Here we’re learning all about the basics of pairing wine with food. So this is my little food pairings guide. Wine and food pairing is a skill that is learned through some trial and error, and there are a few essential tips I have to give you to enable you better to pair your wine with your food on a day-to-day basis.
Pairing Wine With Food
So I think it’s just about a lot of balance and harmony. I think that four main elements go into pairing wine with food. The first thing is texture. So the wine’s texture, whether it’s light-bodied or full body. Think about skim milk versus whole milk and how it feels in your mouth, what that does, how silky it is, or how tannic it is. Is it smooth and soft or a little aggressive and rough and kind of sucks all the moisture out of your mouth? That’s one thing that you need to know about the wine to better pair with the food. I’ll get into specifics later.
The second thing is dryness when you are thinking about pairing wine with food. So dryness is that’s a perception that people get wrong sometimes. They mistake dryness for a tannic wine. When wines are really tannic, they think it’s really dry. But really, dryness is any residual sugar left in the wine after the fermentation is done. Most wines on the planet are going to be totally bone-dry. But within that, even if you have a super dry wine, it can still feel really ripe and fruity on the palate and maybe be misleading. It might feel sweeter than it actually is. Whether or not the wine has some residual sugar like a Riesling or dessert wine Moscato. Even some kind of big New World wines might have a little bit of residual sugar, like a big Cabernet or like a big Chardonnay or something like that. That leads to acidity, which is the opposite of sweetness.
Acidity is our best friend when it comes to pairing wine with food. A wine with good acidity is something that we call a food-friendly wine. Think about when you add a little splash of white wine to your cooking or like some lemon juice to your veggies after you’ve roasted them. That short burst of acidity really brings the whole dish together. And pretend like the wine that you’re drinking is that little splash of lemon juice on your veggies. It’s that perfect kind of acidic accompaniment to your meal. So you want the wine that has a little bit of acidity. And when you’re thinking about pairings, you want to keep in mind how much acidity wine has. How hard it is or how not tart it is.
Now the last thing is some fun. It’s more about the aromatics of wine or the fruit qualities of wine. All these little things are kind of like clues into pairing with certain elements of your food. Some wine might be really floral or might be like fresh-cut grass. The fruit qualities could be like wild strawberries or intense blackberries, or green apples versus a bruised red apple. There are so many different elements to wine that you can pick up one little thing about it and pair it with a specific dish element. Like you’re using a lot of basil or mint or any other kind of fresh herb. You could then find the wine with some of those same aromatic qualities and style of grassy notes and verdant green aspects to the wine.
Some of my favorite kinds of hard-and-fast pairings that I love bubbly wines with crunchy things like chips, popcorn fried chicken. It is amazing with champagne and champagne method wine like Cava or Cremant and even Prosecco. And I also love bubbly wine, champagne with saline flavors, salty things seaside feelings like oysters or sushi.
Rose is one of my favorite wines to pair with food because it goes with everything. It’s so versatile because it’s somewhere between white and red. It’s just refreshing. It’s generally pretty light, and I mean, put it with a hot dog or put it with a lovely salad. Anything goes when you are pairing this wine with food.
Pairing Wine With Food When We Drink Orange Wine
The same goes for orange wine, which is skin-contact white wine. That’s another really versatile wine because it’s bold enough to stand up to the more assertive flavors you have. I even had it with red meat before. But it’s still delicate enough to go with, you know, like tuna. For example, the Riesling is fantastic. It’s super complex—riesling with some residual sugar, a refined herb style like half dry.
Red Meat With Red Wine
How to pairing wine with food when it comes to red meat? The whole rule with white wine with red meat is not working. That is not true at all. It’s just really a case-by-case basis depending on the wine style and how the meat is prepared, and the sauce on top of it. When it comes to meat, though, I mean, for the most part, a big, bold steak is going to be generous with a big, bold red wine. Mainly because tannins and fat are like a match made in heaven, and the fat kind of softens the tannins, and just the tannins latch onto the fat. When that happens, the wine’s fruit kind of shows and peaks through, and everything is just harmonious. On the other hand, it’s lovely; you can have a lighter red wine that goes well with fatty meats because it refreshes the palate and it’s a counterbalance. With many pairings, it’s all about matching flavors and textures. Or it’s about contrasting flavors and textures. And you can have something richer and then have a lighter wine. But those big, bold red wines are great with a big steak or something.
Pairing Wine With Food When We Drink Dessert Wine
And then with dessert wines and chocolate. How to pairing wine with food when it comes to chocolate? Because, for some reason, everybody’s obsessed with pairing wine with chocolate. I think the main thing here is to make sure that your dessert is sweeter than your wine. Your chocolate goes with more dark chocolate. Like 75 or 80 percent chocolate, and if your wine is less sweet than your dessert, the wines are just going to taste super astringent and really tart and aggressive.
Conclusion on Pairing Wine With Food
So that’s about it. Pairing wine with food is a tricky question and definitely a subjective thing. Somebody will come in asking for a pairing for lamb or Indian food, and all of us will have a different idea. And that’s what’s fun about wine. There’s so much out there, and it’s really just about trial and error. So have fun with it. Have fun with food and wine pairing because that’s what it’s there for. And when it comes down to it, even if the pairing doesn’t work, you still have food and wine in front of you. So you can eat it, and you can drink wine. Here you can read more about pairing wine with food.