Many books have been published about the perfect wine and food matches. But, the secret is understanding the principals behind them. Only then can you experiment more and come up with the ideal combinations of all times. Fortunately, you don’t have to learn about complicated processes. You only need your usual wine from your wine subscription package and your favorite foods. When you are experimenting with tastes you love, you are more likely to love what you come up with. That is the first rule of wine and food pairing, use what you love. Secondly, strike a balance between the two. From there, you can move to more advanced principles of wine pairing.
Understand the wine structure first
Wine is made up of different components, the most fundamental one being grapes, of course. Grapes provide the fruit flavors and sugar, giving the wine a soft feel when you drink it. The firmness of the wine comes from the tannins and acidity. And then there is the alcohol content, which depends on the mildness or richness of the wine.
What brings the distinction between whites and red wines is the tannins and flavor. Tannins are responsible for the texture and structure of the wine. That brings out the sensation you feel in your cheeks when you sip the wine. Red wines have tannins. On the other hand, only a few white wines have tannins.
Consider the structure and texture of the wine.
Typically, the components of a particular wine are usually balanced until you pair it with wine. That way, you can either increase or diminish the sweetness or acidity of the wine or the tannins’ bitterness. You should pair acidic foods with acidic wines because high-level acidic ingredients such as lemon or vinegar benefit more from acidic wines resulting in a softer texture. In comparison, tart foods make balanced wines flabby.
What happens is, when tannins interact with salts, fats, and spicy flavors, they diminish. For instance, very spicy foods do not go well with tannins and high alcohol content and make the wines feel hotter. Instead, pair them with a light or fruity sweet wine.
Consider the age of the wine.
As the wine ages, it softens. Its youthfulness diminishes, and the tannins soften to result in a graceful and delicate wine. In simple terms, it takes on to its secondary characteristics, which are more complex. For example, a fresh fruity flavor turns to earthy and savory notes. When it comes to pairing dishes with older wines, narrow down your options from rich and heavy flavors to lightweight ones. For instance, a lamb braised for hours in stock would combine well with an old cabernet instead of a grilled, spicy steak.
Pair the wine to the dominant character of the dish
The dominant element of the dish is most often the seasonings, sauce, or cooking method. You can fine-tune any of your favorite wine from your monthly wine subscription to a suitable dish with that in mind. For instance, you have a chicken marsala that’s browned, and on the other hand, you have chicken breasts dipped in creamy lemon sauce. The first one has an earthy flavor that calls for a supple red wine, while the second one needs a combination of fresh white wine.
Wine pairing is always experimentation. When one doesn’t work, do not consider that a mistake but a lesson learned to guide you the next time. It is merely unconventional and more adventurous.