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Key Points To Know About Pairing Food And Wine

At this time of year, many of us will be planning a special festive dinner and perhaps stocking up on a few bottles from an online wine retailer to accompany the food. It’s worth putting some thought into selecting wines that will complement your menu choices. This enhances the flavours of both the wine and the food, making the meal more enjoyable.

Here are some of the most important points to remember for successful food and wine pairings.

Pick flavours that complement or match 

The key to successful food and wine pairing is to determine the dominant flavour or texture of the dish, and then pick a wine that either complements this through a contrasting quality, or enhances it with a similar quality. For example, salty foods can be contrasted with a sweet wine (known as a complementary pairing). 

On the other hand, a sweet wine can be paired with a dessert to enhance the flavour of both. As a rule, the wine should be sweeter than the food. This is sometimes referred to as a congruent pairing. A citrussy white wine such as Pinot Gris will pair well with a delicate-flavoured fish dish with a lemon sauce. 

Consider the acidity levels

Wine with a strong acidic content, such as Riesling, helps to cleanse the palette. Therefore they pair well with rich oily or buttery foods, because the acidity counteracts the richness of the food. Wines from cooler climates tend to be more acidic than those from warmer regions. 

Crisp dry white wines also balance out salty foods such as feta cheese or fried meats. Look for a grape variety with a hint of sweetness to provide a pleasing contrast to the saltiness, such as sauvignon blanc. 

Tannin levels

Red wine contains tannin, which is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in grape skins. This brings a fullness and complexity to the flavour of the wine, and it also has a bitter and astringent flavour. Full-bodied reds such as Shiraz and Malbec have the highest tannin content, while Pinot Noir and Beaujolias have the least. 

Full-bodied reds go well with red meat dishes that have a high fat content, because the tannins balances out the fattiness. Eaten alone, the dish may feel greasy, but an astringent wine can provide the perfect blend of texture and flavour. Reds also tend to go better with bold spicy flavours, because they will not be overpowered as a lighter wine may be.

Lighter wines tend to suit lighter foods

This may seem obvious, but lighter wines such as sparkling wine or whites and rosés with a more delicate flavour go well with lighter foods such as fish, poultry, and salads. Heavier meat dishes and strong flavours go well with bold and full-bodied wines.

Ultimately however, pairing wines with food can be subjective, and unless you have a tough crowd to cater for, trust your instincts and personal preferences if this is what works for you.

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