When it comes to food and wine, most people are brought up with the rule stating “red goes with red, white goes with white”, which means red wine goes with red meat while white wine goes with fish and poultry. Then came the “postmodern” maxim which says that ‘if you like the taste, the match is perfect’.
Despite the presence of these simplistic guides, many people still don’t know how to match food and wine well. The truth is, many really don’t know what tastes good and what doesn’t. Fortunately, the art of food and wine matching follows a simple logic that is quite easy to follow.
The bottom-line with food and wine matching is that the food should have an equal fighting chance with the wine and vice versa. Simply put, one shouldn’t dominate the other. When you bite into food, its tastes and pleasures should be enjoyed. When it is the wine’s turn to be sipped, it should evoke an equally pleasurable sensation. Now, when it is time to bite into the food again, it should be the star of that moment. And finally, when it’s time for the wine to draw, it should rise up to prominence once more.
In short, the food should be able to replace the flavors of the wine with every bite, and conversely, the wine should be able to replace the taste of the food with every sip. When the combination isn’t good, one will overpower the other.
To achieve this, you have to take in consideration the dominant tastes found in both the food and wine. Sweet food, such as dessert, goes with sweet wine. Food with hints of bitterness, such as charbroiled meat, would go better with a bitter wine. Acidic foods or those foods that go great with a dash of lemon or vinegar, go with acidic wines.
Here is a short overview of wine flavors:
Acidic wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, White Bordeaux for whites and Pinot Noir, Red Burgundy, Sangiovese, and Gamay for reds. Acidic white wines usually go well with seafood because of their delicate flavor. Acidic red wines go well with tomato based dishes and grilled seafood.
Wines with bitterness include Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Bordeaux, Red Zinfandel, and Merlot. These usually go well with steaks and roasts.
Sweet wines include Vovray, Asti Spumante, Chenin Blanc, or most German wines for whites and Lambrusco, Port, Sherry and Vermouth for reds. These usually go well with dessert or by themselves.
Matching wine with food is not that complicated with this simple guide. Happy matchmaking!