How to Match Food and Wine
Posted on April 01 2015
Pairing wines and food together is one of life’s great pleasures…and skills.
A great match will enhance both the wine and food – with the whole surpassing the sum of the parts. There isn’t always just one answer to matching a wine with a dish, but know the basic rules and the world is your oyster – or should that be seafood salad or moules marinières?!
The principal aim is to try to get a balance that neither the food nor the wine overpowers the other.
The main elements of food and wine matching to consider are:
- Flavour Intensity: Match full flavours together, like Sauvignon Blanc and asparagus, mild flavours like Muscadet and oysters. Flavour intensity, although similar to weight, is not the same thing, which brings us onto….
- Weight: Match the actual robustness of the food with the weight of the wine. A rich casserole with a juicy red wine or an elegant unoaked white with delicate, soft sushi.
- Saltiness: Salty foods are enhanced and balanced by a hint of sweetness; the same thing can be achieved with wine. Whilst salt clashes with tannin (it makes tannin seem bitter), it works miracles with acidity. Whites are a more obvious choice but some reds can work too.
- Sweetness: The wine should always be sweeter than the food. Sweetness in wine also acts as a foil to rich foods. Sweet foods make dry wines seem over-acidic and tart. Sweetness also balances salt so remember you can serve things like white Port as an apéritif, depending on the nibbles you choose.
- Acidity: High acid wines complement fatty foods in the same way that lemon cuts through the greasiness of smoked salmon. Food and wine can both have acidity. Think about where the wine originates, not just the character of the grape – cool climate wines will have more acidity than those from hot climates.
- Tannin: The more textured the food is -whether chewy or fatty – the more tannin you need in the wine. Wine tannins are attracted to fatty protein, they attach themselves to the protein molecules and strip them from your mouth, leaving it feeling refreshed and cleansed and ready for the next mouthful.
- Don’t know where to start with a match? Head to the roots of the dish or wine……The flavours of foods and wines that have grown up together over the centuries—Tuscan recipes and Tuscan wines, for instance—are almost always a natural fit.
- Some foods just don’t go with wine very well: Where there are high levels of umami, acid or heat sometimes it’s very difficult to get a good match. Well known tricky ingredients include artichokes, capers, tomatoes, horseradish, olives, yoghurt and truffle. But don’t fight it – there is always beer, cider or a cocktail that might be a good option!
Here are some examples we’ve tried recently to show these rules in action, alongside some suggestions from our range!
Champagne is perfect with anything salty.
Try our Gallimard NV with cheese straws, moreish pre-dinner!
Sauvignon Blanc goes with tart dressings and sauces.
Grilled asparagus spears dipped in lemon vinaigrette with Seresin Sauvignon Blanc is delicious.
Seafood needs “coastal” wines like Albariño or Muscadet.
The “Hare and Tortoise” from Galicia is our number one choice with fruits de mer.
Choose Chardonnay for fatty fish or poultry in a rich sauce.
Classic Cannonball Chardonnay from Sonoma with grilled salmon or chicken fricassee. White Burgundy also always an option…oak is necessary though!
Off-Dry Riesling pairs with sweet & spicy dishes.
We think Schloss Vollrads is perfect with Thai fishcakes, tofu pad thai and chicken in pandan leaves.
Moscato d’Asti loves fruit desserts.
Fruit filled crêpes or apple tart with our Moscato d’Asti is superb.
Pair a dry rosé with rich, cheesy dishes.
Gruyère soufflé and Whispering Angel….seconds please!
Pinot Noir is great for dishes with earthy flavours.
Old World wines and Old World dishes are intrinsically good together.
The Reverdito Barolo and a slow-cooked wild boar sausage ragu with polenta is a no-brainer.
Chocolate and Port work together with the sweetness.
Lamb and Tempranillo go hand-in-hand.
Chargrilled red meat like steak needs wine with “oomph”.
We’ll be running a food and wine matching sessions in all the shops in April and May. Watch out for more details. Drop by to find your perfect match!