Pairing the right wine with the right food is not rocket science, however when done well it is an exquisite and well-appreciated art form. Here is your basic guide to understanding the art of pairing food with wine.
#1 Match the weight and style
Your selection of wine should complement the food on your plate. Check for the balance between richness and weight, for both food and wine. An exuberant food needs a vigorous wine to enhance its characteristics. A classic wine and food match is always balanced. For example, go for the robust Cabernet if you have grilled lamb chops on your plate.
How to check the “weight”?
A foods weight is determined by its fat consistency. However, wine can be differentiated by its colour, alcohol level, and grape type. Any wine containing more than 14% alcohol is considered heavy.
#2 Do not go for a colour match
Selecting the right type of wine depends on the style and weight of food and not on the colour of the food served.
Remember you are pairing wine with food and not your new designer dress with a pair of shoes! Pairing white meat with white wine and red meat with red wine is a total misconception. Chicken, fish, and pork all go well with a light red wine.
#3 Match the structure and texture
Elements in wine are naturally balanced on their own, but can increase or decrease the wines intensity, depending on the food the wine is paired with. Sweetness in wine can go well with a little sweetness on your plate. However, dry wines can turn sour if paired with sweet food items.
Wines high in acidity perfectly match with foods containing vinegar or lemon. Acid present in these foods gives the wine a soft texture. However, a sweet or savoury filling in the food can turn wines flaccid.
The bitterness of tannins present in wine complements salty and spicy flavours. Robust wines like Cabernet when paired with rich and fatty foods turn smoother. However, too much spice can adversely react with tannins and alcohol.
#4 Add salt, avoid oak
Flavouring your choice of wine with a pinch of salt can enhance the intensity of the wine. A little salt makes your wine milder and fruitier. However, it would be wise to avoid pairing any oaked wine with food. Oak is a very strong flavour that can diminish the natural flavour of your food.
#5 Age matters
Wine gains its royal texture and intensity in flavour with age. The bitterness of tannins start subsiding with age, and the wine becomes more subtle, delicate, and graceful. Foods with less richness and little flavour go well with older wines. This pairing gives aged wine the ability to enhance the texture and flavour of these types of foods.
#6 Link the wine flavour with food
Pairing food with wine is always fun. Wines have their own distinctive aroma and flavour. Some with earthy aromas and others with the aroma of fruits and spices can echo well if paired with the right type of food. Consider selecting a dish with currants for robust wines like Cabernet. Dark fruit flavours can create magic with a pinch of natural herbs.
#7 Keep it simple
Focusing solely on creating a heavenly experience can end up spoiling your meal as well as the enjoyment of your chosen wine. Select the wine that you love to drink, instead of going too deep into the complexities of bitter and sweet. The main aim is to enjoy your chosen wine.
The same goes for the food. If you notice we drink wine more before or after dinner. While having our meal, we tend to have only one or two sips of wine, so it is best not to delve too much into perfection.
Basics of Pairing Wine with Food
Light dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are best suited for dishes with green vegetables, roasted vegetables, fish, and foods high in carbohydrate content. Sweet white wines like Chenin Blanc complement desserts, smoked meat, and soft cheese. Foods high in carbs can also go well with rich white wines like Chardonnay, light red wines like Grenache and any dessert wine.
Medium and bold red wines are a great combination when served with red or smoked meat. Sparkling wines like Champagne and Cava should never be paired with desserts or red meat dishes. They are best when paired with green vegetables, cheeses, fish, and foods high in carbohydrates.
Chocolate flavoured wines don’t pair well with food. Bitter flavours of chocolate combined with bitter tannins can spoil your meal.
Keep these pointers in mind for your next wining and dining experience.
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