When pairing wine and food, there are so many rules and guidelines that it can be hard to know how to plan meals and events. There are general rules, but of course, there are exceptional wines that break these rules. There are standard dishes, but clever marinating, sauces and other cooking tricks can change the flavor palate and, therefore, the wine that goes best with the meal.
The following will explore some of the golden rules that can help you pair wine and food without all the stress and extensive research. Of course, these are only guidelines. If you or someone else you’re entertaining wants to have a different wine with their meal, that’s completely okay.
Sourcing and Locating Your Wine
The region, country, or area from which you source your wine can have considerable bearing on its flavor and how it pairs with other wines. We recommend that rather than picking up the run-of-the-mill supermarket wine that you opt for something a little more expensive. Some of the finest wines in the world are sourced from Italy, France, Switzerland, and the United States (California in particular), so try to find a wine produced in one of these countries.
With that said, many wine manufacturers are well aware that wines from these countries are the crème de la crème, so produce labels that suggest that their wines are produced or sourced from the aforementioned countries, but they are in actuality not.
Thankfully, however, wine of high quality sourced from these countries will often come with certificates that verify their authenticity. For Italian wine, for example, you will find it labeled with either DOP or IGP. As a rule of thumb, try to look out for these wines when you are out searching for a wine to pair with meals or other bottles of wine. You can find most of these wines in liquor stores or higher-end supermarkets, such as Waitrose in the United Kingdom, or Marks and Spencers.
Wine Should Be More Acidic Than The Food
Acidity is one of the main components of a good wine pairing. It’s something that we inherently understand (lemons taste more acidic than potatoes) but rarely consider when cooking. Experts from Kitchen Authority emphasize that when pairing a dish with a glass of wine, you want the wine to be the more acidic of the two. This is because if the food is more acidic, a lot of the wine’s flavor will be lost by comparison. For even more details, go to website where Kitchen Authority experts share another tip that works well with this piece of information is to be wary of the dressing you include on salads. If there’s a ton of citrus or vinegar in the dressing, you run the risk of overpowering most wines. As a general rule, white wines are more acidic than reds.
Wine Should Be Sweeter Than The Food
Another general rule is to compare the sweetness of the wine and the dish you’re considering pairing it with. You want the wine to be a little sweeter than the food, or you run the risk of drowning out the flavor of the wine. If the meal is sweeter, it can result in a strange bitter aftertaste as the less sweet wine robs the meal of its sugary taste. It can be a little tricky when we step outside of deserts because there are actually a lot of sweeter elements in fantastic recipes. Think about cranberry sauce in a big Sunday roast dinner; that’s a medium sweetness right in the main course. Think about barbeque sauces and fruity marinades.
Bold Flavored Meats (Red Meat) Tend To Work With Red Wines
You’ve probably heard this one before, and it is an excellent rule of thumb to follow. Red meats tend to work well with red wines. Think about the weight of the meal to help make the reasons for this clear. A heavier meat dish, like a steak, for instance, tends to roll well with a more decadent wine. As a general rule, red wines are more solemn than white wines. Heartier meals need heartier wines. You want the texture of the wine to be on par with the texture of the meal.
Lighter Meats (Fish Or Chicken) Tend To Vibe Well With White Wines
You might have also heard this one before. Lighter meats like fish or chicken work well with lighter wines. Again, this is because you want to try and get the texture of your wine to reflect your meal’s texture. White wines tend to be on the lighter side.
Work With The Sauce, Not The Meat
This is a really interesting point because not many people think about this when pairing wines. The flavor you’re working with most isn’t the meat itself, but what you marinate the meat in or what sauce accompanies it. If the meat is crusted in herbs or seasonings, this is what you’re going to want to work with. Of course, the texture matching described above still applies, but often we can change how heavy a meal feels with the sauces they’re cooked in. Chicken can be prepared in a rich tomato sauce that changes everything about how we taste it.
The Hot-Button Issue: Rose
The rose is a highly debated wine among sommeliers, but when you speak to non-professionals, many cite this wine as one of their favorites. Depending on the occasion, and your guests, a rose might be the perfect addition to your plan for the night. Rose has the acidity of a white wine, with the fruity character of red wine. If you have a dryer rose, you can be reasonably sure it’s going to pair well with rich, cheesy dishes. Grilled cheese might not seem like a festive show stopper, but paired with a rose? Everyone is going to feel cozy and comfy.
With the above tips kept in mind, you’re well on your way to pairing wine and food for years to come. Again, it’s entirely okay to overrule the guidelines because of personal preference.