There have been volumes written about the “correct” way to pair wine with food. Red wine with red meat, “lighter” wines with” lighter” food etc. Many times the advice given is contradictory. Sometimes complicated charts and graphs are presented as a guide. All this well-meaning advice has only resulted in confusion and apprehension when it comes time to choose a wine for the meal, or to choose a meal for the wine.
My approach to this subject is simple. 1. Balance the four basic flavors found in food (sweet, sour/acid, salt and bitter). 2. Choose your favorite well- balanced wine. 3. Gather friends or family together and enjoy.
Balance is the key word when it comes to successful matches. If the food or the wine lean too heavily toward one flavor or another, the results are often disappointing. Neither the food nor the wine will live up to their potential. Good food will not make a bad wine taste any better, and vice versa.
Understanding how the basic flavors in food react with wine, and how to adjust them, is the key to arriving at the perfect pairing for you. I say for you, because wine and food pairing is totally subjective.
In general, avoid very spicy or sweet foods with dry (opposite of sweet) wines.
Sweet flavors in food make wine appear less fruity, more acidic, and tannic or astringent. Balance overly sweet foods with the addition of an acid such as lime juice, lemon juice or reduced dry wine.
Sour/Acid and Salt flavors in food make wine appear fruitier, less bitter and less tannic. Balance overly acidic foods with the addition of sugar, honey or fruit juice.
Bitter flavors in food make wine appear more bitter and astringent. Balance bitter flavors with the addition of salt.
The most important factor in coming up with the “perfect” pairing is to relax and not be stressed about it. Well-prepared and seasoned food will always “work” with carefully made, well-balanced, wine.
I look forward to hearing your comments on this subject.