Great wine and food pairings can seem unachievable. There are so many wines in the world that pairing them with food can feel like an impossible task. Well, the process isn’t as complicated as you think, as long as you understand a few basics. Once you know the fundamentals, you’ll be able to match all your favorite dishes with the best wines! Here’s a simple guide on how to do that.
Wine And Food Pairings
The complex art of pairing wine with food can be broken down into two simple concepts.
Understand the Six Basic Flavors
There are six basic flavors across wines and foods. Knowing how these flavors combine with each other can help you select the wines that will perfectly match the foods that you are eating. Your goal is to use the interaction between food and wine to create balance. Here’s a list of the basic flavors you need to pay attention to when pairing food and wine. This list is a different approach to thinking about flavor, and has more to do with the specific character of the foods and wines rather than our actual taste buds:
This flavor occurs in both wines and foods. Acidic wines taste great with fatty foods. It’s also possible not to worry about balance with acid flavors. You can easily pair acidic foods with acidic wines.
Aside from being a nutrient, fat is also one of the six basic flavors. Since fatty foods tend to be heavy, you need a wine that will balance this tendency. Wines that are high in either alcohol or acid tend to balance these foods nicely.
Tannins are compounds that naturally occur in wine and they are responsible for creating a bitter flavor. Some wines have a greater bitter flavor than others, and these wines need to be balanced with sweeter foods. In the reverse, bitter foods pair well with sweet wines.
If you plan to salt your food, do so as sparingly as possible. Salty flavors tend to conflict with the acid content of wine. When eating salty foods, choose wine with a low acid content, such as sweeter wines.
Naturally, sweet wines have low acidity. Pair these wines with anything that doesn’t require high acid. In general, sweet wines, such as dessert wines, go best with sweet foods.
Some wines have a higher alcohol content than others. These wines taste especially good with fatty foods, and they also taste great with dishes that are on the sweeter side.
Memorize a Few Basic Combinations
Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to learn how to put it all together. The best way to do this is to memorize a few classic combinations that work every time! These combinations do follow the guidelines listed above and they are a great place to start. Here’s a list of some popular foods and the wines you can drink with them:
Asian food often contains a variety of heavy flavors, salt, and spices. This means that sweet wines such as Rieslings tend to pair well with most Asian dishes.
Always choose sweet wine, such as Riesling or Moscato, with dessert. If the dessert is made from dark chocolate, you might want to consider a full-bodied red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon to highlight the flavors of the chocolate.
Most fish tastes great with white wine. Shellfish is especially good with Chardonnay. Fatty fishes such as salmon taste great with acidic wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and dry, not sweet, Rieslings.
If the dish is fried or sautéed in a lot of butter or oil, consider serving an acidic wine, such as Chianti and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Italian Chianti is the perfect wine to pair with pasta that has red sauce and it even tastes great with pizza. Both the wine and the red sauce are acidic, which means that they taste great together.
Most meat dishes, particularly steak, taste best with full-bodied, acidic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Meats such as chicken and pork taste great with medium-bodied red wines such as Pinot Noir, which tend to have medium acid and a lighter flavor, as well as rosé or white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
While this guide is by no means complete, it can give you a great head start in understanding what it takes to correctly pair wine with food. At the end of the day, if you think that a particular wine tastes great with something you’re eating, you aren’t wrong! There are no right or wrong answers.
Now that we’ve introduced you to these classic wine and food pairings, let us show you a few of our best wine gift baskets!