Pairing Food and Wine 101

Part of the Pairing Food & Wine For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Although personal preference is an overriding factor when it comes to enjoying food and wine together, most people can agree on the outcome, positive or negative, of a few basic taste interactions. The following points lay out some of these basic ground rules for happy food and wine relations, which work toward highlighting the positive sides of either the food or wine, or both, and downplaying the negative aspects. Follow these suggestions and you’ll be a little closer to food and wine harmony.

  • Match weight with weight. Serve dry, light-bodied, low alcohol wines with light dishes (raw/fresh, crunchy, low fat, and high acid). Serve full-bodied, ripe, high alcohol, creamy-textured wines with heavy foods (including foods that contain a lot of dairy or animal fat, protein, rich sauces, and so on).

  • Serve high acid wines with high acid foods. For example, serve a dry Riesling, tart Sauvignon Blanc, or zesty Sangiovese with salads dressed with vinaigrette, goat’s cheese, tomato-based dishes, and such.

  • Avoid tannic wines with fatty/oily fish. For example, avoid a big, chewy Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec with mackerel, black cod, salmon, or any other fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Soften tannic wines with salty, fatty, protein-rich foods. Tannic wines are astringent and mouth-puckering, so a protein-rich food, such as well marbled beef properly seasoned with salt softens the astringency sensation.

  • Serve salty foods with high acid wines. For example, serve Gamay (such as Beaujolais) or Barbera from Northern Italy with cured meats, or Italian Pinot Grigio with anything containing soy sauce.

  • Serve off-dry or sweet wines with slightly sweet or sweet foods. Remember: The wine should always be as sweet or sweeter than what’s on the plate.

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Pairing Food & Wine For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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