Most of us are aware of only the basics of wine and food pairing. You know . . . serve red wine with red meat and white wine with fish and seafood. We are also vaguely aware that the wine and the food should somehow complement each other. And that's about as far as our knowledge goes. So let's dig a little deeper and look at a helpful example.
Purpose of Pairing
So why does it really matter?
Can't you just serve any wine you like with your favorite food? Well,
of course, you can – you're free to do anything you want. But if
you want to bring out the best in both the food and wine, have a
tastefully successful dining experience, and maybe impress that
special someone, then you need judicious food and wine pairings.
The sole purpose of a proper
food and wine pairing is simply better taste all around along with a
more pleasurable dining experience. A good pairing, then, does a
double-sided, reciprocal job when it comes to taste and pleasure. The
wine and the food each make the other taste better than it would all
on its own.
Your food and wine should work together in a complementary relationship like a good marriage. Each one should bring out the
best in the other, supply what the other
lacks, and (sometimes) even set up an advantageous antagonism (like,
for example, sweet-and-sour foods and sauces). It's all just a matter
of achieving the best possible taste.
But, sometimes, finding the
perfect pairing can be a pretty elusive gol.
Results of Poor Pairing
So let's take a look a look at
what can happen when you get it wrong . . .
In some wines, it is the
sweetness or acidity that is the primary aspect of taste and flavor.
And when you get the pairing wrong, that primary flavor component can
be either diminished or amplified too much. And then keep in mind
that a wine can take on different flavors according to the foods it
is paired with.
(but less often), the wine can transfer some of its flavor to
the dish or the food to the wine. A bad pairing will result in the
appearance (or at least the perception, which ultimately amounts to
the same thing) of a new, unexpected, and usually undesirable flavor.
And, worst of all, a truly poor pairing allows either the wine or the
food to overpower the delicate flavor of the other.
then, are the two most important tips for getting your food and wine
pairing right . . .
and Food Pairing Tip
First of all, carefully consider the wine. Riesling, for example, is produced in such widely separated corners of the world as the Clare Valley in Australia, British Columbia, and Germany. This delicate wine can have an astounding variation in flavor, ranging from acidic and citrusy to somewhat sweet to fairly dry. It all depends on a wide variety of factors, including the area of origin, the at which the grapes were grown, and the age of the wine. What this means, then, is that this wine, depending on the particular Riesling, can be successfully paired with everything from salads and vegetables to fish to pork to barbecued chicken wings.
a broad spectrum of possible pairings with just one particular wine.
The first , then,
is to know your wine, especially
the sub-species of the wine in question.
and Food Paring Tip
second important consideration is, of course, the food that the wine
is to be paired with. And you can't neglect to take into account the
manner of preparation (say, fried or baked or grilled) and and sauces
and other enhancers as well. These
can dramatically change the flavor of the dish and, consequently, the
best wine to go with it.
example, a poached chicken breast, cooked with just minimal spices
and a light lemon-herb sauce, could easily be paired with a Riesling.
But if you took that same poached chicken breast and added a cream
sauce, you would then have a more forceful taste and would need a
wine with fuller body. And if you roasted the chicken breast, you
would then have to move up to, perhaps, a red wine.
keep in mind that there's a lot more to the flavor of the dish—and
the wine that goes with it—than merely the fish or fowl in it.
for Wine and Food Pairings or as a Stand-Alone
when we think of port, a pretty definite image comes to mind. We tend
to conjure images of portly men with side whiskers reading
newspapers, discussing religion and politics, cracking jokes and
walnuts, and smoking cigars, all the while hiding out from wives at
their gentlemen's club. Maybe that was an accurate description of
port drinkers in the past, but today port enjoys a much broader fan
base, along with a much extended area of production.
when it comes to wine and food pairings, port is now associated with
more than just nuts and tobacco.
