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?
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.