Food and wine pairings can enhance both experiences. Although this decision should ultimately come down to personal taste, understanding a few general principles will enable you to provide advice with confidence.
This article will highlight some of the more commonly found wine and food pairings to shed light on what makes them successful and to provide guidance for anyone new to pairing wines and foods together.
Wine’s spicy qualities often dominate when considering how it would pair with spicy food, from those which are very peppery to subtler aromas such as cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg. Spiciness levels in wines may also depend on how grapes are harvested, handled during fermentation and aging processes.
Wines that pair best with spicy foods tend to be lighter, aromatic white wines. If your dish contains strong chilli heat, bubbly wines like champagne or Prosecco can provide additional relief by soothing some of your mouth’s capsaicin pain receptors.
White wines with fruity, floral, and stone fruit notes are great accompaniments for dishes with less heat. Their delicate layers of aromas will complement the complexity and intensity of spiced dishes; for instance a Pinot Gris or Grigio featuring pear, honey and white floral aromas would go perfectly with Chinese five spice dishes, while plummy-berry Pinot Noir with oaky notes or clove notes works beautifully when pairing Indian cuisine that contains coriander, cardamom or other spices.
For a meatier spice experience, a full bodied red with bold flavors such as Syrah or Shiraz works wonderfully. Their spicy notes go perfectly with spicy foods like barbecued meats as well as other aromatic herbs and spices.
Saltiness complements well with both sweet and savory wines, while spicy foods tend to increase bitterness, acidity and reduce sweetness and fruitiness in wine – an unpleasant pairing experience for most! For best results, pair spicy foods with wines which have sweeter qualities than their food pairing.
When pairing spicy wines, the key to successful pairing is striking a balance between intensity by weight and contrasting flavors. Light on ingredients but heavily spiced dishes often leave few elements for wine pairing; therefore, most successful matches for these spicy foods tend to come from pairings that incorporate more complex spices or seasonings.
Roast pork loin seasoned with rosemary and garlic pairs beautifully with fruity Pinot Noir or full-bodied Merlot wines, while light smoky dishes such as grilled chicken breast or teriyaki bowl can pair nicely with medium-bodied Pinot Noirs, Zinfandels or Grenache wines.
Sweet wines make an excellent companion for spicy foods, providing a natural buffer between bitter flavors in food and acidity in wine. A wine’s degree of sweetness is determined by how much of its original sugar has yet been converted to alcohol (also referred to as residual sugar). Semi-sweet or off-dry wines make ideal partners when serving sweet and spicy treats such as honey-glazed ham or chicken dishes.
When it comes to pairing food and wine, most savory items pair nicely. A creamy chicken breast pair perfectly with an oaky Chardonnay while smoky barbeque dishes pair better when served alongside wines that feature similar smoky characteristics, like California Zinfandel or Petite Sirah wines.
Sweet wines pair beautifully with both sweet and salty foods, offering both sweetness and acidity to balance out their respective dishes. I always find myself sipping a glass of such wines during playing online slot games on platforms mentioned on Yoakim Bridge!
Discovering which sweet wines you prefer is best accomplished through experimentation with various styles. Many wines are produced in this vein, from Moscato d’Asti and White Zinfandel through Icewine and Sauternes. All these wines should be easily found at any grocery store and you can pair them with different desserts; light stone fruits like peaches and apricots pair perfectly with white sweet wines while dark fruits such as plums and berries pair better with red sweet wines.
When pairing desserts with wine, generally speaking it is wise to avoid pairing intense wines like Banyuls or Tokaji which could potentially overpower them both. Instead, Riesling or Gewurztraminer could provide an ideal balance.
Experienced tastebuds may appreciate experimenting with pairing salty and sweet treats like chocolate-covered pretzels and maple-glazed bacon with sweet wines such as Vouvray moelleux, Alsace SGN, Sauternes or Trockenbeerenauslese wines to elevate their delicious flavor profile even further.
One quick way to pair food and wine together quickly is to take a bite of food and sip some wine simultaneously to determine whether their flavors go together or clash. This method provides an effective and straightforward test that gives an understanding of which combinations work well and which don’t.
Acidity is an integral element in wine that provides that distinct tart flavor that many of us enjoy, as well as contributing to its balance and freshness. Acidity also plays a key role when pairing wine with food because it helps accentuate and balance different flavor elements found within meals.
Acidic wines make an excellent pairing with salad, as their acid will cut through oil or creamy dressing and bring out its crispiness. Acidic wines also work great with cheese as their acid helps break down its fat. However, acidic wines should not be combined with rich or fatty dishes because the acid will only intensify their heavy nature while drowning out their delicate flavours.
Tartaric acid is one of the more prevalent acids found in wine, often contributing to its pH, aroma, and taste. Tartaric acid gives wine its sharp, tangy acidity; this can vary depending on soil content, climate conditions and grape variety, with white wines often showing more signs than light-bodied red wines when it comes to tartaric acid presence.
As a general guideline, always look to pair wines with similar acidity levels as the food being served. A wine with more acidity will pair nicely with food also high in acidity; vice versa. Bitter foods and wines that have high levels of bitterness should not be combined; instead consider matching wines using the six basic flavours: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and fatty as a guide for matching wine and food together.
Finding a satisfying wine-and-food pairing can be tricky, but following a few general guidelines will help improve your pairings. No need to become an expert at pairing wines and meals together but for those who enjoy doing it can make meals more enjoyable and satisfying.
Complex wines and foods have their place, but to achieve pairing success you need to understand how these pairings work. Also important when matching food is understanding which characteristics of a wine are important when matching, such as its acidity or sweetness or tannins and body.
Complementary pairings tend to work best, as wine and food must complement one another without clashing or distorting each other – for instance, rich cheese needs an acidity-laden wine; runny eggs require acidic vino. Thus, pairing classic combinations like brie with full-bodied white wines works so effectively.
Try matching the primary character of a dish to that of its wine, which often can be determined by sauces, seasonings or cooking methods rather than main ingredients themselves. For instance, rich mushroom flavors in chicken Marsala lean toward robust red wines while the simple citrus notes found in chicken breast poached in lemon sauce make for an excellent pairing with white wines.
Tagines feature bold spices and meat flavors, making it the ideal complement to bold red wines, while delicate fish or vegetable dishes such as artichokes (which contain chemicals known as cynarin that make wine taste metallic) should be served alongside lighter-bodied whites.