Brief History of Port
wine takes its name from the city of Oporto in the Douro River Valley
of Portugal. It came into being in the late 1600s not by design, but
by accident and necessity. In 1678 England declared war on France,
blockaded ports, and made it impossible for Englishmen to get their
beloved Bordeaux, forcing English wine merchants turned to Portugal
for a source of wine. But wine making had not reached the heights in
Portugal that it had in France. So the English had to take a hand in
improve these inferior Portuguese wines, which were darker and more
astringent, and to make them stand up under rough Atlantic voyages,
brandy was added to make them more palatable on delivery. Later, it
was learned that brandy added during the fermentation process would
stop fermentation and stabilize the wine and further enable it
withstand the rigors of travel. And the result was a sweet,
high-alcohol-content, rather thick wine known as port.
are now several types of port: vintage ports, ruby ports, white
ports, and tawny ports. Vintage ports have been held in the bottle
for at least 10 years to ensure maturity. Ruby ports, on the other
hand, are younger wines that still retain their ruby-red color. White
ports possess varying degrees of sweetness, with a floral, fruity
flavor and lower alcohol content. And tawny ports have been aged for
long periods, sometimes up to 100 years, in wooden barrels and so
assume an amber hue and a nutty character.
for appropriate wine and food pairings, port is most often matched up
with sweets, cheeses, and nuts. The sweeter ports, vintage and ruby,
are usually paired with English Stilton cheese, cheese cake,
chocolate, and sweeter fruits like pears and strawberries. Tawny port
often finds itself alongside Roquefort and blue cheese, fresh
peaches, or caramel-based desserts. But a quality, long-aged tawny
port, such as that made by Seppeltsfield, is often best as a
as a Stand-Alone
of the prime production areas for port is now Australia, especially
the Barossa Valley in southern Australia. Here, Seppeltsfield
produces some of the finest ports in the world, and one of its
premier ports right now is the 1910 100-Year-Old Tawny. It is,
according to Seppeltsfield, a "full-bodied tawny style, awesome
in its power and concentration," and "every drop holds the
promise of an exquisite life-enriching experience." And this may
just be more than mere hyperbole.
tawny port produced by Seppeltsfield, having been aged in wooden
barrels for 100 years, is an intense and viscous port. It is
concentrated, owing to evaporation over those 100 years, and has a
burnt-toffee, caramel, nutty character. While appropriate wine and
food pairings can no doubt be found for this port, it is probably
best experienced on its own.
Port Wines Under $20
like most of us, you're on a tight budget and can't afford
100-year-old wines, but still want to enjoy some excellent port,
you're in luck. There are plenty of great ports available for under
$20, both ruby and blended ports. Just check out these great
possibilities . . .
Do Noval Black – This is a top-notch fruity port and possibly
the best port around for under $20. It boasts aromas and flavors of
dark fruit accompanied by a long full-bodied finish, along with hints
of chocolate and spice. Quinta
Do Noval Black is a fortified wine that can serve as either a before-
or after-dinner drink. It is
great served alongside chocolates.
Fine Ruby Port – After three
years of aging in oak, Croft's Fine Ruby Port comes out with a deep
ruby color and possesses flavors that bring to mind plums,
blackberries, and cherries. This port also has certain earthy notes
like smoke, spice, and licorice. All of this makes it particularly
complex and great on it own or paired with appropriate cheeses.
Warrior Port – Having been in
continuous production since the mid-eighteenth century, it is the
world's oldest brand. Warre Warrior a complex, fruity port carrying
notes of chocolate, ripe plum, and nuts. This
is an award-winning fortified port and is renowned for its
Bin No. 27 Port Wine – A top
choice under $20, this wine is particularly fruity with flavors in
the plum and big-berry range. It is blended from several different
vintages and is, as a result, very reliable from year to year.
Fonseca Bin No. 27 serves well as a relaxing after-dinner drink.
Six Grapes Reserve Port –
This excellent port has
earned three gold medals at the prestigious International Wine
Challenge. It is very fruity with notes of cherry and plum, but also
has marked earthy notes of chocolate owing to its five years of aging
in oak barrels. Graham's Six
Grapes Reserve is the
perfect wine to pair with chocolate desserts.
now you just need to know the simple tricks to keep
your weight down and the fat off after indulging in all that
great food and wine.