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You might know the wine varieties you like, but that doesn’t mean you know how to pair them with delicious meals and snacks. This knowledge isn’t overly important when dining alone or with family. However, it can become important when you’re hosting a dinner party.
The more you know about pairing wine and food, the more enjoyable your meal experience can be. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind before your guests show up:
You might not remember every wine variety and its ideal pairing, but you can keep one rule in mind: the intensity of your food can match the intensity of your wine. This could mean you’d serve a robust and earthy wine like Yarra Valley Pinot Noir if you were preparing a hearty roast or red meat dish. You might also purchase a delicate white wine and serve it with light dishes like a salad or seafood risotto. You likely can’t go wrong with your wine pairing when you remember this rule on your next trip to a cellar door or liquor store.
The food intensity rule doesn’t always work. Some dishes can be a combination of rich and light, meaning that both light or rich wine varieties could be suitable to serve with them. In that case, think about complementary flavors to wow your guests.
You might pair heavy dishes with acidic wines to let the tannins cut through the fattiness. Alternatively, a smooth Chardonnay could work harmoniously with a rich pasta dish. If you’re ever unsure about what to expect from a bottle of wine, you can read the label or ask your local stockist.
While not true of all wine types and dishes, you can match like with like when the occasion calls for it. This is especially true of dishes with strong acidic components. If you were creating a crunchy pickle salad or lemon rice dish, you’d pair it with an acidic wine to keep that acid party going. Interestingly, acidic wines pair well with not only acidic food but also rich and creamy dishes like pasta with cream bases.
It’s easy to assume that you should pair your wine with the standout component of any dish. In most cases, that would be the main source of protein, like steak or chicken. However, the main element isn’t always the most dominant flavor. Sometimes, it can be the sauce or broth it’s in.
Think about the overall flavor of any dish you’re preparing. While you might automatically assume you need a light wine for a chicken dish, a spicy lemon sauce on that chicken might mean you need an acidic wine to carry those flavors through.
Some dishes are notoriously hard to pair wines with. This is especially true regarding Chinese and Indian food with strong spices. These spices can clash with the spices in wines, overwhelming the palate and destroying the wine’s flavor.
When you’re serving a spice-heavy dish, you can rarely go wrong with an off-dry Riesling. This wine variety typically boasts floral and fruity notes, making it a palate refresher for hot and spicy dishes.
Pairing wine with food takes practice, and you may not have the perfect pairing the first time you try. However, by remembering to focus on dominant flavors, being careful with strong spices and acidity, and considering your food’s intensity, you may pick the perfect bottle to enhance your dinner guests’ experience.