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Some Wine and Food Pairing Basics

With the debut of our new (and might I add fabulous) section, Cooked, I thought it would be appropriate to post a few wine and food pairing basics. While we don’t all have time to spend crafting our meals to a particular wine (which is why Cooked is only posted once a week), a few simple tips can take any meal to wine pairing stardom.

1. The key is balance.
Balance is probably the best word to describe any good wine OR wine and food pairing. Imagine your dish, will your tomato base sauce overwhelm your Sauvignon Blanc…probably. So don’t pair a light white with it. Food and wine should match each other in terms of body and acidity. Reach for a medium to heavy bodied red instead, say a Chianti?

2.  Never, ever pair oil with tannin.
A great example of this is serving a food bodied Napa Valley Cabernet with Salmon, it just doesn’t work. Again the two elements are out of balance.

3. Sweet and spicy.
I know this goes against my whole balance concept, but hey it works. The sweetness in wines (i.e. Riesling, Gewürztraminer) balances spice in most dishes and pairs perfectly with Asian flavors.

4. Think flavors, not protein.
Most pairing descriptions go something like this…”Best served with poultry and pork.” It’s a good start, but very wide open. I like to tell people to think more in terms of flavor. Pork may be great with Pinot Noir but if you sear it with a black pepper crust, the food flavors will pummel the delicious and fragile flavors of the wine. Instead of focusing on the type of protein you are serving with the wine, focus on any sauces and herbs that will be the star of the dish.

5. If all else fails, serve Pinot Noir.
It’s the most food friendly wine out there, most likely it will serve as a great compliment to your meal.

You can find our food and wine pairing section, Cooked, here every Wednesday. Cooked is written by Jackie Poole, Decanted’s Marketing & E-Commerce Manager (and my sister). She has been into food and crafting custom recipes for as long as I can remember, although I did not inherit any of that talent!