The Perfect Pair

Posted by NR on Friday, February 26th, 2010

Wine & Food
The economy and other factors have turned more and more people towards dining at home or hosting parties. This cold Ohio winter hasn’t made me excited about going out and about either. At-home dinners and dinner parties are getting savvier as the food industry has continued to bring us new cooks, recipes, movies and products right to our TVs, email accounts, and supermarkets.

Our tastes in beverages are also branching out.Wine and beer tastings are more popular than ever and even the smallest groceries are working hard to bring variety to their shelves. While some view this as wonderful, others (like me) are slightly overwhelmed by the presentation of options. If I make it proudly home with a selection, I then become overwhelmed with figuring out the best way to serve my offerings. What is the perfect beverage to accompany the perfect meal? How do you serve the perfect beverage to bring out the flavors as the brewers and sommeliers intended?

Let’s start very basic. First, if there is a particular wine that you love no matter what the meal, by all means drink it! Wine tasting and pairings should be an enjoyable experience and what you end with should be based on your own tastes and preferences so experiment away! The following suggestions are just that: suggestions based on which wines will bring out the best in a given food and vice versa. Test them out for yourself to see what works with your palate. Also, as a general rule, in the same way you start a meal with lighter, more delicate tastes (in appetizers and salads) and work your way towards the hearty/heavier, you do the same with wine – working from light to dark. Reds go nicely with heavier foods and aren’t normally served with appetizers.

The Basics
White Wine
Most common white wines:
Chardonnay: most popular white wine variety, dry white wine in a range of flavors: buttered, oak, fresh fruit

Pinot Grigio: crisp, dry white wines with smooth overtones

Sauvignon Blanc: light- to medium-bodied white wine that is crisp and refreshing with a range of flavors

Riesling: dry to sweet, light to full-bodied, very fresh in taste and versatile in food pairings. Typically apple, peach, pear, and floral undertones

Paired best with: appetizers, soft cheeses, fish, seafood, chicken, pork, and pasta with white sauce

Red Wine
Most common red wines:
Cabernet Sauvignon: big, full bodied and tannic, one of the best varieties in California

Merlot: medium bodied – i.e. less tannins than the Cabernet Sauvignon, berry/plum/currant flavors

Pinot Noir: medium to light bodied with a soft tannic structure

Syrah/Shiraz: typically fruity flavors with a hint of pepper and spices

Zinfandel: wide range, from big and hearty to light and delicate

Paired best with: strong cheeses, red meat, pork, beef, pasta with red sauce, and chocolate

Both wine and cheese are natural products aged to perfection, so maybe that is why they go so well together!! White wine tends to go better with softer cheeses and red wine can go with harder/stronger cheeses, but we can all be the judge of that.

If you are new to exploring wine, I highly recommend visiting wineries for wine tasting, or even hosting or attending a wine party – have each guest bring one or two bottles of their favorite wine for everyone to taste test. You can’t go wrong with good wine, good food, and great company!

Check out these helpful sites:
Food & Wine Pairing
Wine Web Central


Categorized under: Drink  Entertain