How to Pair Wine with Food

By  //  December 23, 2019

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Before you can start pairing wine with food, you must understand some things. For example, you must know what the wine tastes like, and what the food tastes like.

Before you can start pairing wine with food, you must understand some things. For example, you must know what the wine tastes like, and what the food tastes like.

You must also understand the texture and richness of the meal, and be able to tell them apart from similar other meals. Understandably, this seems like a lot of work. But then, the tips on this list can make the process easier for you. 

Look for balance.

You need to look for a balance between the wine and the meal. The richness and texture of the wine shouldn’t overwhelm the food, and vice versa. If one is stronger or more present than the other, the experience will be one-sided. Once you nail the balance of the two, you have a high chance that the pairing will succeed.

All wine-food pairings are based on this principle. Hearty foods like lamb chops require equally hearty wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon. A crisp white wine would ruin the whole taste.

Match the wine with the most prominent item on the dish.

Once you understand the first point, you need to be able to identify the most prominent item on the dish. Very often, it’s the sauce or seasoning, not the main ingredient. For example, think of a dish like chicken marsala with a browned surface and a side dish of mushrooms. 

The dish’s most prominent flavor is a caramelized earthy flavor, and so, it requires a soft, supple red wine. The taste of the chicken itself isn’t as important as the preparation and ingredients that follow.

Watch the age of the wine.

Once you’re able to match the texture of wine with a dish, you’re ready to move on to the next step. You should consider the age of the wine. Aged wines have a different texture and flavor than unaged ones. You can expect the tannins to soften. In wines with fruity flavors, the wine will taste more complex the older it gets.

Plan your purchases.

Once you’re able to pair wine and dish properly, you’ve pretty much become a professional. But then, the last obstacle on your way is the availability of wine.

You can’t pair wine with food if you don’t have the wine with you. That’s why it’s crucial to plan your purchases. If you love cooking your own meals, you should think about what you might cook and the best wine for the job.

You can then buy your wine along with the ingredients for the dish. You can also buy wine baskets. They come with several items that the wine can pair nicely with, like dark chocolate, for example.

Choose what you like.

At the end of the day, all that really matters is what you enjoy. The best food and wine pairing will be a combination that appeals most to you. It’s possible to try all the combinations on this list and still have a favorite that’s not here at all. If that’s your situation, go right ahead and eat what you want. 

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