sauces to help the palate feel cleansed.
Pair a crisp, dry pinot grigio with a food that’s high in acids, like a salad and a vinegar-based dressing.
Compared to wines from warm regions, those from cold climates will have greater acidity.
#4: Richer, heavier foods will soften harsh tannins
First of all, what is tannin? In fact, tannins come from a variety of sources, including the rinds of grapes used to make wine, but they can also be found in the oak barrels used to age wine. The tannin has a mouth-watering flavor that’s comparable to what you’d feel if you were chewing a tea bag.
Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon pair well with steak due to their astringent flavors, which help cleanse the palette after a hearty meal.
#5: Don’t combine salt with tannin
Salty flavors are balanced with crisp, acidic wines. For example, our friend Sauvignon Blanc harmonizes feta and salted olives.
But a little sweet also enhances and balances savory dishes. Think how good it is to eat melon with parma ham!
The same can be done with wine: cool-climate Pinot Gris or any slightly sweet wine, such as Sauternes, a beautifully sweet wine from the Bordeaux region, is a renowned pairing with salty and tangy Roquefort.
#6: The wine should be at least as sweet as the dish
A bottle of wine should generally be accompanied by foods that are at least as sweet, if not sweeter. Dry wines are too harsh and acidic when paired with sweet dishes.
Rich dishes like pâté go best with sweet wines with moderate acidity, like Sauternes. The sweetness of the wine will balance the richness of the dishes, while the acidity will pierce the fat of the pâté.
#7: Spiced wines go well with spicy food
Sweeter wines provide a counterbalance to hot dishes.
Flavors in wine can be destroyed by intense spices, such as the hot peppers found in Thai and Indian cuisine. Wine is generally not the best drink to consume.
If wine is more your thing, consider something warm and sweet on its own, like an off-dry Gewürztraminer as well as Riesling.
#8: Top off the sauce
Use your complementary and congruent wine pairing strategies to try to pair the wine with the sauce provided. For example, try pairing Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc with cream and mushroom sauces, red and meat sauces with Shiraz, and delicate citrus sauces with these wines. No sauce? No problem! When presenting food without sauce, simply pair wine with meat, fish or poultry.
10 Quick Recommendations You’ll Love
Here are the beautiful combinations that I recommend.
- Salmon and Chardonnay
- Red meat and Cabernet
- Rosé with cheese foods
- Tangy flavors and Sauvignon Blanc
- Grigio wine and seafood
- Pinot Noir with earthy flavors
- Salty and sparkling flavors
- Dishes with spices and Syrah
- Riesling wine and spicy and sweet flavors
- Rich plates and Zinfandel
The Bottom Line – Always select the food and wine you love
You need to make sure that the wine you choose to accompany your meal is the one you like. You probably won’t appreciate a glass of white wine with meals if you don’t drink it often. Keep doing what you love, then get out of there.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that food and wine pairing is arbitrary. While there are some basic criteria for wine pairing, these are not absolute. Instead, follow your own preferences and you won’t go wrong.