Paring wine and food is as easy as it is fun. Start with this simple, but important tip.
Get a wine you love, prepare something you enjoy eating, or pick a favourite restaurant, and most importantly, find a good friend or partner to share the wine, meal and night with.
That is about as good a pairing with food gets!
However, if you want to delve deeper into wine and food pairing, we have the 10 best tips for matching wine with food for you on this page.
Some people make food and wine pairing look like a science project, that doesn’t sound like much fun to most of us!? Wine is fun! So make pairing wine and food fun too. There are a few guidelines that help steer you in the right direction, but, generally speaking, if you like it how it tastes, it a good match.
Sounding like a science project already? I hope not. Just that you want to ensure that you wine is going to give it’s best! After all, when the wine producers have lavished their time and effort to make such good wines, we don’t want to fall at the final hurdle.
So, a little planning is required! Make sure you take your wine from your cupboard, cellar etc and place it in your wine chiller for a while before you plan to enjoy it. With a red wine, you should be fine to put it in the chiller as you start to prepare your meal. If you’re heading to a restaurant, you can check with the wine waiter, make sure they know you would like your red wine just slightly chilled.
If you’re going to be decanting your wine, please don’t forget to do this ahead of time! It’s just too easy to overlook the little things that can make your wine that extra bit special.
Who is the star of the show?
Once the wine selection is out of the way, what is the right wine and food pairing for you? Keep things easy and remember what we said about there being only one star at the table, the wine, or the food. I cannot tell you how many wine dinners I’ve attended where the aromas and flavors of the food completely overwhelmed the wine experience. The natural tendency is to bring your best bottle, or purchase the best wine when you are out for an evening at one of the restaurants. I’m not sure that truly accomplishes your goal because either the food, or the wine is going to earn the spotlight.
The problem with too many wine dinners is that chef’s claim, and truly desire to create menus and perfect wine and food pairings. However, what really happens far too often is, they do not understand there are times when the wine should be the star of the show.
Often, they will prepare overly complicated, rich, spicy or exotic creations that can be stunning works of art. But that detracts from the wine. There is only room for one star at the table. Is it the wine, or the food? You need to decide and allow that to happen.
10 Wine and Food Pairing Tips!
- Pour wines you like with food you like. It’s no good ordering a dish you have only moderate interest in, and pair it with a wine you aren’t so keen on, simply because you’ve heard that it was a perfect wine and food match.
- When in doubt, refer to #1.
- Decide which is the most important part of the experience for the night, the wine, or the food. Serve complicated dishes with simple wines. Open simple wines with complicated food. Both you, the wine and dish will be happier.
- Serve simple dishes with your best wines. Cabernet Sauvignon based blend takes on beautiful aromatics with truffle, tobacco, smoke, earth, cherries and spice. That aromatic display will be lost in an overly complicated menu.
- If you prefer Merlot wines, they pair with the same foods as those from the Medoc. It all goes back to serving what you like.
- Younger wines are more tannic. They are richer in flavor. They can stand up to heavier dishes and more powerful flavors than older wines, which can be stepped on, with more aggressive cooking. This is where lamb, aged beef and stews are really going to shine.
- While red wine with red meats is an easy way to look at things, it’s all about the preparation. Fish with lemon for example might not be my choice for red wine, but use mushrooms, tomato, veal stock or red wine reductions with the fish and you have a perfect wine and food pairing.
- Wine with cheese. Yum yum. Wine with cheese is a perfect combination. For many wines and cheeses, white wine often makes a better pairing, due to its higher levels of acidity found in white wine. But if you prefer red wine, or red wine with cheese like I do, open a red wine and enjoy your cheese. If you’re a fan of sweet, white wine and cheese, you’re in luck, because the high sugar levels pair perfectly with the natural salty flavors of the cheese. Wine and food pairing is all about matching the wines you like with the foods you enjoy. The bottom line to pairing wine with cheese is, eat the cheese you love with the wines you enjoy. That will always create the perfect wine and cheese pairing for you, each and every time.
- Dry, white wine is quite versatile. White Bordeaux, due to its freshness and flavor profile pairs with almost any white food: shell fish, fish of all types, oysters, clams, mussels, sushi, veal, chicken, pork etc. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends are fresh, refreshing and quite citrusy.
- Finally, it’s worth considering texture. Thick foods (stodgy) and rich wines work well together. Delicate foods make a better wine and food pairing with lighter, elegant wines.