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Pairing Food and Wine It's Easy

Updated on August 28, 2018

Pairing Food And Wine Tips

By Sharon Stajda

Pairing food and wine is actually not all that hard. I hope to clear up all the mystery about why certain wine tastes better with certain kinds of food, and why can't we just drink any type of wine with any kind of food?

In theory, wine can enhance the flavor of certain foods or obliterate it! So you must make the choice. Do you want a war going on in your mouths or do you want a peaceful pleasant dining experience? Naturally, it would be impossible for me to cover this vast subject in any good detail in one article, given the small space allowed here. However, I hope to provide enough information to "wet the whistle" so to speak. To make it possible for you to be able to pick out a good complimentary wine for a restaurant meal, and also to enable you to face that wine section at the grocery store with new found courage.

It may surprise you, but you may know more than you think when it comes to pairing wine with food. When it's a chilly night in December, do you reach for a crisp white wine or a deep warm red wine? When you order a white fish, do you prefer light white wine or a dark rich red? No, it's not that easy, you see there are many white wines that would taste just as wonderful as a rich red wine in front of that cozy fire. When pairing wine with food, there are some simple rules you should always keep in mind. Consider, is the food you will be eating rich in flavor or will that food be light flavored, and lean of fat? Will the food or condiments that have been added to the recipe be acidic? Will the food be sweet or salty or spicy hot? Believe it or not, wines share all of these taste elements. Depending on the wine the elements will naturally vary in flavor. It's our task to pair these undertone elements with the undertones in any given food. If the pairing is successful, the wine will enhance the taste of the meal, and the wine itself will shine through with a wonderful flavor all its own.

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Food & Wine Pairing Cheat Sheet

Please keep in mind there are wine enthusiast that does not follow any written rule when it comes to pairing food with wine, and will ultimately choose a wine just by the mere fact that they like the taste. That's OK, nothing is written in stone.

Wines that work to compliment - Roast Lamb; Game Birds; Goose, Duck; Roast Chicken; Roast Beef; Suggested wines - Shiraz; Rhone Varietals; Cabernet; Sauvignon; Merlot.

Wines that work to compliment - Turkey; Sausage; lean roast beef; Suggested wines - Pinot Noir; White Zinfandel.

Wines that work to compliment - Cream Soups; Rich Fish Dishes; Shellfish; Suggested wines - Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

Wines that work to compliment - Dishes made with heavy white cream sauces; Suggested wines - Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Wines that work to compliment Spicy food; Suggested wine - Riesling.

Wines that work to compliment - Pasta with red sauces; Cabernet; Suggested wines - Merlot; Syrah.

Wines that work to compliment - Ham, Cheese; Asian Food. Suggested wines - German Gewurztraminer or Riesling.

Wines that work to compliment -Smoked Fish; Caviar; Sushi; Prosciutto; egg Dishes; Suggested wines - Sparkling Wines and Best with Champagne.

What Wine Compliments Rich Heavy Tasting Food.

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What Makes A Red Wine So Rich In Flavor - Tannin's

Let's start with wines that will complement rich heavy foods. Foods such as meat with high-fat content, recipes that contain rich fatty sauces or fatty poultry, such as duck. Foods that are high in fat content will naturally coat the tongue with fat. So when choosing a wine for these heavier foods, you'll want to choose a wine that will cut that fat coating from the tongue. By cutting through the fat on the tongue, you will not only bring out the flavor of the tasty wine but the wonderful flavor of the food you are eating.

So, what property in wine is successful in cutting through the fat on the tongue? That property in wine that can cut that fat is called tannins. Tannins will clean work to cut through that fat, and let you enjoy the food flavors as well as the good wine. Tannins love protein, and when the wine's tannins come in contact with proteins, they bind to them and works as a cleaning agent. Tannins are more pronounced in red wines than in white wines. Tannins can come from many sources. Mainly, from the skin and seeds of the Grape in the form of Procyanidin Monomers tannins. This form of tannin is produced naturally from the grape skins and seeds. The seeds being especially harsh. The reason that red wine is more apt to be higher in tannins, come from the way the red wines are fermented. The red wines are exposed for a longer period of time to the seeds and skins so naturally are rich in tannins. The oak itself barrel also gives off a form of tannin (Hydrolysable tannin). This longer fermentation period makes the tannins more prevalent in the finished wine. Keep in mind some red wines are lower in tannins, due to being fermented for a shorter period in the seeds and skins. One such red is Merlot. To compare red wines with white wines. Think white wines are made by extracting the seeds and grapes early in the fermentation period. Making them have far fewer tannins and more acidic as well as lighter in taste.


Think Fresh Tasting White Wines Wine Foods That Are Of A Sour Nature

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What Type Of Wine Pairs Well With Acidic Foods?

