Wine and Food Pairings For Dummies: 5 Rules You Need To Know
Have a panic attack each time you are tasked with making wine and food pairings? Sure it can seem like a daunting task considering there are entire books dedicated to the topic, but it really doesn’t have to be. Here, our top five tips to keep in mind when you are pairing wine and food along with a quick cheat sheet.
1. Trust Your Taste Above All Else. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should always drink and eat what you like, so throw out everything you’ve been told about wine and food pairings. When in doubt, just pick your favorite wine. That way, even if the pairing isn’t perfect, you will still enjoy what you’re drinking.
2. It’s All About Balance. Wine and food should be partners, both helping each other, and neither should overwhelm the other. One of the most critical things to consider is balance. Rich foods need a rich wine, while light foods need a delicate wine When you are trying to determine the weight of your food you want to assess its fat. For instance a blue cheese salad, despite the fact that it is a salad, will seem like a heavy dish. When assessing your wine take clues from its color, grape variety, and color. Wines that are less alcoholic tend to be lighter bodied, for instance.
3. Pair Wine With the Most Prominent Feature Of A Dish. The most prominent feature of a dish, usually the sauce and the not the main ingredient, is critical in determining the best wine to pair said dish with. Baked salmon with a cream sauce for instance will work with a different wine than a salmon with a light dill sauce.
4. Structure and Texture Matter. You can have an impact on the way that your food tastes by what wine you pair it with. Serve high acid wines with high acid foods. For instance, Sauvignon Blanc works well with a salad with a vinaigrette. Don’t pair tannic wines with fatty fishes. A bold Cabernet Sauvignon probably won’t work that well with salmon or other fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Pair tannic wines with salty, fatty, protein-rich foods. Salty foods go well with high acid wines. A Beaujolais goes well with cured meats, and Pinot Grigio pairs well with soy sauce. Serve off-dry or sweet wines with slightly sweet or sweet foods. The wine should always be as sweet or sweeter than what is on your plate.
5. Look For Flavor Links. The flavor profile of wine often reminds us of specific foods. You can create a good match by echoing the ingredients in your food with you wine. Smell chocolate in your Syrah, for instance? Then pair it with your chocolate ganache dessert.
Wine and Food Pairing Cheat Sheet:
Champagne: Pair champagne with anything salty. Because most dry sparkling wines are a touch on the sweet side they pair particularly well with salty foods.
Sauvignon Blanc: Opt for Sauvignon Blanc when pairing a dish with a tart dressing or sauce.
Pinot Grigio: This wine pairs well with light fish dishes.
Chardonnay: Go for the Chard when pairing wine with fatty fish or fish in a rich sauce.
Off-Dry Riesling: Pairs well with sweet and spicy dishes. Riesling is a great dish to balance out spicy Asian and Indian dishes.
Moscato d’Asti: This sweet sparkling wine goes great with a fruity dessert.
Rosé Champagne: Looking for a great crowd pleaser that works with pretty much anything? This is it.
Dry Rosé: For rich, cheesy dishes, dry rosé is a great choice.
Pinot Noir: Think earthy flavors when trying to pair your Pinot Noir, and ingredients like mushrooms and truffles.
Malbec: This bold wine goes great with sweet-spicy barbecue sauces.
Zinfandel: Zinfandels are rustic and rich and go great with pâtés, mousses, and terrines.
Cabernet Sauvignon: You can’t go wrong with Cabernet Sauvignon and a juicy red meat.
Syrah: Syrah goes well with highly spiced dishes.