Thursday, January 21, 2010

PRINCIPLES OF MATCHING FOOD & WINE

2nd Principle: The Five Basic Taste Sensations
Sweetness: Related to amount of residual sugar in both foods and wines; sensed by taste buds located towards at the tip of the tongue
Sour/tartness: Degree of acidity in both foods and wines (more so in whites than in reds); tasted at the center and sides of the tongue
Saltiness: Not a significant component in wine, but important in how a wine relates to it in foods; tasted somewhere in the center of the tongue
Bitterness: Tasted in many foods, and in the tannin content of red wines (to a lesser degree in whites); tasted towards the rear of the tongue
Umami: The flattering, amino acid related sense of "deliciousness" found in many foods, and to a limited extent in wines (location of "umami taste buds" on palate indeterminate)

3rd Principle: Key Tactile Sensations
Density, body or weight: The sense of light vs. heavy contributed by proteins, fats and/or carbs in foods, and primarily related to degree of alcohol content in wines (bolstered by tannin in reds)
Soft/crisp textures: Tactile contrasts in foods; and in wines, smooth or easy vs. hard, sharp or angular
Spicy/hot: Feel of heat when chiles, peppers or horseradishes are used in foods; not felt as a tactile sensation in wines, but suggested in aromas and flavors ("spice" notes)

4th Principle: Flavor Is Aroma Related
Without the sense of smell, neither foods nor wines have "flavor." Example: the taste and tactile sensations in an apple, a pineapple, and an onion are similar in that they are all sweet, crisp yet juicy, with some degree of acidity, but they all give a distinctly different flavor perceived through the sense of smell.
By the same token, both Cabernet Sauvignon and a Petite Sirah are two types of red wine that tend to be dark, full bodied, dry, and fairly hard in tannin; but the Cabernet gives aromas and flavors of herbal, minty, berry/cassis aromas and flavors, whereas the Petite Sirah gives ripe berry/blueberry and black peppercorn-like aromas and flavors.

5th Principle: The Two Ways Foods and Wines Are Successfully Matched
Similarities
When there are similar taste sensations in both a dish and a wine (example: the buttery sauce in a fish dish enhanced by the creamy or buttery texture of an oak barrel fermented white wine)
Contrasts
When sensations in a wine contrast with sensations in a dish to positive effect (example: the sweetness of a white wine balancing the saltiness of a dish like ham or cured sausage, and vice-versa)

6th Principle: Intrinsically Balanced Foods & Wines Make the Best Matches
No matter what your personal taste, invariably you discover this natural occurrence: the easiest foods and the easiest wines to find a match for are the ones with their own intrinsic sense of harmony and balance. This is because taste buds and sensations of tactile qualities work for you collectively.
 

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