Learn to become your own taste testing expert by trying various approaches to mixing and matching wine and food combinations. Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to pairing wine and food. What counts is your opinion. Learn to become your own expert.
The Traditional Approach to Wine and Food Pairings
This approach states that only certain foods will work well with certain wines. Period. We all know the adage that says fish goes with white wine, and tomato based dishes go with red wine. Is this approach always correct? Sometimes, but not always. It is basically a rough guideline with an element of truth in it, namely that white wine will not overpower the taste of many types of fish, and red wine enhances the taste of tomato based dishes.
Enhancing Food Flavor with Wine
A sauce can totally change the flavor of a dish, and thus the wine you’re drinking. If the dish is heavy or spicy balance that fullness with an equally robust wine such as a white Chardonnay or a red Cabernet Sauvignon. Just like lemons or limes are used to enhance the flavor of fish or the avocadoes in guacamole, acid in wine acts to enhance the flavor of the food. A wine high in acidity is a good choice for dishes with cream or cheese sauces.
If you prefer to use a full-proof approach to pairing wine and food there are a few guidelines to follow. Choose a wine that will work well with any dish. These types of wines allow the meal, not the wine, to take center stage. Here are a few wines in this category:
- Pinot Grigio
- Sauvignon Blanc
- German Reisling
- Poilly-Fumé and Sancerre
- Champagne/Sparkling Wine
- Chianti Classico
- Cotes du Rhone
- Pinot Noir
Any type of White Zinfandel or Rosé wine works well with any dish. The above method works well with less adventurous wine drinkers, or if you at a restaurant sharing a bottle of wine with several people.
The Cultural Approach to Food and Wine
Match wines and food by the place where they were made. This allows for the greatest cultural expression of the wine, and is very much in line with the French idea of terroir – all the people, places, and things that make up a wine, such as soils, weather, and history of a place, contribute in a harmonious manner to make the wine a unique substance.
Try matching wine from a country with the cuisine from that country – some ideas for wine and food pairings:
- Moussaka with a Xinomavro (Greece)
- Smoked Salmon Soufflé with Beaujolais (French)
- Veal Paella with a Rioja Reserva (Spanish)
- Chicken Cacciatore with a Bardolino (Italian)
- Weiner Schnitzel with a Kabinett (German)
The Opposites Attract Approach to Food and Wine
This approach is similar to paring weird color combinations. Who would have thought that brown and pink would be considered fashionable color pairings for haute couture design? Another way of thinking about it is the “sweet and sour” approach. Sweet and sour ingredients blend harmoniously in the classic Asian pork dish, and they can work equally well with wine. Some wine and food pairing ideas:
- Pinot Noir (red and fruity) with smoked ham, turkey or salmon
- Moscato (white and sweet) with a blue cheese such as Stilton, or other pungent or salty cheeses
What is paired together today will be considered popular tomorrow, so feel free to invent and conceptualize.