|Wine Tasting and Pairing|
1. Acid & Acid
When preparing an acidic dish, look for an acidic wine. The two will compliment each other without being so overbearing that either the wine or the food will be pushed to the side. The crisp bright notes of a Sauvignon Blanc will bring out the acidity and subtle nuances of an acidic dish. Try putting a white wine with a lemon infused fish dish, or a high acidic, low tannin red for those sharp/tart white meat dishes. Think high acid needs high acid and you’ll do just fine.
2. Fat needs Tannins
What is a tannin you ask yourself? A tannin is an astringent characteristic in wine that gives you that dry, bitter feeling in your throat. Bolder reds will normally have higher tannin structures. To counter and compliment that component in bold reds, you will want to find a nice fatty dish. Maybe a nice Petite Sirah or Cabernet Sauvignon would be a wise choice when eating that fatty piece of Prime Rib.
3. Pair Wine with a Dish’s Dominant Component
Many times, it may not be the correct move to pair that Cabernet with a Filet Mignon because of what else may be on the plate. Is that steak drizzled with a acidic lemon glaze? Or is it being coated in a heavy, red sauce? Look for a wine that compliments the main flavor of the dish, not necessarily the protein or vegetable underneath it.
4. Sugar & Spice Makes Everything Nice
The biggest faux pas I see too many times is when I sit down to a nice spicy meal, be it Mexican, Italian, or Indian and a bottle of Merlot or Syrah is placed on the table to compliment the dish. Alcohol will intensify the heat you and your guests feel in your mouth. A highly acidic, heavy tannin wine will set your mouth on fire! This actually can work to your advantage when a plate is very mild in spice, the big reds can amp up the heat level, but normally, it is best to look for sweeter wines. Try out a Gewurztraminer with your next spicy dish and see how much your palate opens up.
5. Double the Sugar
When looking for dessert & wine pairings, try a port. You would preferably like a wine sweeter than your dessert. Even if you are not a port wine fan, try taking a tiny sip in between bites of that double dark chocolate fudge cake you love so much. This technique is used not to mask the sweetness in the dessert, but rather bring the savory elements to fruition. A small sip can raise the taste of the nuts, fruit, or garnishes on the dish.
These are some very basic guidelines to wine & food pairing, and while it can be a tasteful science, it also can be a learning experience as well as a personal experiment. Try these 5 ideas out when readying your next appetizer/meal/dessert. Also! Use a Trial & Error technique yourself. Try a wine before eating, take notes and jot down your thoughts and comments. Then take that same wine and drink with your meal, and again take notes. Sleep on those thoughts and the next morning go back and compare and contrast. Ask yourself, What this the right pairing or not? And why? Were notes brought out in the dish that were not prevalent before? Did the wine not live up to your expectations?