While it may seem simple, creating the perfect match of food and wine can actually be quite complicated. Wine can make or break a meal, so it’s important to know how to create pairings that are complementary and pleasing. Following a few simple guidelines, even the inexperienced wine drinker can learn how to incorporate wine into a meal with gratifying results.
Light and Heavy Meals
The first and most obvious rule to choosing the perfect wine is considering whether a meal is light or heavy. This isn’t necessarily defined by the amount of food, but by the type. For instance, meals that are higher in carbohydrates are generally considered to be heavier, while salads and hors d’oeuvres are considered to be lighter. Heavier meals are best paired with darker wines, while daintier meals are best with lighter wines.
Dark and Light Meats
If a meal includes meat, especially as its main course, it may be helpful to choose a wine based on that. Darker meats, such as steak, are best paired with red wines. Lighter meats, such as chicken, are best paired with light wines. This is a simple rule of thumb that can make the process easier, but it does not need to be stringently followed. If you or your guests prefer a certain type of wine, it is still perfectly fine to select from that type. For instance, if a meal includes beef but you prefer white wine, there are many more robust white wines that will still be able to complement the meal.
How the Meat is Prepared
In terms of meats, it may also be important to consider how it is being prepared. For instance, grilled white meats are more often paired with red wine than boiled white meats. It can also be helpful to pair wines more subtly, such as by seasonings or herbs. Choosing a wine by more subtle food qualities does require a certain level of instinct, but can result in a fantastic pairing. Another simple rule to follow is that food from a certain area will be best complemented by a wine from the same region. For instance, Italian foods are best paired with Italian wine, and so forth. Keeping this in mind, it is relatively easy to find a delicious pairing.
Choosing a dessert wine also requires some precision. There are three main types of sweet wines- Muscat, Port, and Sherrie. Muscat is by far the sweetest of the three wines, and it is not advisable to pair it with any type of food. Ports and Sherries can be used in food pairings, so long as a couple guidelines are followed. First, if the sweet wine is being paired with an actual dessert, it is important that the dessert is not sweeter than the wine. Dessert wine will taste sour if paired with something sweeter than itself. Ports and sherries are often shared along with dessert cheeses. Ports taste best alongside highly flavorful cheeses, and with light desserts such as those that contain chocolate or cream flavors. Sherries also work with dessert cheeses, and also pair very well with desserts that contain nuts.
Following these simple guidelines, it can be much easier to create the perfect pairing of food and wine.
Trent is one of the leading food critics in Australia and owner of the finest waterfront restaurant Sydney has to offer. He is well known for his innate ability to perfectly pair wine to food. His work keeps him very busy but in his spare time he likes to spend as much time as possible with his family, watch movies and run marathons.