This article was published on April 7th, 2015
Pairing wine and food doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s actually quite easy. Understanding the basics, and the commonalities between food and wine can take your pairing abilities from zero to hero in no time. Here are the basics of what you need to know and understand, along with some examples of awesome pairings to help you get started right away.
Let’s get started with understanding how we taste food. As food is placed in your mouth, your taste buds adapt its perception towards the various levels of flavour components in the food that you are tasting(i.e. sugar, salt, spice, etc.) and the item you taste next or before. A common food interaction is when your orange juice tastes unpleasantly acidic when you drink it after using toothpaste.
When it comes to food and wine pairing, the same food interaction applies. Everyone’s taste buds are different so there’s no golden rule to follow for the perfect food and wine pairing. A good pairing is one your palate enjoy most. That being said, there are still six general guidelines to apply in helping you select a pairing that avoids the negative or unpleasant interactions between food and wine.
1. Sweet likes sweeter:
- Sweetness in food increases bitterness, acidity and the burning sensation of your wine.
- Pair with a wine that has the same level of sweetness or more.
- The sweetness in food is less pronounced when paired with an equally or sweeter wine.
- TRY: Summerhill 2013 Riesling Icewine and vanilla ice cream.
2. Unami with fruity wine:
- Unami is the savoury taste that you experience when you taste Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) or a microwaved mushroom.
- Unami in food increases the bitterness, acidity and the burning sensation of your wine.
- Pair with a wine that is more fruity than tannic because unami emphasis the bitterness of tannins.
- TRY: Fresh oysters with Blue Grouse 2013 Pinot Gris.
3. Salt with big tannic reds:
- Salt helps to decrease bitterness and acidity in the wine.
- Pair food high in salt (i.e. blue cheese) with a wine high in tannin (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon) to help soften some of its harder elements.
- TRY: TIME Estate 2012 Meritage Red with flavourful steak.
4. Acid loves acid:
- Acid in food adds freshness, sweetness and fruitiness to the wine.
- The level of acidity in the food should be equal or lower than the wine, otherwise the wine may taste flat, flabby and lacking focus.
- TRY: Serendipity Sauvignon Blanc with grilled tuna.
5. The bitter it gets:
- Bitterness in food increases bitterness in wine.
- Pair bitter food with white wines or low-tannin reds.
- TRY: Monte Creek Ranch Riesling with mixed green salad.
6. Spiciness in food:
- Chilli heat in food increases bitterness, acidity and alcohol burn in wine.
- Pair with white wines or low tanning reds that are low in alcohol, so you do not experience heightened burning sensation.
- Fruitiness and sweetness can also reduce chilli heat in food.
This post is presented by Serendipity Winery in Naramata Bench, BC. Serendipity is about the real magic in life, the moments of unexpected but fortunate discovery. Join us for a Naramata wine adventure and ask us about the story behind every bottle.