Easy Tips for Matching Wine with Food
More From Biltmore 09/30/12
Written By Sharon Fenchak
Don’t fall for the myth that pairing food and wine is hard―or only for candlelight dinners. Whether you are grabbing wine on the weekly grocery run or for a gift or for a special dinner with friends, keep these basics in mind and choosing wine can be quick and easy.
Remember that wine is like art; your favorite is what you enjoy most. Everyone’s opinion is valid. However, there are basic physiological realities―your tastebuds―that are constant when certain styles of wine are paired with certain types of food.
Remember the lessons from elementary school: you have at least four basic tastes in your mouth: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. These basic tastes apply to wines, too.
Sweet food will increase the perception of:
- Astringency, so the wine appears more dry, stronger, and less fruity
Example: Pair Cheesecake with semi-dry, non-complex wine like Riesling -OR- Try pairing Port Wine and Chocolate cake as the wine must be sweeter than the food you are serving.
Salty food increases the fruity, sweet character of wine.
Example: Olives and Sparkling wine; Blue cheese and Cabernet Sauvignon; Parmesan Cheese with Red Zinfandel
Sour food will make the wine appear sweeter and less strong.
Example: Fish with Lemon sauce paired with a non-complex Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
Bitter food increases the bitterness in wine, so best to pair with non-complex wines.
Example: Mixed Green Salad, Nuts, or Grapes, paired with a Riesling or White Zinfandel
Matching Food and Wine
When pairing food and wine, it is important to remember that certain foods complement certain wines. The flavors of the food are amplified when matched with the appropriate wine and vice versa. Keep this in mind when you think you bought “bad” wine; you may just need to find the perfect food to go with it!
For example, if you start out with plain chicken:
- When adding salt to chicken, pair with the dry, yet creamy, Sauvignon Blanc
- When adding cheese to the chicken, pair with the crisp and semi-sweet Riesling
- When adding bacon to the chicken, pair with the soft, velvety Pinot Noir
Select light-bodied wines with lighter food, and fuller bodied wines with heartier dishes.
What is a ‘body’ of wine?
The easiest way to explain this is with a simple milk analogy.
- Wines that are light in body = Skim Milk They are light in color and don’t leave a film on your tongue
- Medium body wine = 2% or Regular Milk It has a heavier texture than a light body and will linger in your mouth
- Full bodied wines = Half & Half or Heavy Cream These wines are heavy, rich and coat your tongue and throat all the way down
Here is a helpful guide that you can print out and take with you anywhere!