Wine pairing is a fascinating art that involves taking a risk with the kind of wines you combine with your food until a perfect match based on personal taste is established. The spectrum is especially broad in terms of wines to pick.
When it comes to food and wine pairings, there are those who carelessly match any dish with any libation and those who painstakingly try to balance the flavors of the food with the perfect wine. No matter where you land on the spectrum, there are some dishes that remain challenging (potluck, anyone?), so having knowledge of ways to properly pair wine with your food can truly intensify the enjoyment of eating. It does not get much better than sea bass with Sauvignon Blanc, duck breast with Burgundy and a juicy steak with a classic Cabernet Sauvignon, so here are some pairing tips that promise to make your next dish sing.
It is no secret that having a perfect pairing of your favorite meal with the best-suited wine choice can take your meal into a whole new dimension. The following are the rules of pairing;
1.Pairing Rule #1
Serve a dry rosé with hors d’oeuvres
Rosé with Creamy Anchoïade
Rosé with Roquefort Gougères
Good rosé combines the fresh acidity and light body of white wines with the fruity character of reds. This makes it the go-to wine when serving a wide range of hors d’oeuvres, from crudités to gougères.
2.Pairing Rule #2
Serve an unbaked white with anything you can squeeze a lemon or lime on
Albariño with Pan-Glazed Salmon with Oyster Sauce and Basil
Sauvignon Blanc with Smoked Sablefish and Potato Salad with Capers and Onions
White wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño and Vermentino (typically made in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels) have a bright, citrusy acidity that acts like a zap of lemon or lime juice to heighten flavors in everything from smoked sablefish to grilled salmon.
3.Pairing Rule #3
Try low-alcohol wines with spicy foods
Riesling with Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Jamaican Curry
Riesling with Shrimp with Green Beans and Toasted Coconut
Alcohol accentuates the oils that make spicy food hot. So when confronted with dishes like a fiery curried chicken or Thai stir-fry, look for wines that are low in alcohol, such as off-dry German Rieslings (especially since a touch of sweetness helps counter spiciness, too).
4.Pairing Rule #4
Match rich red meats with tannic reds
Cabernet with Duck Confit with Turnips
Syrah with Sausages with Grapes
Tannins, the astringent compounds in red wines that help give the wine structure, are an ideal complement to luxurious meats—making brawny reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah great matches for braised duck legs or pan-seared sausages.
5.Pairing Rule #5
With lighter meats, pair the wine with the sauce
Portuguese Red with Pork Chops with Shallots
Chardonnay with Chicken Breasts with Leeks and Pine Nuts
Often the chief protein in a dish—chicken or pork, say—is not the primary flavor. Think of pork chops in a delicate white wine sauce versus pork chops in a zesty red wine sauce; in each case, the sauce dictates the pairing choice.
6.Pairing Rule #6
Choose earthy wines with earthy foods
Pinot Noir with Bison Rib Eye Steaks with Roasted Garlic
Nebbiolo with Mushroom-Shallot Ragout
Many great pairing combinations happen when wines and foods echo one another. Earthiness is often found in reds such as Pinot Noir (particularly from Burgundy) and Nebbiolo, making them great partners for equally earthy ingredients, like bison steaks or wild mushrooms.
7.Pairing Rule #7
For desserts, go with a lighter wine
Moscato with Moscato-Roasted Pears and Cider-Poached Apples
Madeira with Dulce de Leche Crispies
When pairing desserts and dessert wines, it is easy to overwhelm the taste buds with sweetness. Instead, choose a wine that is a touch lighter and less sweet than the dessert—for instance, an effervescent Moscato d’Asti with roasted pears.
Wine pairing is an art that has been perfected by some people (read Italians) better than others. However, each region has the process of pairing their wines and food depending on some factors. Luckily, wine pairing is an art that one can learn with help, and we have all the information you need.
Our detailed food and wine matching guide helps you decide which wines to pair with a wide variety of meat, poultry, fish vegetarian dishes as well as desserts and cheese.
The matching of food and wine is a matter of personal taste. There are no hard and fast rules, but just remember it is easiest to think of wine as a sauce and match the strength of flavors and weight of the dish with the wine.
It is important to note that pairing food and wine is dependent on individual taste and perception. The following are some techniques that wine enthusiasts have utilized over the years;
The idea of a regional pairing is pretty fundamental. Imagine Italian wine and Italian food or an Oregon pinot noir with a cow’s-milk cheese from the Willamette Valley. Regional matches are not always the perfect pairing, however they provide a template for us to understand more about what’s going on structurally with wine & food pairings.
2.Acid + Acid
Unlike bitter, acidity can be added together with food and wine and will create the basis of what wine people think about when selecting a wine with dinner. If the wine has less acidity than the food, the wine will taste flat. An easy visualization for acids out-of-balance is a glass of oaked warm climate chardonnay with a vinaigrette salad. When pairing a dish with wine, consider the acid balance between the food and the wine.
3.Sweet + Salty
If you love maple bacon, candied pecans and salted caramels, a wine and food pairing of a sweet wine with a salty food will probably delight you. Pair Riesling with Asian foods such as fried rice or Pad Thai, or try one of my favorite “low calorie” desserts of pretzels and tawny port.
4.Bitter + Bitter = No
Bitter does not go well with more bitter, which is the primary reason why I loathe red wine and chocolate pairings. When we feel fat in the middle of our tongues, it helps to alleviate bitterness.
5.Bitter + Fat
Grab a big thick piece of fatty something-or-other and pair it with a wine with lots of tannin. This is the classic steak with red wine food pairing; however, I think we can do better than that. Take a red wine such as an Italian Sangiovese with lots of cherry flavors and pair the wine with an herbed potato croquette, roasted red tomatoes and rocket (a classic Tuscan Secondi). Suddenly you have a dish that has the tannin balanced with the fat in the croquette and a congruent flavor in the dish and wine (tomato and cherry) that elevate each other. I am already drooling.
