Wine Pairing Basics

Wine Pairing Basics

Wine pairing is the process of pairing food dishes with the right wine. It’s a technique of matching flavors that complement each other to help you enjoy your dining experience even more. Wine pairing is not solely about matching what you eat with what you drink just to elevate your experience, but also to enhance the value of each component.

Food and wine should balance each other out; neither one should overwhelm the other. Pair equal flavors to produce the right balance; example, bold red wine with a plate of beef or a light white wine with seafood. Whether you’re a foodie or a wine drinker, you can take a look at these guidelines and tips to help you correctly pair a glass of wine with the perfect food.

The Basic Rules

With wine pairings, you need to match the wine to the main element of the dish whether it’s the main ingredient, the sauce or the seasonings, sauce. Chicken in mushroom sauce, for example, has an earthier flavor—so you’ll need to pair it with red wine; however, grilled chicken in creamy chili lemon sauce will work well with white wine.

Flavor Profiles

When it comes to wine and food, there are 6 main flavor profiles:

  1. Acidic
  2. Salty
  3. Sweet
  4. Fatty
  5. Bitter
  6. Alcohol

You can mix and match each profile with another to produce the right wine pairing combos. For example, you can go for a bitter, tannic wine with sweet food.

Congruent & Complementary Wine Pairing

This technique is about pairing two similar flavors in order to amplify the other and result in a good balance—like creamy mac and cheese and Chardonnay. Complementary pairing, on the other hand, is when one flavor cuts through and balances out the other. Mac and cheese can also go well with Pinot Grigio, which is a lot sharper than Chardonnay.

10 Pairings You Will Surely Love

I understand that learning how to pair wine and food perfectly is a skill that you will develop over time, the more you practice it. So if you need a cheat sheet right now, here are 10 classic examples of wine pairing you can try.

1. Cabernet and Red Meat

Rich wine will do well when paired with a rich dish which is why Cabernet and red meat are perfect together.

2. Pinot Noir and Pizza (or mushroom dishes)

You can pair a Pinot Noir with savory and earthy flavors like hearty pizzas or mushroom-based dishes.

3. Pinot Grigio and Seafood

Pinot Grigio and light seafood dishes like clams, lobster or prawn work perfectly together because of their delicate flavors.

4. Chardonnay and Salmon

Chardonnay is perfect with Salmon. A medium-bodied Chardonnay works with light meats like fish.

5. Sauvignon Blanc and Tart Flavored Dishes

A glass or Sauvignon Blanc will work nicely with dishes that have tart sauce or dressing.

6. Rosé and Cheese

Rosé is your go-to drink when you have cheese because it has the acidity of white wine and the fruity notes of red wine.

7. Riesling and Sweet & Spicy Dishes

Riesling is mildly sweet and it can help balance spicy dishes.

8. Sparkling Wine and Salty Dishes

Sparkling wines have sweet notes which make them perfect for pairing with salty foods.

9. Syrah and Extra Spicy Dishes

Syrah can elevate the flavor of your heavily spiced dish.

10. Zinfandel and Pates

Zinfandel is very rich making it a good accompaniment to rich foods like pâtés, terrines and mousses.

Try these tips when dining at Old Country. For more wine pairing tips, check out:

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