The world of fine wine and cuisine is a delicious one, and it is often presented as full of rules. Supposedly, certain types of wine pair better with certain foods.
Yes, this is true, but the fundamental “rule” of wine and food pairing is simple: drink wine you love before, during, or after eating food you love! Ultimately, you are your own best guide. With that being said, there are some cleverly assembled tips available to begin practicing the art of wine pairing. We have an affinity for both fine wine and cuisine and are happy to share our tips with you.
Wine Pairings 101
Sweet on Sweet
As far as delectable confections are concerned, sweet goes with sweet. Imagine eating a rich mouse pudding in between sips of a bold, acidic red wine. Not a smooth experience. Instead, choose a sweet port to pair with your deserts.
Acidic With Acidic
Here is yet another example of like attracting like; acidic wine pairs really well with acidic food. After going through the painstaking process of cooking a mouthwatering meal, the last thing you want is to have the flavors of the food masked by the acidity of the wine. Consider choosing a Chianti or Barolo to go with your grandmother’s pasta sauce recipe.
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Tannins and Meat
The tannins within red wine cause that recognizable bitter taste and feel. Every wine has some tannins, but certain wines have a higher amount. Foods high in fat soften the bitter tannin effect, which is why rich meat dishes are often paired with robust red wines.
The Unique Scenario of Fish and Wine
When it comes to pairing fish with wine, the predominant consideration is the acid and tannin level of each libation. If you’re cooking with a high acid fish, then a high acid wine will compliment it nicely. On the other hand, fish doesn’t mix as well with a high tannin wine, which is prevalent in reds. An acidic white wine is a reliable choice.
Flavor is Key
As you might have gathered by now, wine and food pairing is based on the mixing of flavors. One incredibly flavorful component of cuisine are the sauces. Sure, you may have ordered a steak, but is the steak going to be drenched in a sauce or glaze? If so, pair the wine with that, rather than the meat; otherwise, it might be a strange combination. A high acid sauce goes well with high acid wine and vice versa.
If this an area that speaks to your soul (and your tastebuds, of course), it may be useful to keep a small wine pairing journal. Every time you find a particularly great pairing while out eating, make a note of the food, flavors, and the wine. Some people study the intricacies of wine pairing officially, but it’s also fun to simply keep track and take notes of what works well and what doesn’t!