July 29th 2011

Food and wine pairing: what to know

Finding a great wine and food match is a pleasure. Not only do they taste better together than they each do on their own, but it also gives you a little bit of victory: you’ve found a winner.

Wine can be overwhelming: there are so many flavors, styles, and brands to choose from. Doing some quick probability and permutations with all of the different foods and tastes from around the world… well, you’re left with countless possibilities.

Here are a few basic tips to help you get started in making the best combinations for you. But overall, do what tastes good. Not only is it an art and science to bring it together, but you have to love it, too.

Look for balance

You never want your food to be too intense for the wine, but, similarly, you don’t want the taste of the wine to overpower the food.  Take a moment to consider the flavors and textures of both the wine and the food.

Find the flavour

Try to figure out what the most dominant flavor in the food is, then match the wine to it. Usually it is the sauce, marinade or seasonings rather than the food itself.  So if you choose chicken or steak, determine what is on it and match that, instead always using a perfect wine that “always goes with chicken”. Another tip: add a bit of the wine you are serving to the sauce or marinade for  the best match!

Match the cuisine

Regional wine styles complement the cuisine of that area, so if you’re not sure, go for a regional wine pairing that matches your dish.

Think of the acid

Acidity in food can make a wine without much acidity taste bland, so the wine needs enough acidity to balance it out.

Consider the sweetness

Sweetness in food also needs to be balanced; the wine needs a bit to match it. If you’re serving wine with dessert, choose one that is at least as sweet as what you are serving.

Take in the tannins

Tannins are a part of the wine that comes from skins, seeds and stems of grapes. They’re mostly found in red wine and leave an astringent feeling in your mouth. To keep them at bay, pair a wine with high tannins to one that is high in protein. The protein coats your mouth and makes the tannins that are in the wine seem smoother and less astringent.

Look at the alcohol

The amount of the alcohol content in the wine can largely impact its taste with the food. This is especially true when you’re eating something spicy. Why? Alcohol intensifies the spice! So pairing a very spicy curry with high-alcohol wine isn’t the best choice. Instead, opt for something a little sweeter with a lower alcohol level.

Post a Comment

Andrew's Biography

Email this Author with comments or questions.

Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.