It’s only Monday and I’m already dreading the rest of my week. While my day wasn’t completely unbearable I know I have a ton of schoolwork to be completed this week and that’s what’s riding on my shoulders.
As soon as I walked in the door I grabbed a bottle of Celebration Spice from Ferrante Winery and poured myself a hefty glass. It was much needed. As I sipped this delicious concoction of grapes and spices my stomach rumbled, reminding me that I didn’t eat a substantial meal yet today.
That’s when it hit me. I’ll write about pairing wine with food.
Red vs. White
I’ve always been told to drink red wines with red meats and white wines with white meats and fish.
For example, drink Merlot with a juicy steak and Chardonnay with chicken or fish.
I haven’t always agreed with this train of thought. What if you don’t like merlot? Or red wines in general? My dad can’t even drink red wines because his stomach gets upset. And the same goes for people that aren’t big white wine fans.
I’ll preface this by saying: DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE AND LIKE WHAT YOU DRINK. There’s no judicial force out there that’s going to issue you a ticket for pairing a white wine with a red meat. The whole point to pairing wine with food is for the flavors to compliment each other.
Heck, for an appetizer a few weeks ago I had a glass of Ice Wine with calamari. That’s just the way I roll. Dessert wine and seafood.
In the Beginning
There’s this clever chart for those of you that don’t even know where to begin pairing wine with food. The chart allows you to pick your food base (beef, chicken, fish, veggies, etc.) and then gives you suggestions for which wines pair nicely with it. It’s all about preference if you ask me. But wine connoisseurs from across the globe would probably disagree.
Chefs and winemakers at Geyser Peak Winery in California say to start with a wine you know you like. Why? According to an article on gourmetsleuth.com, it’s easier to adjust a food recipe to be more compatible with a wine than to start blending your wine.
“Pick a wine you know and love already. This way, you’ll have a sense of its flavors already, which you can use as a starting point to experiment with food pairings. Plus, if the recipe doesn’t work, at the very least you’ll be able to enjoy a nice bottle of wine!”
Preparation is Key
Pay attention to the way you’re meal is prepared. Is it grilled? Braised? Baked? Broiled? What kind of sauce is it in? What
are the dominant flavors?
- Meals high in acid pair nicely with high acid wines.
- Chianti with pasta and marinara.
- Meals with a cream or butter base need a wine that will break through the richness of the sauce.
- Sauvignon Blanc with fettuccini alfredo.
- Big, flavorful meals should be paired with big, flavorful wines.
- Mild meals should be paired with mild wines.
- Spicy cuisine (Asian or Indian) pair well with Riesling.
- If the food is braised in a red wine, like beef bourguignon in a Burgundy wine, then a glass of Burgundy wine pairs nicely.
- Drink the wine the meal is cooked in.
Ray Isle on Food & Wine warns some wines simply don’t mix well with certain foods because of chemical compounds.
“Some foods contain chemical compounds that clash with wine. For instance, artichokes contain the compound cynarin, which tricks people’s taste buds into perceiving flavors that aren’t really present. For most people, cynarin creates sweetness where there isn’t any, meaning that a tart, fresh wine like a Sancerre will taste strangely, unpleasantly sweet.”
In my adventures so far this semester most wineries I’ve visited have recommended a specific wine with a specific meal. I figure the chefs and winemakers probably know best.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with pairing. It only sounds like rocket science. It’s actually an opportunity to let your creative juices flow.