Simple Wine and Food Pairing Tips

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“The ultimate destination of wine is on the table, with food. Serve the same wine with two different dishes and you will have two different opinions of it.” ~George Stevenson – Winery Chef in Washington State, U.S.A.

Simple Wine and Food Pairing Tips

While the general advice is to simply "drink what you like", but if you want to do better than what you've always done, than stick around, it's about to get interesting; while drink what you like to drink still takes precedence over any recommendation that I or anyone else might make, but if you want to elevate your game, then read on.

Start by thinking about the dish or meal as a whole. What are its dominant characteristics?

Is it mild or flavorful?
Is it fatty or lean?
Is it creamy or acidic?

With these characteristics in mind, select a bottle of wine that will: Keep flavors in balance and match mild foods with mild wines. Match big, flavorful foods with big, flavorful wines. For example, pair a bold-flavored Pepper Steak with a spicy, bold red Zinfandel. Similarly, you generally want to match the richness of the food and the richness of the wine. For example, pair a rich Chicken in Cream Sauce with a rich Chardonnay.

Cleanse the palate with tannins or acids if you're eating a relatively rich, 'fatty' dish and thinking about drinking red wines with some 'grip' when noshing on a T-bone, for example.  You probably want a bottle of wine with some good tannins in it to help cleanse the palate.

If you're eating a very rich, 'fatty' dish and thinking about drinking white wine (when you eat fried chicken, for example) you probably want to contrast the meal with a refreshingly crisp acidic wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Italian Pinot Gris. You can ignore this rule for dishes that are relatively fatty - such as Chicken in Cream Sauce - which will probably do better with a rich Chardonnay that can match their rich flavors.

Match Acids with Acids If you're eating a dish with a strong acidic content (such as Shrimp with Lemon or Pasta with Tomato Sauce) pair it with an acidic wine that can keep up with the acids in the food. 

Acidic Wines and Cream Don't Mix Rich cream sauces will usually clash with an acidic wine like a Sauvignon Blanc. Think about it this way, if you squeezed lemon juice into a cup of milk, would it taste good?

Strong spices, such as hot chili peppers in some Chinese or Indian food, can clash and destroy the flavors of many types of wine. However, if a glass of wine is what you must have with your meal, consider something to contrast the heat, go sweet, such as an off-dry Gewürztraminer, German Riesling or Chenin Blanc.

When In Doubt: In my experience, when I'm not sure what to pair, I find it best to follow the old tried and true pairing advice, what goes together, grows together. So if you're eating Italian food, think about having an Italian wine with the meal, depending on whether it's southern or northern Italy. Remember, the axiom “when in Rome,” this often helps simplify the decision.

More About Tannins: Tannins can come from many places, including the skins of the grapes used in winemaking to extract color, flavors and aromas and also the wood barrels which are part of the aging process.

Picture This: Tannins tastes similar to the flavor you would get if you sucked on a tea bag. This astringent flavor is what helps strip the fats from your tongue and thereby cleanse the palate of the rich fats from a meal and provide a refined, refreshing drink and enhances the taste of your food.

Heart Healthy: Some studies have also indicated that tannins might help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Specifically, tannin might suppress the creation of a peptide that causes arteries to harden. 

Reference: www.foodandwinepairing.org    

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