Demystifying Wine pt.5
Break free from the safe "red with meat, white with fish" rule to get the most out of your wine.

October 25, 2011

Break free from the safe “red with meat, white with fish” rule to get the most out of your wine.

The flavours of the dish and the wine should complement each other. This doesn’t necessarily mean the meat in a dish, but will often be the sauce that dictates what wine you should be drinking.

The richness of the dish and the corresponding weight of the wine need to be considered.

Don’t match strong to delicate. Don’t pair a big, powerful, high-alcohol or high-tannin wine with a light, delicate dish.

Acidity is your friend. Wines described as “high acid,” such as Sauvignon Blanc are good for rich, creamy or cheesy sauces, deep-fried foods or fish dishes.

Riesling goes with spicy Indian and Asian foods. The light sweetness cuts the heat of the spice, and the firm acidity helps balance the richness of the oil (Asian) or clarified butter (Indian). Red wines tend not to work so well, partly because their tannins can clash with the spices.

Tart wines go better with tart foods, such as vinaigrette on a salad.

Tannins pair well with fat because the astringency of the tannins cuts through the viscosity of the fat.

Follow the don’t-upstage-the-star rule. If the wine is great, maybe an older vintage then keep the dish simple and let the wine shine.

Few combinations are truly terrible.

Red Wines

Pair blue cheese with Shiraz, Zinfandel, or Port – plus whole walnuts or shelled, unsalted nuts.

Manchego with merlot or cabernet – plus fresh or dried figs.

Gouda and Edam with sparkling rose, Chianti, or Shiraz – plus Marcona almonds and red seedless grapes.

White Wines

Fresh mozzarella with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay – plus Champagne grapes and fresh slices of baguette.

Brie with a sparkling white or rose or Chardonnay – plus quince paste, fruit chutney, or (with camembert) a drizzle of honey.

Goat cheese with Pinot Grigio, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc – plus fig jam, tiny black olives, and Marcona almonds.

Swiss and alpine with Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, or Chenin Blanc – plus dried mixed dried fruit.

Everything goes

Mature cheddar with Pinot Noir, Chianti, or Chardonnay – plus mango chutney, sliced apples or pears, and dried cranberries.