Some things get better with age, so the saying about wine and cheese goes. True enough, wine and cheese go better together, and they do taste better over time. However, there are other types of food that are best enjoyed with wine, if you know some pairing basics.
Before proceeding, it should be clear that there are no hard and fast rules about wine and food pairings. But, as wine afficionados say, it’s best to know the fundamental rules before experimenting on how to break them. This article has rounded up some useful tips in pairing your favorite bottle with your every day and special-occasion food staples.
The Basic Rules Of Wine And Food Pairing
Wines can be grouped into these major classifications according to the taste they leave on your palate.
- Acidity. Like any other substances, wine acidity levels are measured by pH levels. Wines with a high level of acidity will usually taste crisper and tart. On the other hand, wines with low acidity levels will feel smoother. Sparkling wines, white wines, and rose wines have more intense acidity over others.
- Bitterness. The bitterness in this alcoholic beverage is generated by flavonoid phenols and ethanol. The high level of tannins also produces bitter-tasting wines. Generally speaking, red wines taste sharper compared to other types.
- Sweetness. This one’s straightforward—sweet wines taste sweeter than the rest. Controlling the sweetness in wine relies mainly on the fermentation time during the production process (the shorter duration, the sweeter), maturity of the types of grapes used to make wine, and drying the grapes under the sun.
Choosing the perfect bottle of wine to match your food requires you to know the taste created by the mingling of the main ingredients, and the types of herbs and sauces used to make the dish. If you want to elicit the deep flavors and aromas of your red wine, go to this site to find the best wine aerators and decanters.
In order to come up with successful pairings, consider these two methods:
- Congruent Pairing
A congruent pairing aims to strike a balance on your palate by enhancing shared flavor compounds between the food and the wine. In this method, the pairing is decided based on the similarities of the compound of flavor shared between them.
For instance, pairing a sweet wine with a slightly sugary meal, buying sweet wines to go with fruity sauces, or choosing a red wine with a buttery after taste to go with a pasta dish. Real-life examples include taking Viognier, a creamy white wine, to match the butter- and cream-heavy sauce of a traditional macaroni and cheese dish.
The only rule of thumb for this pairing is not to allow wine flavors to dominate over the food flavors to avoid the entire meal from going bland.
- Contrasting Or Complementary Pairing
Complementary pairing works by matching food and wine that don’t share the same flavor or compounds, but complement each other. The contrasting elements and tastes of the two complement each other, creating a balanced taste.
For example, a glass of sweet wine, like Chardonnay, can help balance the saltiness of a certain dish, like bacon. The saltiness from the food helps reduce the sweetness of the wine and amplifies the wine’s fruity taste and aroma. Chilled white wines would also go well with spicy food as they cool down and balance the spiciness of the dish. Rosé, white, and sparkling wines typically make for excellent choices for contrasting pairings.
Now that you know the basic pairing methods, take heed of the following tips to further boost your confidence in choosing the best food and wine combinations:
- Choose a wine that’s sweeter and more acidic than the food on the table.
- Wine and food should be on the same level of flavor intensity.
- The general rule is to pair white wines with light dishes, like chicken and fish, and red wines are best for heavier dishes, like beef or lamb. Grilled meat is also best paired with red wine.
- Sometimes, it can be challenging to pair wines with meat dishes that are taken with a heavy sauce. In these instances,pair the wine with the sauce, not the meat.
- Red wines, which are typically more bitter than the other types, are best taken with foods high in fat.
Start your journey by understanding the major taste and flavor elements in both the food and the wine before getting creative with your pairing methods. Consider your personal preferences at first, and move on with more flavorful and fuller bodied wines to match your favorite dish. Also, don’t forget to enjoy while exploring the different combinations that work best for your palate.