Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Five Rules for Matching Wine with Food
Look for compatible weights and bodies. The essence of this rule embodies the age old 'red wine with red meat, white wine with fish and white meat". In its simplest form, make sure the weight and body of the dish is consistent with the weight and body of the wine.
Look for compatible acidity levels. When pairing food with wine make sure that the acidity level in both are about the same. A good example is a dish like lemon chicken paired with a high acid Vernaccia from Italy.
Look for complementary flavors and complexities. Food and wine shouldn't fight one another for your attention. Instead they should help one another achieve synergy, complimenting each other's best traits. NOTE - There is a corollary to this rule that suggests looking for contradictory, but balancing flavors and complexity. If done correctly, the wine and food match will work, but this approach is much more complex and demands that the chef really knows the dish and the wine very well. Approach the corollary with caution.
When matching wine to a food with a pronounced sauce, pair to the flavors in the sauce. When pairing wine with food, make sure you match according to the strongest traits of each. In a fruit glacé-type sauce one would look for a wine with forward and overt fruitiness to pair best.
When matching wine to a food without a pronounced sauce, pair to the flavors in the main ingredient. This is really a re-statement of rule four, except emphasizing that in the absence of a strong sauce, look to the flavor characteristics of the main ingredient instead
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