If you’re not a self-proclaimed foodie or a wine expert, wines can be quite intimidating. There are hundreds of famous wine regions, hundreds of vine varieties and thousands of cellars. However, just because wine can sometimes be scary, it doesn’t mean you can give up on understanding the basics of pairing your wine with your food. While the process can be made very complicated, it can also be simplified like in the following text.
Evaluate your wine
Everything starts with the style of your wine. When we talk about wine style, we refer to elements that create a recognizable feel in the mouth—acidity, viscosity, alcohol levels, tannins, intensity and flavor type. Identifying your wine style will allow you to find a common tongue with your wine retailer or sommelier, so you pick out the perfect wine for you.
Try to achieve balance
In order to achieve balance, you need to consider the richness or the weight of both your wine and your food. Your wine and your food shouldn’t compete, but be equal partners. This is not an exact science, and instinct plays a huge role in estimating the weight of these two elements, however, there are some guidelines that can help. For instance, bold Cabernet Sauvignon fits well with Australian grilled lamb because they are both hearty. On the other hand, a light Soave will not overwhelm subtly-flavored fish because they are equally delicate. Today, it’s really easy to find wine that will fit your meal. You can even buy wine online in Australia and have it delivered to your doorstep right before your big dinner. This way, you can plan your menu in advance and always have a perfect pairing.
Identify the most prominent element of the meal
Most people think that the only way to create a good pairing is to pair the wine with meat or fish. However, it’s important to identify the most dominant part of the dish (oftentimes that’s the sauces, seasoning or cooking style). If you’re having chicken marsala with a rich and creamy wine and mushroom sauce, you need to pair it with a supple red. On the other hand, if you have chicken poached in light lemon sauce, opt for a fresh white.
Pair acidic meals with an acidic wine
Meals like baked goat cheese that are rich in acidic content require an acidic wine that will be able to compete with the taste (think something like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc). Vice versa is also relevant.
Spices can be tricky to work with
Pairing wine with Chinese or Indian food can be a challenge because of the strong spices that can destroy the wine flavors. According to some experts, off-dry Riesling is the only thing that tastes good with something as spicy as a curry. On the other hand, Germanic wines can match the intensity of Chinese food very well.
Drink and eat what you like
While there are some general tips, the best thing you can do is pop a wine that you really like than to choose something you’re not a huge fan of and hope the food will improve its taste. Similarly, if you hate a certain dish, there’s no wine in this world that will make it taste better for you. By choose something you like, even if you mess up the paring, you’ll still enjoy your dinner. The worst thing that can happen is that you might need to cleanse your palate with water between your bite of food and drink of wine.
All in all, there are no disasters in pairing wine and food. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve your chances of creating a great pair next time. If you’re feeling adventurous, try some more unconventional pairings and see what you like—that’s the most exciting part of food and wine pairing art!