6.Acid + Fat
Nothing like a glass of champagne to cut the fat. A high acid drink will add a range of interesting flavors to a lipid heavy dish. This is why white wine butter sauce is popular (you can watch a video of How to Make Buerre Blanc if you would like) the white wine in the butter sauce livens up the whole dish. So when you are in a situation where there is something fatty like cheesecake, get a glass of something bubbly and zippy.
7.Alcohol + Fat
The alcohol category is a bit of a strange one. The alcohol taste actually comes across as acidity so a lot of the same ideologies of the Acid + Fat category pass over into Alcohol + Fat. The primary difference is that a high alcohol drink should not be used as a palate-cleanser because that will mess you up. Instead, look at an alcohol + fat category as a way to mitigate high-speed food consumption. A glass of 17% ABV zinfandel will greatly slow down the rate at which you consume your pepper steak. I use the alcohol + fat category often for dessert pairing, but I’d like to see it more in dining as we learn to eat slower and enjoy longer.
Ancient tribes believed in the fact that nothing is truly poisonous but the excess of even something good can be poisonous. Natural and unprocessed food is good enough to ensure our good health and wellbeing.
You should eat natural, unprocessed foods that humans are genetically adapted to eating. Research shows that such foods are great for health. For healthy people who exercise and do not need to lose weight, there is absolutely no proven reason to avoid tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, or healthier non-gluten grains like oats and rice.
It is important to note that eating healthy does not only work with an individual who wants to lose weight; it can work with people who just want to live a healthy lifestyle. The following are some pointers that all healthy lifestyle enthusiasts should consider;
1.Eat In Moderation
For many of us, moderation also means eating less than we do now. But it does not mean eliminating the foods you love. Eating bacon for breakfast once a week, for example, could be considered moderation if you follow it with a healthy lunch and dinner—but not if you follow it with a box of donuts and a sausage pizza. If you eat 100 calories of chocolate one afternoon, balance it out by deducting 100 calories from your evening meal. If you are still hungry, fill up with extra vegetables.
Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. Start by reducing portion sizes of unhealthy foods and not eating them as often. As you reduce your intake of unhealthy foods, you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.
Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and do not order supersized anything. At home, visual cues can help with portion sizes–you are serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb. If you do not feel satisfied at the end of a meal, add more leafy green vegetables or round off the meal with fruit.
Take your time. Stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
Eat with others whenever possible. As well as the emotional benefits, this allows you to model healthy eating habits for your kids. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.
Aside from portion size, perhaps the single biggest problem with the modern Western diet is the amount of added sugar in our food. As well as creating weight problems, too much sugar causes energy spikes and has been linked to diabetes, depression, and even an increase in suicidal behaviors in young people. Reducing the amount of candy and desserts you eat is only part of the solution as sugar is also hidden in foods such as bread, cereals, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, low-fat meals, fast food, and ketchup. Your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food so all this added sugar just means a lot of empty calories.
Tips for cutting down on sugar</li>
Slowly reduce the sugar in your diet a little at a time to give your taste buds time to adjust and wean yourself off the craving.
Avoid sugary drinks. Try drinking sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice instead.
Do not replace saturated fat with sugar. Many of us make the mistake of replacing healthy sources of saturated fat, such as whole milk dairy, with refined carbs or sugary foods, thinking we are making a healthier choice. Low fat does not necessarily mean healthy, especially when the fat has been replaced by added sugar to make up for loss of taste.
Avoid processed or packaged foods like canned soups, frozen dinners, or low-fat meals that often contain hidden sugar that quickly surpasses the recommended limit.
Be careful when eating out. Most gravy, dressings and sauces are also packed with salt and sugar, so ask for it to be served on the side.
Eat healthier snacks. Cut down on sweet snacks such as candy, chocolate, and cakes. Instead, eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Focus on eating the recommended daily minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables and it will naturally fill you up and help you cut back on unhealthy foods. A serving is half a cup of raw fruit or veg or a small apple or banana, for example. Most of us need to double the amount we currently eat.
Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day as deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Add berries to breakfast cereals, eat fruit for dessert, and snack on vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, or cherry tomatoes instead of processed snack foods.
Greens. Branch out beyond lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Sweet vegetables. Naturally, sweet vegetables—such as corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash—add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for added sugars.
Fruit. Fruit is a tasty, satisfying way to fill up on fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries are cancer fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C, and so on.
4.Bulk up on fiber
Eating foods high in dietary fiber can help you stay regular, lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and help you lose weight. Depending on your age and gender, nutrition experts recommend you eat at least 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day for optimal health. Many of us are not eating half that amount.
In general, the more natural and unprocessed the food, the higher it is in fiber.
Good sources of fiber include whole grains, wheat cereals, barley, oatmeal, beans, and nuts, vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes, and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, and pears.
There is no fiber in meat, dairy, or sugar. Refined or “white” foods, such as white bread, white rice, and pastries, have had all or most of their fiber removed.
An easy way to add more fiber to your diet is to start your day with a whole grain cereal or add unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.
Choose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources, especially whole grains, for long-lasting energy. Whole grains are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.
Healthy carbs (or good carbs) include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
Unhealthy carbs (or bad carbs) are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. They digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.
Tips for eating more healthy carbs
Include a variety of whole grains in your healthy diet, including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley.
Make sure you are really getting whole grains. Check for the Whole Grain Stamps that distinguish between partial whole grain and 100% whole grain.
Try mixing grains as a first step to switching to whole grains. If whole grains like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta do not sound good at first, start by mixing what you normally use with the whole grains. You can gradually increase the whole grain to 100%.