Entry #1700, October 8, 2012
Most experts say the pairing of food and wine is an inexact science – more art than anything else – and yet there are rules to follow. At its core, pairing food with wine (or food with other types of alcohol, for that matter) is about attaining flavour balance. One should ask whether the food and drink complement one another with similar flavours, or whether the two provide a pleasing contrast.
For a start, it will be useful some basic tips provided by The Oxford Companion to Wine, an authority in this field:
1) Sourness and saltiness in food suppress apparent bitterness in wine; 2) Astringency in wine is suppressed by foods that are acidic, salty or fatty and accentuated by food that is sweet or spicy; 3) Salty foods often make sweet wines taste sweeter; and 4) Bitter foods often make wine seem more bitter.
Pairing your favorite wines and foods
When it comes to finding balance, white wines are better paired with pork meat, such as a roast (something that also calls for fruit supplements such as apples or apricots), or fish. If you’re thinking buying a fresh, fruity white such as Germany’s Riesling, pork roast is the dish to go for. But an aspiring wine taster shouldn’t forget how a grape can also be at the core of different types of wine: in Riesling’s case, you’ll be delighted to find out how easily its semi-sweet and sweet varieties can be paired with your favourite desserts.
On the other hand, as previously mentioned, the opposite theory can also work: different tastes make for a pleasing pairing, such as when the crisp flavours of many white wines are paired with a rich, creamy dish. The contrast in these cases acts as break in between mouthfuls, with the wine cleaning the palate and preparing your taste buds for the most surprising dishes.
Matching regions with traditional foods
Another general rule of thumb that helps take some of the guesswork out of food-wine pairing is to match a wine from a particular region with traditional foods (including cheeses) from that region, as more often than not, the two will have a natural affinity. Take Spain, for instance: the local roasted or grilled meat dishes are a perfect match for dry and tawny wines such as Rioja, a Spanish classic.
Image Wit and Delight
For those thinking of something more rare and unique such as lobster or shellfish instead, Champagne is one of the most universal options. Favoured by most is the Bollinger Champagne, one of the last remaining independent Champagne houses, internationally acclaimed for its sophisticated taste. The dry sweetness of a Champagne like Bollinger goes perfectly with the ‘meaty’ taste of seafood like clams, mussels and lobster.
Generally speaking, there are many foods recommended for popular, more accessible wines. When it comes to lamb, sommelier favourites are Bordeaux, New World Chardonnay, Rioja, and Cru Beaujolais; while for chicken Côtes du Rhône, Trebbiano, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon are all good choices. Finally, what better than a bottle of Chianti Classico to gi with your bolognaise pasta?
For more food and wine ideas on Stagetecture, click here.