7 Tips for the Best Food and Wine Pairings
Food and wine are two of the things that can work together in a million inexplicable ways. One can complement, elevate, and express the other in the most creative ways if paired right. Finding the perfect wine match for your food comes with a beautiful experience that can cement into your memories.
There are several things to consider when choosing your food and wine pairing. If you are not a food or wine connoisseur and are unsure about what wine to pair with your dinner tonight, you have nothing to worry about, for we have you covered. We have listed many ways to make your food and wine choice a match made in heaven. However, it is important to remember that these are guidelines to explore, not rules to follow blindly. What works for other people may not work for you, but our tips will surely get you started on your experimentation journey.
Spicy food and sweet wine
Although most wines contain sugar low enough to be untraceable, some wines do tend to taste sweeter than others. One of the best ways to pair sweet wines is with spicy foods. Now, why does this pairing work? Picture this: you have just had a bite of spicy Korean pork cutlet, and your tongue is steaming. Of course, you could go for a glass of water to help wash down the spicy flavors lingering inside your mouth, but nothing works better than a mouthful of something sweet to give you the needed relief.
Just as a spoonful of honey works perfectly to help you recover from spicy food, a glass of sweet wine will give you the necessary sweet relief after consuming something hot and steamy. Likewise, if you have spicy food or smoked meats for dinner, muscadine wine, with its sweet flavor, will go perfectly with your meal.
Consider the acidity
To understand what acidity is, think of the taste you get right after you bite a lemon. Think of the sour rush, the flinching sharp flavor exploding into your mouth. All wines contain acidity, although the level of acidity may vary across different wines. Acidic wines usually go well with acidic foods, such as those with dominating citrus, tomato, or vinegar flavors.
Acidic food can be overpowering and rich; a high acidity wine works perfectly to catch up to that richness. Therefore, settling on a bottle of wine with equal or higher acidity from your food is better. Going for a less acidic wine in the face of high-acid foods will make it taste flat, leaving you chasing for more.
Sweet and sweeter
Just as acidic foods go well with a more acidic wine, sweet foods go well with a sweeter wine. Conversely, if you have a bitter wine with a dish of high sweetness, it will most likely taste catastrophic to your palate.
Imagine having an artichoke and chocolate together- that would taste as unflattering as it seems. Likewise, having two foods with flavors on opposite ends of the spectrum leaves you feeling off-kilter because you are chasing a distance towards the balance that is too vast to bridge. The same is the case with bitter wines and sweet dishes.
For sweet dishes, go for a sweeter wine. Desserts, and other sweet dishes, can vary in their sweetness level. Luckily, the choices for sweet wine are also great in number. So choose your wine according to the sweetness level of your meal, and you should be good to go.
Fatty foods and tannins
If you have had persimmons before, you may know what tannins mean. Tannins are the gritty particles that leave a certain dryness in your mouth. Extracted from the skins, stems, and seeds of grapes, tannins can be found in wines of all varieties. However, red wine is often more tannic than other wines.
Since tannic wines tend to leave a drying sensation in your mouth, pairing them with rich food helps soften their astringency. For this reason, foods high in fat work perfectly with highly tannic wines. Try an aged red wine with your next buttery and oily meal, and you will see where the magic in this pairing lies.
Explore more wines with cheese
If you think of pairing wine with cheese, your mind probably leans towards red wine. Pairing cheese with red wine is traditional, tried, and known, but it is also the most obvious choice. However, to expand your palate, explore other wine choices with cheese. For instance, white wines, sparkling wines, and light-bodied red wines are other wine options that will go well with your cheesy dishes.
Although red wine is the more popular choice, cheese tastes far better than white wine. The freshness, sweetness, and acidity that white wine offers work well with many types of cheese, especially Gouda, Creamy Camembert, and Brie.
Pair your wine with the most dominating element of your dish
We are not talking about the main ingredient: often, the main element and the main ingredient are not the same. Your main element is what makes the show, the main character pulling the strings on your plate. If you order a chicken steak, your chicken may not have a presence as dominating as the sauce or the seasoning.
Pair your wine with your dish’s focal point, which is not always the meat served. Instead, choose the side, the sauce, or the vegetable that makes the dish great, and see what wine could go well with it.
If confused, pair food and wine from the same region
This one is for the books: if you can’t decide on a food-wine pairing, go with something from the same region. While this won’t ensure you reach the perfect mix, it will allow you to experiment with tastes from the same place. For instance, try a Chianti wine with Italian food, a Pinot Noir with beef bourguignon, and a Sauvignon Blanc with goat cheese.
Our advice is to go with your gut. Getting the right taste is all about experimenting and trying. You will never know what fit might strike your fancy unless you try it out. If you think a particular wine would go well with your food than the other, go with it. Food and wine pairings are subjective, and you may not like the match that other people do, which is perfectly normal. At the end of the day, it is all about finding the pair that satisfies your taste buds.
When experimenting, some of your instincts may prove you right, while some may prove you wrong. But don’t worry- getting an unflattering mix is no mistake but an experience. You can always learn, move on, and continue exploring.