Wine can be an intimidating topic for most of us. When you add food pairing to the equation, it could get complicated. It doesn’t have to be. Although there are many technical details to consider and many beliefs about what goes with what, the best way to find your perfect pairing is to try them yourself. Let’s not make too much of a fuss, alright?
Pairings are all about balance
You might be familiar with a few food and wine pairing tricks. For example, it is often said that wine should be higher in acid than the food it is paired with. Think foie gras and high acid and off dry whites! Lamb and Syrah! The wine should match the grandiose of the dish. A light-bodied Syrah like our Cuvee Violette won’t stand a chance next to a 36-hours braised short rib, while the Cuvee Classique or Equinoxe will totally be up for the task. It’s all about the balance!
However, you also need to determine what you really like about a given wine, because there are thousands of various options out there. Everyone has a unique taste (which by the way changes with time. Remember not liking eggplants or tomato as a kid and now cant et enough of them?) – so how can we narrow down pairing rules to suit that? The human palate can generally distinguish five basic tastes: bitter, sour, sweet, salty and umami. Out of these five, the three flavours that are commonly perceived in a wine are bitter, sour and sweet.
Keeping that in mind, also consider the intensity of the dish. Then, ensure the wine of choice is at the same or higher level of intensity. You may not want to eat or serve an overly intense dish and pour a glass of wine that falls flat. When you take your first bite of food, you register the flavours, aromas and complexity of the dish. From there, the rest of the bites are neutral. The wine that you pour with this dish should help change that. It should keep the excitement of the first bite of your dish throughout your gastronomic journey until the last bite. Yummm!
Contrary to Popular Belief…
The wine should complement the flavours of the food. It should make you want to go back to the food. Every bite of food should want you to take a sip of the wine. This back and forth is what food and wine pairing is really all about in a nutshell.
I am not a strong believer in the statement: “serve red wine with red meats and white wines with light meats”. Similarly, “chocolate and Champagne is a match made in heaven” makes no sense to me either. Chocolate served with chilled wine that cools your mouth? This combination unnecessarily chills the natural cocoa fat of the chocolate. It leaves you with this pasty, unpleasant mouthfeel – no thanks.
Pairing in Reality
If you love food and wine, stop overcomplicating it. Enjoy what you like – not because someone told you so. Personally, I have paired Pinot Noir with some deliciously fresh pan-seared scallops in a double-smoked bacon broth. Believe it or not, it worked like it was meant to be.
While there are hundreds of tips and tricks out there, it all comes down to lots of practice and trial & error (the fun part!). You’ll surely think of a pairing that would make complete sense in your head but in reality, it will be a terrible combination.. and that’s OK! That’s why we do it. I have tried some ambitious pairings. Some worked and some were complete failures.
After all, there is only one rule you need to remember: ‘drink what you like and eat what you like’. Sometimes try a wine that you might not be too familiar with or a grape variety that you might have not even heard of. What you find might surprisingly please you.
Written by Vish Mayekar (@vish_vaishnav)
Edited by Nicole Lee