I did a little revision to this article that I’d previously posted elsewhere. Food and wine – making the match came from one of the most informative wine sessions I attended at a Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington. The presenter at this Food and Wine session was chef Jeffrey Saad. Jeffrey Saad’s session was then followed up by a “hands-on” activity in which we walked around to ten different stations, each set up with a food paired with a matching wine. While I can’t duplicate the latter activity for you, I can give you some great easy tips I learned from chef Jeffrey on pairing food and wine.
Food and Wine – making the match
Acid with acid
Chef Jeffrey mentioned how few people want to serve wine with a salad because of the vinegar in the dressing. But if you serve a wine with good acid, the vinaigrette dressing and the acid in the wine will cancel each other out. He suggested a Grüner Veltliner wine, a very popular wine these days from Austria. A good Sauvignon Blanc will also work. Some chefs like to substitute Verjus for vinegar in a salad dressing. It is a tart grape juice, so it does not clash with wines the way vinegar does. Why do you think Sangiovese is so popular in Italy? That’s because this delicious red wine has acid. If you pair that wine with a tomato sauce that has been simmering for hours, you have a great match. The acid in both will cancel each other out.
Wines with spicy food
Try a slightly sweet Riesling or Gewürztraminer with spicy food. These wines are able to cleanse the palate, and the spiciness in the food will reduce the sweetness of the wine. Avoid red wines with spicy food because the tannins in the wine will intensify.
Animal protein and fat
Ever try a big Cabernet Sauvignon by itself and get your mouth puckering from the tannins? Try a big juicy steak with this wine. The fat in the steak will soften those tannins, and the big red wine will bring out the flavors of the meat.
Cheese and wine
Soft and fatty cheese pairs best with white wines like Riesling or Viognier. Many people try to pair a red wine with cheese, but only aged cheeses pair well with red. Try a taste of white wine and then a red wine with soft cheese, and you will see that the red dulls the flavors in the cheese. Some say the soft cheese coats the tongue and takes away the characteristics of the red wine.
Sweet vs. sweet
Best matches here are to try and get an equal amount of sweetness in both the food and wine, and that will enrich the flavors of both.
Lastly, chef Jeffrey mentioned his three favorite safe wines when it comes to pairing with food. These are a dry Rosé, Champagne and Barbera. A dry Rosé has enough acidity to work with salads and some tannins to work with proteins, except for a big steak. Champagne goes with just about everything. Pick a dry to off-dry sparkler, depending on what you are serving. Finally, the Barbera has good acidity and balance to work with spicy food and also with different foods that are served with sauces.