When opting to have wine with a meal, many people often just choose the name they recognise and know they enjoy, without considering what food they will be eating with it and how the two flavours will mix. It isn’t a complicated process, pairing food and wine choices, once you know what you are looking for, which is why we have put together our beginner’s guide! If you haven’t already seen part one, in which we looked at how the body of the wine impacts the foods that go well with it, click here. In part two, we start to look at the different flavours of the wine and the food.
Acids in both foods and wines contribute a great deal to the flavours we experience when eating and drinking them. So it makes sense to next consider matching the acids in our wine and food pairings, as if one has a high acid content and other doesn’t, the acid flavours will overpower everything else.
Here’s a couple of examples to give you a feel. You order a salad with a vinaigrette dressing. We all know vinegar is highly acidic, and so only a crisp, high acid white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc will make an even match for its flavour. Having something in a tomato-based sauce? A high acid red will compliment the rich, tangy acidic flavours of the tomato, such as a Sangiovese or Gamay will counter the punch of the tomato.
Not always considered to be as important as the body and acid content of the wine and meal, sugar plays the part of middle man, balancing out any differences between the flavours. If your meal is packed in excess with even just one of the non acidic flavours such as spice, heat, sweetness and salt, then sugar will save the day and prevent your wine’s glory being lost on your taste buds.
Dishes such as chilli, Cajun foods, anything highly seasoned with a hefty mix of spice and heat, will need a wine with a little sugar, such as a Riesling or Gewurztraminer to cut through the mix and be noticed. When eating foods without any of the above non-acidic flavours featured in excess however, wines containing sugar can overpower and clash.
If we bring together what we have learnt over this two part wine and food pairing guide, we should now be able to competently select a sufficiently complimentary wine from the wine list to accompany meals in restaurants, and select the right kind of wines when choosing to accompany home cooked meals. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to match wines, if you start to look more carefully when selecting a wine to go with your usual evening meal, you will start to find that there are flavours and aspects there, in both the wine and the recipe you prepared, that you never really noticed before. Go on, give it a try. What’s for dinner? We have just the wine to go with that….