When ordering or preparing food, we want to enjoy it to the fullest and show off our good taste along the way. In order to properly enjoy a meal, you need to focus on every little detail: the taste, the smell, how it’s arranged and decorated, and what it’s paired with. Pretty much everyone knows the old unwritten rule that white wine pairs with fish while red wine pairs with meat, but this is outdated and boring. If you’re interested in learning about pairing food and wine, here’s what you need to know:
Do the “hard” work
If you’re hoping to become an expert on food-wine pairing, you need to know your wines first. Knowing your food is easy – your meals are either going to be light or heavy, and there’s nothing too complex about it. Knowing your wines, on the other hand, takes a bit more hard work, and to do it, you first need to know how they feel and taste. Try different wines and try to learn to differentiate their tastes and notes, at least in the most basic and broadest terms, such as mushroom, flowery or grassy. As a general rule, white wines are more acidic, yet it doesn’t mean that red ones aren’t acidic at all. Knowing the texture of the wine means that you should be able to differentiate between light, oily, and bubbly.
Red vs. white
If you have a dish that’s made of earthy ingredients such as mushrooms and truffles, strong red wines will complement it perfectly. Reach for a bottle of Pinot Noir since it’s a light-bodied wine, but it still offers savory depth. If you’re having something stronger such as a steak or lamb chops, Cabernet, as well as Bordeaux-style blends, will be the best choice. Because these wines contain plenty of tannins, your palate will feel refreshed after every sip. When having light fish such as salmon, sea bass, or some other kind of seafood that comes with a lush sauce, silky white Chardonnays will be an excellent finishing touch.
Champagne for everything
We tend to associate champagne with high-class societies and their sophisticated dinners, but the truth is that champagne is one of the most versatile drinks and pairs well with a surprising number of dishes and tastes. High levels of acidity and low levels of sugar make it perfect for any dish that’s not overly sweet – chips and popcorn included. Because it goes best with food in general, order great champagne for your dinner and don’t wait for a special occasion. Remember that champagne’s acidity can be a bit off-putting when you have it on its own, so always have something to snack on.
Pair delicates and bolds accordingly
While this is one of the most basic of ideas, we would still like to point out the obvious: great dishes deserve great wines, and modest dishes don’t require the most expensive bottle of rarest wine you have. A bottle of pricey and fragrant Merlot will be “wasted” on simple turkey and cheese sandwiches, and it would be a shame not to have a glass of opulent Cabernet Sauvignon with some juicy ribs. Delicate and bold meals need similar wines or you’ll feel like drinking water when sipping red Burgundy while feasting on curry or piquant risotto. Rieslings are the best choice for hot and spicy dishes as their tastes complement each other.
While nobody can deny that white wine goes wonderfully with fish and red with meat, limiting yourself to this “rule” alone will stop you from learning more about food/wine pairing. Experiment with different sorts of wine and dishes, read about different pairings, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake every now and then. This way, you will form your own taste and will be able to offer great wines to your guests over dinner.