As I sit here preparing for another wine-tasting next weekend, I always try to think of some of the questions people might ask, so I can be prepared to answer them. One of the questions that I always get asked, in a variety of ways, it’s how to pair wine and food properly. Gone are the days where it is expected you drink white wine with fish and red wine with red meat. It’s all about choosing a wine you like, to make the meal more enjoyable. You are not going to enjoy your meal, if you don’t like the wine!
There are some basic things you can keep in mind.
- Salt vs Acidity
Saltiness in food is a great contrast to acidity in wine. I really love Thai food and Chinese cuisine, which I really enjoy pairing a Riesling with. A lot of these dishes contain soy sauce, which is salty and the Riesling cuts through that saltiness . Think smoked salmon and Champagne/ Sparkling Wine or Parmesan cheese with a Chianti wine. A wine with a bit of acidity will really cut through and compliment the saltiness of food.
2. High Fat Foods with Full-bodied Wines
There is a reason a big bold Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with a big juicy steak. Foods high in fats, like red meat, or dishes that contain heavy cream, usually calls for a more intense full-bodied wine. Think Chardonnay for white wine drinkers and Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot for the red wine drinkers.
3. Fruity dishes + Fruity Wine
Any dishes that have a fruit component, for example, duck with figs, chicken with an orange or peach glaze, or pork with apples or apple sauce, think a fruity wine. If you are a red wine drinker think Pinot Noir! If you’re a white wine drinker, think Riesling again or a fruity Pinot Grigio. The fruitiness of the wine won’t compete with the fruit in the dish, they go hand in hand.
4. Sweet with Sweet
Pairing dessert wines with dessert can be a little tricky. In one of my very first classes when I was learning to become a Sommelier, the instructor said the wine in the glass should be sweeter than whatever’s on the dessert plate. If the desert is sweeter than the wine, your wine is going to taste dull and flat. And if you are not a fan of sweet dessert wines, no worries, enjoy your dessert with your favourite hot coffee.
5. Keep It Simple
It’s really easy to overthink wine and food pairing. I always say to people, keep it simple. If you are a white wine drinker, experiment with different white wines and different foods. You’ll not only become a pro at recommended pairings, you’ll have a lot of fun in the process. Same goes for my red wine loving friends. Don’t be afraid to step out side of your wine comfort zone and try a new wine with a favourite dish. A person doesn’t have to be a professional to recommend a wine with a dish, if you like the pairing, chances are one of your friends will like it.
Have a great weekend, until next weekend, cheers