Matching food with wine shouldn’t be a daunting task. In fact, follow the four rules below when choosing wine to match with your food and you’re sure to come up with a winner:
Wine compliments the food flavour.
Wine intensity matches food intensity.
Primary food flavour is your guide.
Remove complexity and enjoy the occasion.
Wine compliments the food flavour:
Most food can easily be put into one of the following five categories when it comes to flavours - Acidic, salty, spicy, sweet and fatty.
The easiest way to make sure you select wines that compliment these flavours is to make sure the wine flavour is not significantly weaker or stronger than the food flavour. For example, spicy food is balanced out when we serve it with Riesling, Moscato or Rose. Riesling is most suited to spicy flavours because it is medium to low in alcohol, refreshing and has crisp acidity. Higher alcohol reds and whites negatively increase the heat of a spicy dish, whereas crisp acidity provides an enhancing contrast to the heat of the spice. Fresh lower alcohol wines also lift the flavours in a spicy dish without enhancing the heat.
Wine intensity matches the food intensity:
As a novice this is the easiest rule to follow. Food intensity can be easily broken into three categories - delicate, medium and strong flavour intensity.
Delicate foods are often salads, vegetables and fish with a preparation technique that is also delicate - normally poaching, steaming and serving fresh. Wines that pair well with delicate foods are Pinot Grigio/Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Foods of a stronger flavour profile often have stronger cooking techniques such as roasting, grilling and frying. These foods go well with wines that also have a strong flavour like Cabernet or Chardonnay with good oak profiles.
Primary food flavour is your guide:
Let the primary food flavour be your guide, not the colour of the meat. While on most occasion red wine pairs well with red meat and white wine pairs well with its not the case for all occasions. Let the flavour that stands out the most in the dish be your guide. Are you serving your beef with a creamy lemon sauce or a robust pepper sauce – pair to the sauce, not the meat. But, with that in mind, don’t over-complicate it, be confident and keep it simple. It can be easy to get caught up in all the flavours. Just ask yourself, what is the dominant flavour or food style? What is the wine style that matches this primary flavour? Then trust your judgement because you kept it simple.
Enjoy the occasion:
At the end of the day great food and great wine are being enjoyed because its normally a great occasion. Never lose sight of why you are enjoying the food and the wine - food and wine has always been more enjoyable due to the nature of the occasion. Friends and family have always been a great reason to come together and share each other’s experiences. Food and wine compliment these occasions, but our attitude is the most important ingredient to any successful food, wine, family and friends gathering.