Food and wine go together like hand in glove, love and marriage, well you know what I mean.
Though this cliche does not always ring true if we’re eating the wrong foods. Well, not always eating the wrong foods, just the wrong foods for the wine.
There are lots of rules when it comes to pairing wine and food although we know that rules are made to be broken. But there are a few things to know that can help us.
To enjoy our food and wine together is to figure out what makes them compatible. Not an easy task but we can start with the basics.
However, there is something to be said about some of the wine and food pairing rules. The first important thing to keep in mind is that everyone has a different palate and their likes and dislikes are different. Your favorite pairing may not be your BFF’s favorite.
- A social gathering is one element that can almost guarantee the pleasure of enjoying your food and wine — “almost” is the key word here, but it’s worth trying.
- The style of wine has the elements of alcohol, acid, tannins, body style of light to medium, sugars or sweetness all of which affect our palates.
- Choose foods and wines of similar weight. For example choose a light wine to go with a light fish or chicken dish. For heavy beef dishes choose a heavy style wine such as Cabernet.
- Choose a wine from the same region as the food. French wine with French food, Italian wine with Italian food but keep in mine the “region” is the key — northern Italian foods are very different from southern Italian foods. This applies to every country/region around the globe.
Now for the more interesting palate “crashers”. These are some of the food flavors that need special attention when choosing a wine.
- Hot and spicy foods — these will overwhelm a wine’s flavors. Choose a wine that is an inexpensive, easy drinking wine. A chilled sparkling wine, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer with a hint of sweetness will help cut through the heat and flavors. Depending on the heat and strong flavors of the dish, sometimes it’s best to choose a cold, non-alcoholic beverage.
- Acidic foods such as the fermented varieties of sauerkraut, pickles or other foods preserved with vinegar cannot be hidden and can make a wine pairing difficult. Sometimes it is best just to avoid these foods with wines.
- Sweet foods usually have more sugar content than the sugar content in wine. Very sweet foods can make even the most well balanced wines seem sour. Avoid the very sweet tropical dried fruits since their sugar content is the highest. The usual rule for sweets is to have a wine that is as sweet or sweeter than the dessert.
- Salty foods can be difficult to pair with wine. Although you might say then why do Champagne and caviar go together? Usually salty foods are combined with other food elements. The caviar is sometimes served with a dollop of sour cream. This element adds a bit of fat for a fuller flavor profile. The bubbles and the acidity of a Champagne or sparkling wine can cut through it.
These are just a few suggestions to help you choose a wine you will enjoy drinking with the foods you enjoy eating. So if you like what you are drinking then it’s right for you even if your dinner partners don’t share your enthusiasm.