The Italians hold a belief that good wine can best be enjoyed when consumed alongside a nice meal, as this allows the drinker to experience the full rush of flavours offered by the wine while also discovering how said flavours complement those of their favoured traditions. It is a time-honoured tradition to enjoy wine and food together, but it is also one that often goes neglected by people who either consume wine without food or simply aren’t sure about the types of wine that pair well with the foods they enjoy.
With that in mind, we have decided to take a closer look at the subject so that we can compile a few tips that should help you pick the perfect wine for your food. By following these pointers you will be able to begin your journey into wine and food pairing, allowing you to experiment a little further on down the road.
Tip 1 – Keep An Open Mind
Regardless of what is stated in this article, you should be as experimental as you feel comfortable with when choosing a wine to go with your food, as it is only through trying something that we can truly discover its merits. However, as a general set of rules you will be looking for a wine that either complements the flavours of the dish you are to eat or can provide enough of a contrast to them that it doesn’t get overpowered by the food. Try to keep these rules in mind when choosing but understand that they are not hard and fast rules.
Tip 2 – Understand the Qualities of the Food and Wine
In order to make a good choice you are going to have to understand more about the wine in terms of its sweetness, acidity and tannins, while also considering the type of food you are going to eat and the way that it has been cooked. For example, your food may exhibit different flavours if it was roasted to the ones you would experience if it was steamed. It is important to consider this when making a selection. Try to keep in mind that your main aim is to select a wine that will be able to draw your attention away from the food when consumed, without being so overpowering that you are unable to enjoy the flavours of the food again when you return to it. Richer dishes are often the most difficult to match, so it may be a good idea to try cheaper wine with those if you need to experiment a little.
Tip 3 – Consuming Wine And Food Together
Before pairing your chosen food and wine you also need to understand how to consume them together in order to get the most out of the flavours. The best way to do this is to first take a sip of the wine an allow it to roll around in your mouth. Try to pick out the core components of the wine, such as sweetness or any notes of flavour that you may be experiencing. You should then consider this summation of your wine when you consume your food. Look for similar characteristics in both that you can link up by eating a small piece of your food. Consider every part of the tasting experience in both cases, from the initial taste right through to the aftertaste. If you find you have enjoyed a pleasurable experience while consuming both one after the other, you have hit upon a good wine pairing that is worth further exploration.
Tip 4 – Remember Basic Pairings
While the best pairings for you are going to be completely subjective, there are some fairly generic pairing conventions that you can try sticking to if you are unsure where to start. For example, red meat dishes are often rich in flavour and thus best paired with a red wine, whereas chicken dishes are more suited to a white. Spicy food is often well paired with a sweeter wine in order to contrast the flavours that you are consuming, with the same going for desserts as most other wines would be overpowered by the richness of the flavour. Keep those basic rules in mind when making your choices, but remember that they are somewhat fluid and there is nothing saying that you must adhere to them if you happen to discover a pairing that works well for you.
Tip 5 – Pair Regional Wine With Appropriate Delicacies
Given the Italian disposition for consuming wine alongside their food, it is probably no surprise that most regions that produce wine will also have a number of delicacies that have been created in conjunction with the wine. As such, if you’re willing to put a little research in and find out what the people local to the producer of your chosen vintage enjoy, you will usually find a readymade pairing just waiting for you. Best of all, this can also act as a starting point for being able to pick out specific aspects of the food and wine that allow them to go well together, which is a skill you can transfer to your later efforts to find good pairings. Plus, you will get to discover foods that you haven’t tried before, which is always a good thing.
Tip 6 – Work From The Wine Backwards
Most people will look to create their meal first and then find a wine that suits it as well as possible, but it is often best to choose the wine first before deciding on the meal. This will allow you to research the specific vintage and find out what others like to pair with it. While you don’t need to stick to what others have to say, it can act as a useful starting point for those who are unsure of what they would like to pair together. By working in this fashion you won’t limit your wine choices based on the food that you have cooked, though you do limit your food choices based on the wine you have chosen. As such, select the method that works best for you.