Here’s some tricks of the trade when it comes to food & wine pairings. Of course, drinking wine in excess is not beneficial to your health and wellness, nor is consuming an abundance of food in one sitting. Food & wine consumed in both adequate portions is not only appetizing but also better for your well-being.
General guidelines to get started pairing your favorite foods and wine
- Drink what you like: What you like to drink is going to take precedence over any recommendation I would suggest.
- Take into consideration the dish as a whole. What encompasses the dish, and what are its dominant characteristics? Does the dish taste rich or acidic? Is it mild or flavorful? Is it fatty or lean? And yes, these characteristics matter due to the balance of flavors.
- Keep flavors balanced: With the dish’s characteristics in mind, choose a wine that does just this (keeps flavors in balance). Match mild foods with mild wines or match big, flavorful foods with big, flavorful wines. Likewise, you generally want to match the richness of the food and the richness of the wine.
- Cleanse the palate with tanins or acids: Tannin tastes similar to the flavor you would get if you sucked on a tea bag. This sharp flavor is what helps strip the fats from your tongue and thereby cleanse the palate of the rich fats from a meal, providing for a refined, refreshing drink.
- Match acids with acids: If you’re eating a dish with a strong acidic content, pair it with an acidic wine that can keep up with the acids in the food.
- Acidic wines and cream don’t mix: Would it taste good if you squeezed lemon juice into a cup of milk? That’s what rich cream paired with an acidic wine would taste like.
- Wine and strong spices: Strong spices, such as spices in some Chinese and Indian foods, can clash and destroy the flavors in a wine. In most cases of spicy food, wine is not the ideal drink.
- When in doubt: Remember that foods generally go best with the wines they grew up with. For instance, if you’re eating Italian food, think about having Italian wine.
- Rich white – Chardonnay, Oaked Whites, Viognier
- These flavors are best paired with roasted veggies, carbs, rich fish, and white meats.
- Sweet white – Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Moscato
- Sweet wine is friendlier to the taste buds than most wines, so you have to be picky with food choice. It pairs well with soft cheeses, carbs, cured and smoked meats, and desserts. I know, right? Dessert? It’s just how it is.
- Light, dry wine – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Albarino,
- These flavors are best paired with veggies (etiher green or roasted), carbs, and fish.
- Sparkling wine – Champagne, Franciacorta, Prosecco, Cava
- This wine has never seen a bubble they didn’t like, but it’s fairly easy on the taste buds. It is best paired with green vegetables, soft and hard cheeses, carbs, and fish.
- Light red – Pinot Nior, Grenache, Pinotage, Gamay
- These flavors best pair with roasted veggies, carbs, rich fish, and white meats.
- Medium red – Sangiovese, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Tempranillo
- Now, the taste is beginning to get a bit more bitter and not as light on the taste buds. Couple these favors with hard cheeses, carbs, white and red meats, and cured and smoked meats.
- Big red – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Zifandel, Mourvedre, Aglianico
- The name is indicative of the flavor and the tastes that go along with this type of wine, Pair it with hard cheeses, red meats, and cured and smoked meats.
- Dessert wine – Port & Tammy Port, Sherry, Late Harvest, Tokaji
- Who knew there was actually dessert wine? It’s the best of both worlds, an alcoholic beverage and an indulgent sweet, and pairs best with soft cheeses, carbs, cured and smoked meats, and desserts.
There are some foods out there such as asparagus, green beans, artichoke, brussel sprouts, and chocolate that are difficult to pair with wine. The rule of thumb on these foods would be to just pair your wine with the most strongly flavored food in your dish.
It’s nice to indulge in the finer things in life. Just follow these simple guidelines and you will be in food and wine heaven!
Food&Wine Pairings: A Foodie’s Guide to becoming
a Food & Wine Connoisseur
Written by Maya Bramletta
September 2016 | Health&Life