How Does Wine Pairing Work?
Wine pairing involves finding the perfect wine and food combination. When it comes to pairing wine and food the aim is to enhance your dining experience with complimenting tastes so the balance of flavours, body and alcohol is key.
The general rule is to try and match full-bodied wines that are relatively high in alcohol with full-flavoured dishes and lighter less alcohol wines with more subtle flavours. However you can either create a contrasting pairing that offers balance by having contrasting tastes or a congruent pairing that amplifies the shared flavour compounds.
Contrasting pairings highlight an unexpected contrast between the food and wine pairing. For example you would match a white wine with a creamy pasta dish which allows the dryness of the wine to cut through the creaminess for a refreshing taste.
For congruent pairings you will have a wine that compliments the flavours of your food and heightens them. This is why you will usually go for a congruent pairing when you are using wine whilst you are cooking.
To give you a helping hand, here are some well known wine and food pairings-
Salty foods such as fish give body to the wine but reduce the bitterness and acidity whilst pulling out the fruity flavours in your wine which mellows out the strong tannins. This means they work great with white wines such as sauvignon blanc or riesling that will compliment the saltiness of the food. Seafood dishes are also great with champagne and sparkling wines that carry a hint of heat.
Although a wine high in alcohol mixed with spice can be overwhelming to your taste buds, with the right wine you can find a complementary pairing. A wine that mellows out the dish such as a Riesling is often thought as a good match as sweet wines can help reduce the heat. However fruity red wines such as a Shiraz are great for those wanting a bolder drink with their hot curry. Spicy foods are ideal for congruent and complementary wine pairings.
Red meats tend to work well with red wines such as Malbec, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. As red meats like steak have a strong robust flavour, a heavy wine is good to match the taste of the meat. The makeup of the tannin in red wine makes the proteins in the meat softer to bring out flavours that have been trapped in the fat. Whereas with lighter meats such as chicken, red wine usually overpowers the delicate taste.
Sparkling wines and white wines work well with chicken dishes as it is best to balance the meal with an acidic white wine. The crisp taste of the white wine offers a subtle compliment to chicken-based meals.
Rich foods like mousses, terrines or pâtés should be paired with a Zinfandel as the richness of the wine complements the strong flavours in the food. The sharpness also helps to cleanse the palate of the rich food flavours.
You need to make sure the wine tastes sweeter than the dessert or the wine will be overwhelmed and lose its flavour. Sweet food can also risk enhancing the bitterness in the wine so that it won’t taste as pleasant to drink. This means you should avoid pairing sweet foods with wine that have high tannins in.
For cheese and wine pairings, have a read of our previous blog ‘What are Good Wine-Cheese Pairings?’ to find the tastiest combinations.
Why not come and try our recommended wine and food pairings at our cellar door wine tasting experience. We have the classic tasting where you get a 50ml glass of our red, white and rosé Latimer wines alongside 3 complementing 3 tasting dishes of your choice for £11.95 per person or the signature tasting that includes 7 x 50ml glasses of of our Latimer, Winemakers and Eleanor signature wines with 3 tasting dishes of your choices for £17.95 per person.