30 Oct The perfect partnership
– A Wine Bluffer guide
Like Ross and Demelza Poldark, pairing up wine with food can make for a more powerful performance as the one plays off against the other.
Some commentators have said that the most important thing is to simply choose what you like to drink, but that can lead to getting stuck in a rut. And intuition only comes with experience which means trying out lots of combinations of food with wine.
If, like the majority of us, you choose what you are going to eat before selecting the wine to go with it, and not vice versa, ask yourself two simple questions:
- Is the food heavy or light, eg a salad versus a casserole?
- What sort of wine do I like?
This gives you a really good foundation when choosing wine according to its body, eg the weight or fullness of the wine in question. It’s something you can learn by drinking or by learning different wine regions eg a Bordeaux – primarily Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot – will be generally full-bodied as opposed to say a wine made with Pinot Noir grapes such as a red Burgundy.
Question 1 can then be extended to thinking about any sauce your food may be served with. So, a prawn cocktail may have a sharp and acidic Marie Rose sauce while meat may be served with a lustrous creamy sauce, or a curry may have a heavy sauce with deep and powerful flavours. In such cases also think about acidity in both the food and the wine.
The attributes of the dish you order demand that you should select a wine that can complement a light dish without overpowering it and likewise punch its weight with a heavy or strongly flavoured dish.
To illustrate this, if you were to cook a simple breast of chicken then a light bodied white such as a Chablis would go well. Add a cream sauce and you would need a heavier-bodied white, perhaps a Meursault. Change the sauce to a tomato-base such as you would have in chicken cacciatore and you could match it with a light-bodied red like a Beaujolais. Makes sense?
I hope that helps a bit? In future posts we will look specifically at matching wine with Asian food and with cheese.