Wine pairing is the process of matching the food and wine to accentuate the taste in both. Wines are often times paired with foods of complimentary flavors and textures. Some wine connoisseurs even like to eat multi-course meals, where each course is paired with a separate wine. Although food and wine pairing depends on one’s individual taste, there are universal guidelines.
One basic wine pairing guideline is to match by color. This means red wine with red meats (beef, lamb etc.), and white wine with white meats (fish, chicken etc.). This general pairing rule is universal, but can be viewed as an over simplification of a complex process. Wine pairing is a subtle artistry, and this general pairing rule is just the starting point. It is important to point out that many different foods can be paired with wine successfully, regardless of color. The reason for this is that foods can be prepared in different ways. Foods prepared differently provide a different taste. When pairing wine with food, you want to go for tastes that compliment each other. Another basic guideline to follow in wine pairing is to match the sauce and not the protein. For example, food prepared with red wine can also be matched with other red wines of a lighter taste.
Another useful guideline to follow when trying to match a particular food with wine is to match the region. You can match wine and foods of the same country or region. If you are eating a pasta dish, you will do well with an Italian wine. An exception to this guideline is foods that are not prepared traditionally. If a dish is not prepared with a traditional recipe or uses spices not indigenous to that country, the wine of that country will not pair well.
The basic goal of wine pairing is to provide a synergy or balance with the wine and food. The food should not overpower the wine. Likewise, the wine should not over power the food. When you are pairing wine with food, treat the wine as you would treat a condiment. The wine should always compliment the food. Wine alone, tastes differently than it does when paired with the right meal. This is because a great wine acts similar to a spice. The features in wine interact with the food to provide certain sensations, as spices do.
Here are some successful food and wine combinations:
White Zinfandel. This wine can be served with traditional dishes like chicken, pork or seafood. White Zinfandel also tastes great with foods that have a red pepper or chili quality.
Sauvignon Blanc. This wine pairs exceptionally well with grilled poultry, pork marinated with lemon, or smoke trout. Other great pairs with this wine are vegetarian cuisine, exotic Asian meals, artichoke dip, creamy Italian sauces, Thai food, sushi, and salads.
Riesling. Riesling will go well paired with any spice Asian cuisine, fresh fruit, salad, pork, poultry or fish.
Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir pairs well with grilled salmon and pasta dishes that are lightly sauced. This wine also tastes great paired with seafood, light-flavored meats and mild-flavored cheese.
Sangiovese and Chianti. These wine pairs well with fowl, meat and pasta dishes. You can also try beef, chicken and tomato-based sauces over pasta with this wine for a brilliant meal.
Zinfandel. This wine is best paired with a wide range of foods. Zinfandel can taste great with barbequed beef, grilled chicken and roast game. This wine is vary versatile and can even be paired with highly seasoned foods and sauces.
Cabernet Sauvignon. This type of wine tastes exceptionally well with rich roasted meats like prime rib.
Pinot Grigio. This wine pairs nicely with seafood, pastas, cheese and crackers.
Chardonnay. Chardonnay can be paired with poultry, pork and seafood.
Merlot. Merlot pairs well with poultry, red meat, pork, pasta and salad.
When pairing wine you can follow the general guidelines and these suggestions. However, the true tester of how good a pairing is is your own senses. Try what you like, experiment and enjoy the process.