There are several schools of thought when it comes to pairing wine with food. The old basic pairing was red wine with red meat and white wine with chicken and fish. While that still holds true for many, today’s foods are more complex than years ago and encompass a wide variety of diverse flavors and ethnic cuisine.
There are those who believe that in pairing food with wine, you should match similarities (for example, the citrus taste of Sauvignon Blanc with Tilapia in a Lemon Herb Sauce or a robust Zinfandel with Pasta Puttanesca) while another philosophy is that you should pair contrasts (a trickier fete, for certain). There are still others who believe that wine selection is highly subjective and you should eat and drink exactly what you like.
To us, the key is finding the balance of flavors, intensity, sweetness, and body between the wine and the food so that your dining experience is the ultimate it should be. Neither the food nor the wine should overpower the other. Consider not only the main ingredient but also the sauce, the cooking method, and characteristic (or “weight”) of the dish you are trying to match to your wine. Don’t pair a heavy-bodied wine with a delicate dish. In making your wine selection, determine the strongest component of the dish you are pairing with it. For example, Chicken with an Orange-Tamarind Glaze would be considered sweet and could be easily paired with a Riesling or Pinot Grigio whereas Chicken with Wild Mushrooms would be considered savory and would be best served with a Pinot Noir or Merlot.
If you are serving several wines over the course of a meal, the general rule of thumb is lighter before full-bodied, dry before sweet, lower alcohol before high. (For example, depending on menu, perhaps start with a Sauvignon Blanc and end with a Port.)
While we are not wine connoisseurs in the strict sense of the word, we hope to help your selection process with these humble observations and our recommendations in subsequent blogs posts for both white and red wines. Let your own palate guide you and…
…Salút! Buon Appetito!