Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Food + Wine = Perfect The 2nd day of wine training, 3 of 3

This is the third and final entry of a 3-part post on my second day of wine training. This day we touched on three rather basic, but immensely imperative, ideas in the wine world; the evaluation of wine quality, food and wine matching and the classic white grape. Today I’m going to talk about some food pairing ideas.

Matching the weight of the wine to the food is probably the core of doing food and wine pairing properly. You have such a sliding scale with intensity, flavors and other properties but as long as the weight of the wine on the whole scale is factored in you should do just fine.

Light wine for light food like champagne and smoked fish.
Full body wine for rich heavy food like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz with red meat and gravy

Just a word of warning, the sides with what the wine is paired with should be taken into consideration as well, as things like gravies and cream sauces can change the dynamic of the meal.

Now, on to the big flavors in food and wine

Acidic food requires rich acidic wines, or else the wine can seem flabby. Watch out for lemon, lime and vinegar flavors in food, as they are hard to top, but not impossible. Italian reds can pair well with tomatoes dishes due to their high acid levels, where the acid from the tomato and the acid from the wine complement each other. It’s always good to pair oily foods with high acid wines, a great example of this is sauvignon blanc and calamari

Spicy foods pair well with wines that are chilled and that are intensely aromatic, a touch sweet or very fruity. Hot spices reduce sweetness in a wine. Chilling can take the initial bite out of a spicy dish, and the slightly sweet or fruity follow through will take the lingering sting out as well. Riesling, sauvignon blanc, gew├╝rztraminer all go well with spicy food but be warned high tannic reds can make spicy dishes even spicier. I would never recommend big full reds with Mexican food.

Sweet foods should be paired with sweeter wines because it will make the food taste drier. It can also pair well with savory foods, where reds would be too tart in structure.

Salty Foods pair well with light body, crisp white wines. Some good traditional matches are olives with sherry, oyster with muscatel, and shellfish with Chablis. Sweet wines have the ability to balance off overly salty foods
When tannins clash with salty food the outcome is typically very bitter

With tannins and food the big thing to remember is that proteins softens tannins, and tannins in a wine help it stand up to a richer meat. Just be careful that you don’t pair a tannic wine with oily fish, as it has a tendency you give and unpleasant metallic flavor.

Basic pairing notes
·         Match weight
·         Complement flavours
·         Contrast intensity and texture
·         Sweetness, the wine should always be sweeter then the dish

How is it prepared guide
Cold food = cold wine
Steamed/poached/boil = light wine
Oil fried = high acid, light wine
BBQ, grilled, roasted = fuller body, oaked
Braised, stewed = big body

Stronger seasoning = fuller wine

This about sums up how I think people should go about pairing wines with meals. I think it’s a rather complicated process when you break down each individual item but if you look at the meal as a whole, and the entire dining experience and use your best judgement, you shouldn’t go wrong. And if you’re out for a meal at a restaurant ask your server or the sommelier, it’s what they are paid to know, do and help you with. And if you having some dinner with friends and/or family and you get that perfect match between meal and drink its fantastic but in the end it’s not really about what you’re eating and drinking now is it? It’s about the people and the experience so go with what feels right. 


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