When it comes to pairing food and wine, the world has a huge amount of things to offer you whether you’re looking at pairing some simple dishes such as canapes with light refreshments when hosting a cocktail party or you’re looking to pair a full 10 course tasting menu with a delightful wine flight. It goes without saying that wine is a powerful flavored beverage and therefore you have to be incredibly careful to pair your wine carefully with your food to avoid it overpowering the more delicate flavor profiles present. If you’d like a demonstration of this, try eating something light such as scallops before glugging a glass of strong red…it completely destroys the tastes present.
As such, pairing wine with food really is an art. Our friends over at Fine Wine Master have done an excellent job of rounding up a Food and Wine Pairing Guide which is a great place for newbies to start, but honestly there is very little replacement for just trying out and learning from your own experiences. We can offer some guiding principles which should help you get started, and then you can chose how to take things from there yourself.
- Hor d’oeuvres are best paired with a dry rosé
- When you’re pairing a wine with hor d’oeuvres or canapes, it’s almost always best to opt for a dry rosé or under special circumstances, champagne or prosecco. These delicate tastes help to carefully showcase the beautiful and subtle flavors typically present in canapes / hor d’oeuvres and balance out the flavor profile of the wine well.
- Acidic foods should be paired with acidic drinks
- This is a brilliant tip which is obvious when you think about it – what would you pair with a lemon tart, a sharp white wine or a heavy red? Obvious right? Well, you’d be surprised. Especially when you’re talking about fruit or desserts, make sure you always pair acid with acid.
- Fatty foods need tannins
- Think of this as the savory version of the advice above – if you’re serving fatty foods (rich meats, for example) then opt for a wine with a healthy serving of tannins such as a merlot or malbec, almost definitely a red.
- Heat pairs with sweet
- If you’re going to be serving Asian food or anything with a healthy serving of spice then opt for something on the sweeter side of the flavor profile spectrum. Brilliantly, this doesn’t confine you to exclusively red or white since you can opt for whatever pairs best with your meal at hand, but you should always aim to pair spicy foods with a sweeter wine.
- Salt needs bubbles
- When serving salty food (specifically anything which has a salty base – think serrano ham and melon starters for example) you should always opt to go for a bubbly beverage. As always, champagne would usually be preferable or if not you can always opt for something on the cheaper end such as prosecco or cava.
- Earthy foods should be paired with earthy wines
- If you’re going to be serving up earthy foods (truffles or mushrooms are a great example, although ramen can often feature here too – basically anything with a strong umami taste) then you want to be aiming to serve up an earthy wine. Typically heavy, these work synergistically with each other to bring out the best of both the wine and of the food.
Pairing food and wine is an excellent skill and one every wine fan should develop, so check out the tips and try your best. Let us know what works for you and we’ll keep this guide updated as best we can!
If you’re still looking for some quick tips, check out the following video from Shoptopia on YouTube for 6 basic rules to get you started.