Red or White? – Wine Pairing Basics

Posted On: April 24, 2013

For many Americans, wine pairing is a bit of a mystery.  As a country, our wine drinking and food cultures are imported, somewhat recently in comparison with the rest of the world. Do we lack an intuitive sense of wine as food? Or is it because we don’t see wine as an essential part of the dining experience?  Either way, it seems that too often in many American households the only thing being paired with wine, is a fear of doing something wrong.

Pairing wine with food is not an exact science.  There is no wrong answer.  It all boils down to your preferences, but just like cooking there are some basic pillars of understanding that will help guide you in your search for your favorite pairings.

The basics of flavor-matching are actually quite simple (although not always easy to pull off). These are the 6 basic profiles to work with when thinking about matching food and wine (you can read more on using these profiles here):

  1. Acidity in wine pairs well with fatty and sweet foods.
  2. Fatty foods need either an acidic or high alcohol wine, otherwise the wine will taste flabby.
  3. Bitter (aka Tannic) wine can be balanced with a sweet food.
  4. Salty shouldn’t compete with acidity in wine. Use sparingly as necessary to keep sharpness in the meal.
  5. Sweet food/wine benefits from a little acidity.
  6. Alcohol can be used to cut through fatty foods or balance a sweet dish.

Try using these profiles to pair your favorite wines with your favorite meals.

If you are interested in stepping more outside of your comfort zone and are looking for new wines to try out with your favorite meals, there is a nice pairing tool on www.foodandwinepairing,org that can offer great suggestions based on the food that you are preparing.

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