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Pairing wine with food might seem like a daunting task, but there are a few tips to keep in mind that will take your meal to the next level. At its most basic level, wine pairing involves understanding the varying degrees of acidity, tannins, sweetness, and body of each varietal. From there, you can determine which foods will complement these characteristics.
Let’s take a look at a few simple tips for pairing wine with meals.
Red varietals are often paired with meat-based dishes. The tannins found in the wine, which are compounds derived from the grape skins that add astringency and bitterness, complement grilled and smoked meats very well. However, there are varying levels of “heaviness” that red wines can have. This affects how well it will pair with certain meats.
Similarly, the mouthfeel, or richness, of the wine can either complement or beneficially contrast with your food pairing, depending on what it is. For example, a lighter-bodied Pinot Noir that has been aged - which will be smoother - will pair excellently with charcuterie. If you were to pair an extremely heavy wine with charcuterie, it would overwhelm the subtler flavors that might arise from the spices and cures used on the meat. Rather, medium- to heavy-bodied red wines, like Malbec, are best paired with a rich and hearty braised stew or a grilled steak.
White wines have a range of profiles that go well with a variety of foods. While the most common pairing is with fish, there are a few other ideas that work just as well. For spicier dishes, you should avoid tannic wines, as they will “combine” with the bitterness and heat of the food. Instead, opt for a slightly sweet varietal, such as a Riesling, which will complement the flavors better.
Some white wines are aged in oak barrels, which can add a warm, toasted finish. These wines, like an oaked Chardonnay, are great for lighter and leaner grilled entrees and hard cheeses. Unoaked whites, which are typically aged in stainless steel containers, are refreshing and crisp. These are ideal for salads and shellfish.
Did you know that dessert wines have pairings as well? A perfectly paired wine and dessert is often an excellent way to finish a meal. The standard rule of thumb is that your beverage should match the sweetness of your food. For example, Port wine is delicious when enjoyed with (or poured over) ice cream and strawberries.
With countless combinations of food and wine to try, navigating the complex waters of pairings may seem difficult. However, by keeping these basic rules in mind, you’re sure to have a delicious and enjoyable meal.
The perfect food and wine pairing starts with the right bottle. Cellaraiders has a wide variety of high-end wines that are perfect for enjoying with your meals or adding to your collection. For more information about our offerings, or to place an order, contact us today!