Not sure what wine to pair with your steak? Or perhaps you’ve got a cheese platter that’s screaming for a wine accompaniment. Knowing the right wine pairing is not only a great party trick, but it helps to elevate your food to delicious new heights.
With the following tips, you can take any bottle from your wine racks and pair it with food like a pro at your next dinner party.
Choose a Wine That Is Complementary or Congruent with Your Food
Next time you search your wine racks for a bottle of wine to go with dinner, think of either ‘congruent’ or ‘complementary’ pairings.
Congruent Wine Pairing:enhances the food by mirroring similar flavour compounds. An example would a creamy pasta dishes being matched with a creamy white wine such as a chardonnay.
Complimentary Wine Pairing:enhances the food through complementing or contrasting the flavour compounds. An example would be a pasta dish with a creamy béchamel sauce being complemented by a zesty, highly acidic white wine such as a sauvignon blanc.
More often than not, red wine is congruent to its paired food, whereas white wine, rosé and sparkling tend to be complementary.
The 6 Main Tastes to Focus On
Although there are 20 different types of tastes we can identify as humans, there are only 6 you need to focus on when pairing food with wine. These are:
The 3 main groups used for categorising wine flavours are:
- Red wines (bitter)
- White wine, sparkling wines and rosé are more acidic
- Sweet Wines are (as the name suggests) sweeter.
Wines tend to lack saltiness, spiciness and fat, which is why they can be good to complement or contrast these flavours. You can check out our blog on wine tasting for beginners here.
Pair Wines and Food with A Similar Body (Weight)
When we refer to wine or food’s ‘body’ or ‘weight’, we mean whether they have a lighter or heavier flavour. Light food - which tends to be lower in fat - can pair with lighter wines, and heavier, rich food pairs with wines of a similar palette.
Lightweight food includes poultry and fish. An example of lighter-bodied wines includes white wines such as Pinot Grigio, sweet Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Heavier and richer foods include red meat casseroles which can pair with full-bodied wines like shiraz.
This is why your wine racks should have a variety of wine ‘bodies’, allowing you to have wine for every dish.
Red Wines Pair Well With Bold Meats
There is an age-old saying that red wine should pair with red meat, and although there are many delicious exceptions to this, it is a handy rule of thumb to have. However, a more accurate rule is that red wines should pair with bold meats. These include food such as steak, beef casserole and spaghetti.
So, love a good steak? Make sure to have some bold red wines in your wine collection.
White Wine Pairs Well With Lighter Meats Like Fish
White wines tend to pair well with fish, seafood, chicken, creamy pasta and cheese.
You Can Pair Wine with the Sauce Rather Than the Meat
It can sometimes be tricky to pair a wine with food if it has a heavy sauce present. On those occasions, it can be better to pair your wine with the sauce rather than the meat to avoid any confusing flavour palettes.
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