When planning a meal for family or friends, for a special holiday or occasion, or for no reason at all, how do you decide what wines would be best to serve?
Wine and food matching really isn’t that difficult once you know a few of the basic principles.
Here are some tips to guide you:
- Try to match your wine to the strongest flavour on the plate.
- Balance the weight of the wine to the weight of the food. A full-flavoured dish pairs well with a full-bodied wine; a lighter dish works best with a lighter wine. (Try a Soave with fish & chips, or Cabernet Sauvignon with bbq ribs.)
- Rich dishes work well with a dry wine with good acid (like Valpolicella with pizza, or Verdicchio with a fish fry).
- Salty dishes work best with a slightly sweet wine with full fruit flavours. (How about Riesling with smoked & cured meats, or with a Greek salad?)
- Hot, spicy dishes require refreshing acidity with a touch of sweetness. (Try a Gewurztraminer with Thai or Indian food.)
- Cream and butter sauces match well with creamy style wines (like Chardonnay).
- Rare meats and young tannic wines go well together, as do well-done meats and older fruity reds with little or no tannins. (Think rare steak with Australian Shiraz and Sunday pot roast with Merlot.)
- Dessert wine should always be sweeter than the dessert (which is why Port and Stilton cheese is considered a classic match.)
At the end of the day there really is no right or wrong match for a food. Taste is very personal and there are many combinations that work well. The key is to pair a dish with a wine you believe enhances the overall dining experience.