Effectively pairing food and wine allows you to enhance your enjoyment of both. Eating certain foods while sipping on a complementary wine brings the flavors of both the food and wine alive, creating a synergy that is sure to please and excite your palate.
No Rules for Food and Wine Pairing
There really are no set rules when matching the right food to the right wine, there are merely suggestions. Intrepid culinary explorers have often hit upon a combination of food and wine that's electrifying, and they would never have stumbled across that food and wine pairing if they were following rules. So if you want to give a certain food and wine combination a try, then there's nothing saying you can't. Be brave and boldly create a combination that sounds good to you. However, it's also perfectly fine to seek guidance, consulting food and wine pairing charts or trying wine with chocolate or wine with cheese. While there are no set rules, some wines do lend themselves better to certain types of food, and other wines or foods may need center stage and are just best enjoyed on their own.
Tips for Perfect Food and Wine Pairings
In order to get on your way to becoming a food pairings master, you should remember these quick tips:
- When you drink the wine you love, you will rarely, if ever, go wrong.
- When in doubt, choose a simple, easy to drink wine with food.
- Pinot Noir goes with just about every type of meal from gourmet fare to barbecue.
- If the food is overly complicated, stick with a less complicated wine.
- Pair bold to bold and light to light. For example, a light, herbal Sauvignon Blanc is perfect with a light summer salad or grilled fish.
- If you're unsure of whether a red or a white wine would be best, consider a rosé instead.
- Sweeter or richer wines are delicious with desserts - or as a dessert themselves.
- Eat fatty meats to cut through highly tannic wines.
- Champagne and dry sparkling wines pair well with almost everything.
- Sometimes a sweet, acidic wine such as a sweet German Riesling pairs beautifully with something spicy such as Thai food because it balances flavors.
- Pair wines from a given country with that country's cuisine.
Some Foods Don't Pair Well With Wine
It's also important to understand that some foods simply don't pair well with wine. These are typically very flavorful foods (such as blue cheese, which will overpower almost anything it's paired with, or soy sauce, which has such strong umami flavors that it overrides any pleasure you'll get in a wine). Other foods that don't pair well with wines include artichokes, which contain a compound that makes the wines taste "off" when you drink them, and certain cruciferous vegetables, which have sulfur compounds that will overpower most wines.
Wine Pairings for Holiday Foods
Of particular interest to many wine enthusiasts is how to find the perfect wines to share with friends and family during holiday meals. Since holiday meals, such as Thanksgiving dinner, can be so varied in the foods you serve, many people struggle to find the perfect wine for the meal. Fortunately, you have many different wines you can serve for Thanksgiving, so try a suggested wine or branch out on your own. You can even try pairing different wines for each course of your holiday meal.
Pairing wine and food is an art and an adventure. If you like to explore flavor, then try various wines with different foods and see what you like. You may just discover the perfect combination.