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To some people, the mere promise of food and wine is enough of a reason to attend a party. To others, the pairing of food and wine is an art, and not one to be taken lightly. If you are planning to host a party, you know that a good host or hostess must please all of his or her guests, and, if your party includes food and wine, you need to cater to both the easy to please as well as the more discriminating. That may mean bucking up on your knowledge of food and wine pairing. If you find yourself tasked with the job of hosting a food and wine get together, here are some tips which may prove useful.
Match and Complement or Contrast
When it comes to putting food and wine together, the goal is either to complement or contrast. Complementing means pairing foods with wines that have similar characteristic while contrasting means you want the tastes to counterbalance the food. For example. sweet wines go well with spicy goods.
Know What Matters
When assessing the likelihood of a certain food pairing well with a certain wine, you should know the wine’s components (acid, fruit, sweetness, alcohol, and tannin) and the components of the food, (meaning the manner of cooking, ingredients, and taste). Delicate food calls for a delicate wine, while richer food will complement a wine with a fuller flavor.
Know How To Taste Food and Wine Together
Take a mouthful of wine and roll it around your mouth before swallowing. Decide what you taste and smell. Try to draw comparisons to fruits and berries, or ask yourself if you detect a woody flavor. Would you consider the wine light or heavy, sweet or acidic? Use your conclusions about the wine to match it with a food with similar characteristics, such as a similar texture or flavor. Chew and swallow a small piece of the food. If you like the way it balances with the wine, its a keeper; if not, move on to another wine.
If you haven’t had enough opportunity to experiment, here are a few safe bets:
- Beef and Lamb
Beef and lamb go best with full-bodied red wines like a Shiraz or a Cabernet/Shiraz blend, Suitable choices include Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.
White wine is best with chicken. Chardonnay is recommended for roast or grilled chicken, while a Shiraz or medium bodied Cabernet Sauvignon is suggested for chicken cooked in rich sauce
White wine is a good selection for fish and seafood. A Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling are all safe choices for a seafood accompaniment.
If your menu includes hard cheese, such as cheddar, go for something full bodied, like a Shiraz. Soft cheese is a good match for dry Riesling, Marsanne, or Viognier, while sweet wine partners well with blue cheese.
- Tomato Based
Tomato based meals, like pizza or spaghetti, tend to be acidic and work well with Barbera, Zinfandel, or Sangiovese.
Sweet wines make good dessert wines, provided the wine is sweeter than the dessert.
Throwing a food and wine party? Let us know what your serving! What are your best pairings!? We love to hear your comments and suggestions!