“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures” -Michael Broadbent-
Good wine, good food and good company indeed adds colour and vibrancy for the most celebratory moments of one’s life and what more could you ask for than this divine combination! Whether or not you do believe in soulmates, when it comes to pairing wine and food, you cannot just have a glass of wine with any type of food hoping it would give the best taste of both the wine and the food. Therefore, here is to state that wine too have their own ‘soulmate’ when it comes to food, hence, one could only enjoy the best of the tastes when wines are paired well with their matching food. Sounds complicated? Do not fear, as we are about to unveil few tips on how you could master the essential skill of pairing wine and food like a pro for your next celebration with your loved ones (or with that special soulmate of yours!).
Before we slide into the tips, let’s first learn why it is best to find wine and food each other’s soulmates. To keep it simple, the pairing has a lot to do with the taste & aroma components, whether food is super light or super rich (intensity) and also whether your wine of choice is light or bold. To start with, lets first look into the taste components. Currently, the modern world has identified around 20 different taste components generally in food, however, luckily to know how to pair wine and food we should only know about the basic types of taste components found in food and which we are all aware of, but just to bring back your knowledge, the basic taste components could be shown as below.
Figure 1 The six basic taste components in food
Even though taste components have its individualistic characteristics, when consumed together, it is important to know that you should avoid clashing bitter, acid and piquant components in a meal as those elements does not complement each other’s taste. To relate food and wine more closely, how above taste components are included in each type of wine, as it will give prodigious tips on how best food should be paired with wine and this would be portraited through the below picture.
Figure 2 The taste components included in different types of wine
Referring to the above, it is clear that red wines comprise with more bitter components and less of sweet components whilst white, sparkling & rosé wines comprise more of acid components and less of bitter components and sweet wines of course are rich with its sweet elements and less of bitter. Now that the taste components are identified, let’s get to know about the intensity of wine and food and how they should be paired based upon this factor. Firstly, we should consider if the food is light or heavy and what basic taste elements are presented in food. For instance, let’s consider a bowl of classic mac & cheese, and the chances are that it could fall into the category of heavy meal comprised mainly of taste elements such as fat and salt, therefore with a bowl of mac & cheese, a wine that would complements the most would be a sweet wine such as an Off-dry Riesling as the mid amount of acidity taste components included in Riesling allows to balance the taste of the saltiness of the cheese. But on the other hand, let’s consider a bowl of salad, which is typically categorised as a light meal, however, a dressing in a salad may have higher acidity taste components, therefore choosing a wine with low-acid taste components such as Chardonnay to bring out the fruity elements, would be a smarter choice to elevate the richness in the tastes. Moreover, is also important to match the intensity of food with the intensity of the wine, hence it is important to know if the wine you have selected is a light bodied one or a bold one. To elaborate it more, let’s consider few examples of types of wine. Whites such as Sauvignon Blanc is a lighter-bodied one with more acidity taste component, however, as stated above, whites such as Chardonnay actually has lesser acidic components, but it is a full bodied one. In terms of bitterness, reds such as Pinot Noir is high in bitter components and considered a lighter bodied wine whilst a Cabernet Sauvignon too has much more bitter components but considered a full-bodied wine.
Now that it’s clear how taste and intensity play a major role in deciding which wine to pair with which food, let’s look deep into how best you could pair different types of wine with the food of your choice so that you could be everyone’s favourite party host!
Bold red (such as Malbec, Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Pinotage, Petite Sirah, Tourigna Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Blend, Meritage):
Bold reds are best paired with food comprises of either red meats, hard cheeses or if seasoned with black pepper, also if the food were grilled, barbecued or roasted in preparation.
Medium Red (such as Merlot, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Barbera):
Best suited for food that includes either pork, pungent cheeses, alliums such as garlic/shallots etc., vegetables that are nightshades and fungi and also if spices and herbs such as red pepper and turmeric/ginger etc. Moreover, if food were mostly smoked when it comes to food preparation.
Light Red (such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, Gamey, St Laurent, Carignan, Counoise):
For food that includes either cured meat or poultry, soft cheese & cream and if sautéed or fried when preparing the food.
Rosé (such as Provençal Rosé, White Zinfandel, Loire Valley Rosé, Pinot Noir Rosé, Syrah Rosé, Garnacha Rosado, Bandol Rosé, Tempranillio Rosé, Saignee Method Rosé):
Rosé is best paired with food that are root vegetables and squash such as turnip, butternut, pumpkin, carrots and etc. Moreover, it could also be consumed with food that has dairy such as different cheeses.
Rich White (such as Chardonnay, Semillon, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne):
This is best served with food that includes either meats such as poultry and lobster & shellfish, soft cheese & cream or with fungi such as mushroom.
Light White (such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Vermetino, Melon De Bourgogne, Garganega, Trebbiano, Pinot Gris):
Light whites would be best paired with food that includes either fish, green vegetables, beans & peas and/or food that have been poached or steamed and are being seasoned with herbs.
Sparkling (such as Champagne, Prosecco, Crémant, Cava, Metodo Classico, Sparkling wine, Sparkling rosé):
Sparkling would be a divine combination with food such as oyster, mussels and clams and could also be paired (yet, not the best) with most types of cheeses.
Sweet White (such as Moscato, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Late harvest whites, Alsatian Pinot Gris):
Best paired with food that includes either cured meat (such as salami, prosciutto, bacon etc.), nuts & seeds, fruit & berries, sweet starchy vegetables, whole white grains and/or food that have been seasoned with hot sauce/habanero/Sichuan pepper and etc. or with aromatic spices such as turmeric/ star anise etc.
Dessert (Port, Sherry, Madeira, Viv Santo, Muscat):
Would give the best of tastes when paired well with pungent cheeses and/or chocolate and toffee or if food includes baking spices such as cinnamon/clove/allspice and etc.
This concludes the simple and easy guide to find food and wine their matching soulmates and now it’s your time to enjoy the divine combination of good food, (excellently paired) good wine with the company of your loved ones!