The Art of Pairing Wine and Food
Food and wine have gone together since the dawn of time and as wine lovers I'm sure you've often wondered what you'll be eating when you get your hands on a really exciting bottle of wine. Special occasions are made extra memorable when you get the pairing of the food that you prepared, with the wine poured, just right.
The goal of food pairing is to have the food and wine complement each other but if you choose carefully you can sometimes even enhance the flavors of the dishes and wine you're offering guests.
So let's run down a few guidelines recognizing that we are all different with unique tastes and preferences but if you follow these tips you'll give yourself the best possible chance of a successful food and wine pairing.
You've probably heard of some classic matches such as goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc but where you really start to enjoy yourself is when you experiment with different foods and wines. Keep in mind that flavors in wine originate from certain basic components: acid, sugar, tannin and alcohol. In a similar fashion the flavor components of food, fat, acid, salt, sugar and bitter shine the brightest when they complement the elements, textures and richness of the wine.
One way to experiment is to think of a wine that will be very similar to your food, so you might pour a big buttery Chardonnay with a pasta in a cream sauce. Conversely you can be just as successful taking the opposite path by pairing that rich cream sauce with a dry, unoaked white wine to cut through the creamy fat.
Many of the foods we love have high levels of fat (it's why gyms were invented!) and of course wine doesn't contain fat. So when considering which wine to pour with a fatty food remember that acid and tannins in wine balance out that richness to create a great pairing.
Have you ever noticed how a good cut of steak tastes so good when paired with a quality Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc? The protein and fat in the beef softens the wine's characteristic mouth drying tannins getting you ready to really appreciate the fruit that the winemaker has created for you to savor.
Consider how acid in a wine adds a fresh kick in the same way a lemon might do when served with salmon or over steamed vegetables. If you know the food you're preparing is going to have acidic qualities make sure your wine can stand up to them other wise it will taste bland and lose its characteristics. The tangy dressings on salads offer a challenge to hosts wanting to offer a good matching wine so think about the herbal flavors so often found in Sauvignon Blanc or Semillons.
Of course when you get to the final course of your meal you want a wine that will impress your guests as much as that amazing desert you have just served! The basic rule with desert pairing is to always serve wine that is sweeter than the desert otherwise you risk the dish tasting bitter or tart.
Whatever your choice of food and wine pairing remember that a little preparation and research will go a long way to enhancing any meal and allow you to truly Celebrate Life!
(Source: Wine Enthusiast)
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