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SPECS Liquors: Food and Wine Pairings

Food and Wine Pairings

Food and wine go together because of the complements and contrasts they offer to each other. Food tastes better with wine because wine offers another set of aromas, flavors, and textures that act as a foil to the aromas, flavors, and textures of the food being eaten. Think of the first bite you take of a slice of rare roast prime rib of beef. With that first bite you smell the rich aromas, taste the full flavor of the meat, and experience the full range of tactile sensations in your mouth. While the second bite is good, it can't be as good as the first because your nose and mouth are already used to the sensations the roast beef provides. The senses of taste and smell are easily fatigued. The way to refresh them is to offer an alternative set of aromas, flavors, and sensations. A drink of wine does just that. This is the most basic way in which food and wine go together.

Many people are content to say that if the food and wine are both good, then the match is good. They are right but only in that the match is good; it isn't excellent, outstanding, sublime, or heavenly. These levels of enjoyment and appreciation only can be reached when the wine does more than act as a contrast to the food. In the best matches, the wine compliments the food at the same time as it offers a contrast.

Some foods work so well with certain wines that the match becomes a classic. Classic food and wine combinations include:

  • Champagne and Caviar
  • Chablis (or Muscadet) and Oysters
  • Sauternes and Roquefort Cheese
  • Red Burgundy and Roast Beef
  • Red Bordeaux and Lamb
    Port and Stilton Cheese
The keys to making the best matches are an open mind, a willingness to experiment, and an understanding of why certain foods taste best with certain wines. This understanding is partly intuitive but the confidence necessary to be brave in matching flavors comes from experience.

The following pages offer some general guidelines to matching food and wine. While these guides have exceptions that come readily to mind, they offer a good starting point

STYLES OF DRY WHITE WINES AND HOW THEY GO WITH FOOD

    OAKY, MEDIUM TO FULL-BODIED WHITES.
      What they are:
      • The best Chardonnay from Burgundy, California, and Australia
      • Top quality white Bordeaux and California Sauvignon Blanc blends
      • Alsace Vendage Tardive and German "trocken" and "halb-trocken" Spatlesen and Auslesen.
      Food Matches:
      • Work with pork, rich seafood, some fowl, and Fois Gras.
      • Can work quite well with some red meats.
      • Do not work with spicy foods.
    LIGHT TO MEDIUM-BODIED, UNOAKED OR LIGHTLY-OAKED DRY WHITES.
      What they are:
      • Some lower-priced Chardonnay from Burgundy, California, and Australia.
      • Standard quality Sauvignon Blanc-based whites from around the world.
      • Most drier style Rieslings and Gewurztraminers from around the world.
      • Most dry white from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the Loire Valley.
      Food Matches:
      • Work best with light seafood and some fowl and pork.
      • Can work with lightly spicy foods and some tomato based sauces.
      • Do not work with most red meat or overly rich or very spicy food.
    SEMI-DRY AND LIGHTLY SWEET WHITES.
      What they are:
      • Most German QbA, Kabinett, and some Spatlesen and their US equivalents
      • Vouvray, Most Chenin Blanc from around the world.
      • Moscato d'Asti
      Food Matches:
      • Works best with shellfish, pork, and light to medium spicy foods.
      • Can work with some red meat, fowl and game, and most seafood.
STYLES OF RED WINES AND HOW THEY GO WITH FOOD.
    LIGHT, FRUITY RED WINES
      What they are:
      • Beaujolais, California Gamay-types
      • Most Barbera, Valpolicella, Bardolino, old style Chianti
      • Pinot Noir, lighter style red Burgundy
      Food Matches:
      • Works best with salty foods, beef, poultry, duck, tomato and garlic based sauces and dishes.
      • Can work with grilled beef, lamb, smoked foods, seafood if prepared to remove oils, and lightly spicy foods.
    MEDIUM TO FULL BODIED, ELEGANT RED WINES
      What they are:
      • most Bordeaux, most Californian and Australian Cabernets and Merlots
      • Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, top Vino da Tavola
      • most Piedmont reds (Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, and Nebbiolo)
      • Chateauneuf du Pape, most Cote du Rhones
      • most Spanish Red
      • robust Burgundy
      • "Claret" style red Zinfandel Food matches:
      • Works best with lamb, beef, pork, game, most fowl, bread or pastry enclosures, pizza.
      • Can work with seafood if prepared to remove oils, tomato based sauces, some mildly spicy foods, and chocolate.
      • Do not work with very spicy or salty foods or pork.
    FULL BODIED, ROBUST RED WINES
      What they are:
      • Full-bodied Napa Cabernet, some young Bordeaux
      • Cote Rotie, Hermitage, big Chateauneuf du Pape, most Australian Shiraz, some Cabernet Shiraz, California Rhone-types, Charbono
      • some Barolo and Barabaresco
      • Northern Sonoma-style red Zinfandel
      Food Matches:
      • Works best with simple, grilled or roasted meat and game, and pizza.
      • Can work with tomato based sauces, some mildly spicy foods, and chocolate.
      • Do no work with very spicy or salty foods, pork or seafood.
    SOME RED WINE PAIRING HINTS:
    • Cabernet and Syrah have an affinity for black pepper and rosemary.
    • Sangiovese, Barbera, Grenache, and Gamay all have an affinity for tomatoes and garlic.
    • Sweet fruit sauces for game and fowl present very difficult challenges to wine.
    • Most powerful reds do not handle complex sauces very well.
    • A full flavored cheese can bring out the fruit in a tired, older red wine.
OTHER TYPES OF WINES AND HOW THEY GO WITH FOOD
    CHAMPAGNE AND SPARKLING WINES (EXTRA DRY, BRUT, OR NATURAL)
      What they go with:
      • Use the same general rules as for "light to medium-bodied, dry white."
    BLUSH WINES AND LIGHT, FRUITY ROSES
      What they are:
      • White Zinfandel, White Cabernet, Blush
      • Rose de Anjou
      What they go with:
      • Use the same general rules as for "semi-dry and lightly sweet whites."
      • Nachos and other Mexican dishes
    FULLER BODIED, DRY ROSES
      What they are:
      • Bandol Rose, Tavel Rose, other southern French Roses
      • Marsannay Rose (Pinot Noir)
      • California "Rhone-type" Roses
      What they go with:
      • Use the same general rules as for "light, fruity red wines."
    VERY SWEET WHITE WINES
      What they are:
      • Sauternes, Late-harvest Sauvignon or Semillon from the US or Australia
      • German Trockenbeerenauslese and Beerenauslese, Late-harvest Riesling or Gewurztraminer
      • Muscat Beaumes de Venise or Picolit
      What they go with:
      • Work great with Foie Gras.
      • Work with semi-sweet desserts, full-flavored, salty cheeses, and fresh fruit.
      • Do not work with very sweet desserts.

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Page generated on: Mon Dec 22 12:28:13 CST 2014