It’s important to pair the right type of wine to the kind of food you serve because this creates a balance not only to the taste but it also balances the components of a dish and the wine’s characteristics. It sounds complex but it’s pretty easy to do once you understand the concept.
The trick is to create a balance by contrasting tastes and flavors. Your goal is to amplify the shared flavor compounds of the wine and the food.
Here are the steps to a perfect wine and food pairing.
1. The Basics
The most important thing to remember is that the wine should always be more acidic than the food. It should also be sweeter and have the same flavor intensity as the dish you are serving.
Red wines are best paired with boldly flavored meats like red meats. So, if you’re having steak, it’s best to go with red wine. Red wines that have more bitter tastes should go with a little bit of fat like fried pork belly.
White wines are best paired with light intensity meats like fish and poultry. Having salmon or broiled chicken? Slightly chilled white wine is the best pairing.
If you’re serving meat with sauce or gravy, it’s more important to match the wine with the flavor of the sauce than with the meat itself.
2. Basic Tastes
Foods today have many flavors. There are your basic sweet and sour, and the more extreme tastes like spicy and electric. There are only 6 tastes that you need to focus on when it comes to wine and food pairings. That’s salty, acidic, sweet, bitter, fatty, and spicy or piquant. You need to consider to pair not only the main dish and the wine but the other foods that will be on the menu.
If the main flavor is bitter, balance it with more acid and less sweet flavors. If the main food has a more acid flavor, balance it with sweeter and less bitter flavors. For foods that are sweet, balance it with more acid and less bitter flavors.
Knowing those food pairings, you can now separate wines into 3 basic categories. Red wines have more bitterness while white, rose, and sparkling wines are more acidic. Sweet wines obviously have a sweeter taste. You can use those basic tastes as a guide to your wine and food pairings.
3. Complementary Pairing
The more complicated thing is pairing the stronger tastes. Macaroni is a bit fattier so a white wine that has high acidity will better complement it. Your classic mac and cheese with a creamy sauce are best paired with white wines like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. That’s what you call a complementary pairing.
Chardonnays are silky wines and they are great for fatty foods or fish with rice. It also goes with seafood in a lush sauce.
Champagnes are perfect for salty foods. Champagnes and Spanish cava are dry sparkling wines that have a bit of sweetness so it’s refreshing to have them with anything salty.
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