Let's now consider foods that are of a sourer nature. Foods that would be considered high in acid. Like a salad with vinaigrette dressing, fish with lemon or a dishes made with an acidic tomato sauce. The rule of thumb when pairing wine with foods that are acidic in nature, meet acid with acid. The acidic nature of white wines mesh well with acidic foods, they do not compete or spoil one another flavor.

Wines that are high in acid. Riesling; Sauvignon Blanc; Chenin Blanc; Chardonnay; Champagne.

So what will it be--- War or Peace?

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Wine Tips

  • Look at the percentage of alcohol on the label. As a rule the higher the alcohol level the dryer the wine.

    The lower the alcohol level the sweeter the wine. This rule will not hold true for fortified wines. (fortified wines have a higher alcohol content ).

  • Tannins - This is not foolproof but as a rule, a good way to estimate Tannins in a wine. Look at the color. The lighter the color, as a rule, the fewer tannins. Remember fatty dishes need Tannins to cut the fat.

Bosco's Italian Red Pairs Wonderful With Steak

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Wine Pick Of The Season Bosco's Italian Red. Its So Good With Barbecued Steak

Tasting Notes:

I purchased Bosco's Italian red, made and age from 2001. I give this one thumb up!

It is a fine wine, Dark ruby-red color. The bouquet is velvety and smooth, sweet to the nose, the flavor is dry. Room temperature is a good temperature to serve this wine, but remember temperature is according to what the drinker desires. It is spicy, with pepper undertones. The texture is full bodied, appears thick, with slight legs. I loved this wine. Will most definitely purchase it again and again.

Pairing Note:

I paired my Bosco Italian Red with a dinner that included a wonderful green salad, with an Italian red wine olive oil dressing, barbecued steak, roasted fresh corn, side of Dirty rice. Bosco's Italian red was so complimentary to this meal. All the wonderful food tasted came through, and the wines taste was stood on its own.

Wine History:

At the end of the XIX century, when the young Giovanni Bosco began to cultivate vines, the city of Castellammare Adriatico (that became Pescara in 1926) had no more than 15.000 inhabitants and extended on a narrow land. All around was the countryside and the "Lovers Hills" of Pescara were a fertile ground for vines: on those hills grew the first vines that thereafter characterized the Bosco's Family history. Strong and tenacious as the vine, Giovanni finally obtained a wonderful red wine with an intensive bouquet and a spicy taste, that once named Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, became famous all over the world in the following century. It was 1897 and Bosco Winery was born.

In 1897 when Giovanni Bosco began to cultivate vines on the hills of Pescara. The business was passed on to his son, Nestor, and succeeding generations. In the last three centuries, the male Boscos have borne one of two names, Giovanni and Nestore, on an alternating basis. In the 1980s, a Giuseppe constructed the new winery at Nocciano. His son, Nestor, and daughter, Stefania, now oversee operations. The Bosco winery draws on grapes grown on 148 acres and the varieties cultivated include Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Moscato. But Montepulciano d'Abruzzo occupies the greatest portion of terrain. Annual production amounts to about 600,000 bottles a substantial share of which is exported to other European countries, the United States, Canada, Central America and Australia.

Baumard Savennieres Clos du Papillon Pairs Well With Green Salad

Wine Of The Month - Serving A Green Salad? Consider This Fine Wine

Loire Valley, The note of tropical fruit and a ripe intensity of a Domaine des Baumard Savennieres Clos du Papillon (2004 price $30.00) makes this expression of the Chenin Blanc. It is dry and has a fine finish. This wine would be a good wine to serve with a green salad or light savory dishes such as frittatas.

So What Have You Learned? - Take my poll below, and see if you can pick a good wine for the presented meal.

A green salad with blue cheese dressing. A creamy bisque soup. A nice big steak, baked potato with lots of butter, asparagus with a cheese sauce. (hint thinks about your protein laden tongue, all covered with fat.)


Which would be your safest choice of wine for this dinner menu?

See results

Wine Tasting Cherry Kijafa

Please take time to sign my guest book - Its a great way to make friends...

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    • PoetikalyAnointed profile image

      PoetikalyAnointed 

      4 weeks ago from US

      Hello Sharlee,

      Thanks for this Beginner's Guide for pairing food with wine. I read an article years ago about this but I'd forgotten. I thank you for the reminder...just in case.

      I'm not a wine drinker; i'm more a Grape Sparkling Cider kinda Gal.

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 

      6 years ago

      Nice lens! This are really good pairs. I found them really useful. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Well, i love wine, if it is red or white. Pinot Nior is my favourite.

      If you get the chance check out my Trennkost Tabelle blog.

    • profile image

      craigorr 

      10 years ago

      Very enjoyable and informative lens. Particularly liked all the cool things you have linked to on ebay and amazon. If you get the chance then check out my food and wine pairing blog. It's still early days for me but I hope to learn and add to it as I go.

    • profile image

      Keaka77 

      10 years ago

      Another Great Lens Shar... Great information.. Keep up the good work.

      Internet Home Based Business

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      12 years ago

      Great topic! Good information. I enjoyed reading your lens!

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