Pairing wine with food can be quite the delicious task, to combine each in a way that they taste better together than on their own. It’s an art to find a winning pairing, to either match by contrasting or complimenting each component for the ultimate gastronomical enhancement. So to give us some pointers, we looked to Food and Wine magazine for a few tips on how to create that perfect pairing.
- Pairing Rule #1: Serve a dry rosé with hors d’oeuvres
The best of both worlds: the fresh acidity and light body of a white wine is combined with a fruity red to make a great rosé, making it easy to pair with a wide range of hors d’oeuvres. Try a Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel rose 2005 (France) with some appetizers like cheese puffs or a crudité platter.
- Pairing Rule #2: Serve an unoaked white wine with lemon or lime
White wines like Sauvignon Blanc, that are made in stainless steal tanks instead of oak barrels, have bright, citrus acidity that cuts out lemon or lime notes. Pair this Zorzal Sauvignon Blanc 2011 with a variety of dishes ranging from salads made with a citrus dressing, scallops in a lemon-butter sauce, or grilled lime-fish tacos.
- Pairing Rule #3: Try low-alcohol wines with spicy foods
Too much alcohol in wine will bring out the oils that make spicy food contain that kick. For pairing dishes like a mouth burning curry or pepper induced soup, go for a German Riesling that not only has a low alcohol level, but also a touch of sweetness that will counteract the spice.
- Pairing Rule #4: Match rich red meats with tannic reds
What are tannins anyway? The astringency from tannins are key in red wine as its what gives it its structure. Detected by the back of the tongue, high-tannin wine is ideally paired with a rich red meat or hard cheese, since the protein and fat can soften the perception of tannins in wine, making the wine seem less bitter. For a playful pairing, why not try a Riglos Gran Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 with a cheddar cheeseburger?
- Pairing Rule #5: With lighter meats, pair the wine with the sauce
When cooking many lighter meats, the primary flavors aren’t in the proteins. Look to the sauce to help you with your pairing, if you are eating linguini with chicken in a lemon white wine sauce you could pair it with a Sauvignon Blanc, while if you are eating Chicken Marsala you’d probably want a red, like Pinot Noir. Chicken Tikka Masala, the classic Indian heavily spiced dish, goes nicely with a Gewürztraminer, like Rutini Gewürztraminer 2009 de Bodega La Rural for its floral and spicy aroma that harmonizes well with the intense flavors of the Tikka Masala.
- Pairing Rule #6: Choose earthy wines with earthy foods
Many winning pairing combinations occur when foods and wine mimic each other. Earthiness found in foods like mushrooms, truffles or even bison steaks pair well with earth reds. Why not try a 2004 Venturi Schulze Pinot Noir with a Mushroom-Shallot Ragout.
- Pairing Rule #7: For desserts, go with a lighter wine
When pairing sweet on sweet on sweet (dessert on dessert wine) it’s much too easy to overwhelm the taste buds with sickly sweetness. That’s why it’s recommended to go with a less sweet dessert wine, like a Moscato d’Asti with roasted pears or a Madeira with Dulce de Leche Crispies.
For more recipes and pairing tips, check out Food and Wine’s 7 Rules for Perfect Pairing.