Mystery of wine and meat pairing well found

Last Updated 09 October 2012, 16:21 IST

Ever wondered why wine goes well with a fatty meal - the secret lies in how food and drink feels in the mouth, researchers suggest.

Researchers say there is a reason why people the world over pair sharp, acrid tastes with fatty flavours.

They say that just as hot and cold are at two ends of the temperature spectrum, astringent and fatty foods are opposites when it comes to texture.

This means the wine counters the feel of the meat in the mouth – making it the perfect accompaniment.

“The mouth is a magnificently sensitive somatosensory organ (sensing stimuli from the skin and internal organs) arguably the most sensitive in the body” said Paul Breslin of Rutgers University and the Monell Chemical Senses Centre.

“The way foods make our mouths feel has a great deal to do with what foods we choose to eat” said Breslin in a statement.

It might explain the appeal of salad dressings with their characteristic acids and oils for example. Think also of the pink folds of ginger on the sides of sushi plates or the soda with our burgers and fries.

Researchers knew that astringent wines feel rough and dry in our mouths.
Fats on the other hand are slippery. There was the notion that the two might oppose each other but it wasn’t quite clear how that might really work.

Researchers show that weakly astringent brews - in this case containing grape seed extract a green tea ingredient and aluminum sulfate - build in perceived astringency with repeated sipping.

When paired with dried meat those astringent beverages indeed counter the slippery sensation that goes with fattiness.

This natural tendency for seeking balance in our mouths might have benefits for maintaining a diversity of foods in our diet. “The opposition between fatty and astringent sensations allows us to eat fatty foods more easily if we also ingest astringents with them” Breslin said. Breslin adds fresh seeds and nuts could have a certain sort of appeal.

(Published 09 October 2012, 16:21 IST)

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