Pairing wine with food can be a match made in heaven - the perfect bite to go with a great sip of wine is a culinary experience that is hard to top. Sometimes, it feels like a certain wine was made for a particular dish.
While food and wine pairings are a great way to spend an evening, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to pairing wine with food and create the perfect pair for you.
Here are some tips to ensure you have the ideal food and wine pairing experience.
Match like flavors
When deciding on the right food match for your selected wines, try to pair like flavors together. This helps you to emphasize the taste of both your wine and your dish without muting any of the key flavors of each. For example, if you are drinking a Pinot Noir that has more citrus flavors, choose a dish that has acidity to it. Foods with lemon, fresh herbs, or seafood dishes are a great match in this instance.
Doing so will allow you to fully appreciate the flavor of your wine and your meal without mixing anything that simply doesn't go well when paired. A wine and a dish may be great on their own, but not necessarily mixed together - pairing by like flavors will solve this potential problem.
Pair intense with intense, and mild with mild
Partnering an intense wine with an intense dish is a guaranteed way to create a bold tasting experience. Alternatively, mild wine with a mild dish allows the consumer to truly appreciate the flavors of both without risk of one overpowering the other. Pairing an intense wine with a mild dish, or vice versa, often leaves the consumer tasting only the strong element of the meal.
Understanding the balance of your food and wine is a great way to make informed pairings. Here, you will be able to fully taste the individual aspects of your dish without having to worry if they are unable to taste one or the other due to a particularly bold option.
Pair based off most dominant flavors
There are common wine pairings that just make sense, and are often the default when it comes to wine pairings. But just because a dish has red meat in it does not necessarily mean you should opt for a Cabernet Sauvignon. Though these types of wines are widely known as the best choice for a red meat pairing, it is good practice to consider the most dominant flavors of your dish to inform your wine pairing choice.
In a dish with many components, try to identify which flavors come to the forefront after consuming. If something is particularly acidic, for example, try to pair based on the acidity of the dish rather than the individual ingredients. Narrowing down your dish into main flavors will help inform the right wine for the job. Alternatively, if you are looking to try a particular wine that has more of an earthy flavor for example, consider pairing with a dish that has earthy elements: dishes that are heavy with herbs, potatoes, or mushrooms would be ideal for this kind of pairing.
Try to create balance where possible
Think of wine and food pairings like a science - you want to balance different flavors, textures and scents to create the perfect combination. There may often be a fine line between the perfect combination, and a combination that ruins both the wine and the meal.
Pairing a dry wine with something sweet, for example, may create a more bitter taste to both your dish and your wine. This will end up distorting the original tastes of both, making for a taste in your mouth that’s hard to get rid of. Instead, try to pair a sweet dish with a relatively sweet wine: both the wine and dish will compliment the sweetness in each other, while allowing you to appreciate the unique flavors of both.
Experiment with combinations
Though there are many helpful tips and tricks to follow when it comes to wine and food pairing, the fact is, there is never a clear right or wrong answer. If you have a feeling a particular wine may be good with a specific dish, there’s no harm in trying out the pairing. A wine and dish pairing that may not seem to work based off of these tips may end up being the best pairing you ever make!
As you continue to test new combinations, you will get a feel for the kinds of flavors that go best together, and which wines compliment which dishes the best. Continue to stay creative and thoughtful in your pairings, and you will find you become an expert in no time!