It's a match!

Some tips on pairing up wine and food

Wine and dine

With the festival season around the corner and wine being the most favoured drink, it’s important to pair it up with the right kind of food. To accentuate the flavours of wines, they have to be poured into the glass in the correct manner and enjoyed at the perfect temperature while being paired with the right food. Getting this right is a task as both food and wine must complement each other, not overpower. Here are some elements to consider while pairing them up...

Fat: Many of our favourite foods, like meat and dairy products, have high levels of fat. Wine doesn’t contain fat. When matching a wine with fatty foods, remember that it has to balance that fat with acid, cut it with tannin, or match its richness with alcohol.

Acid: Acid is a key element in both food and wine. In wine, it adds nerve, freshness, and a lift. When looking for a wine to go with an acidic dish, you should make sure that the perceived acidity of the wine is at least equal to that of the food, or the wine will taste bland.

The acidity and freshness of sparkling wine cuts through the fat in fried foods and reveals the flavours of each key ingredient in a dish. Thus the fine mousse and crispness of Soirée Brut pairs well with shrimp tempuras, samosas, French fries and more.

Texture: As for matching textures, think light and heavy. Light foods are best with light wines, heavy foods with heavy wines. 

Sweetness: One must be careful while pairing wines with food of high sugar content as sweetness in foods tends to increase the perception of bitterness and tannins. Thus, it’s better to opt for a wine of the same sweetness or higher than that of the dish.

Salt: Sparkling wines pair well with salty French fries. The carbonation and yeastiness emulate the freshness of wine and clean the salt from your palate, while adding more textures and flavour nuances.

Light salads and mildly spiced preparations also pair well with a fresh and zesty rosé such as the Art Collection Shiraz Rosé. Rich, barrel-aged white wines made from Viognier, such as La Réserve Blanc comprise mild spice and nuttiness with inherent stone fruit and floral aromas. This combination of fruitiness and spice matches well with varied food preparations such as vegetable risotto, tandoori crab/lobster, Goan fish curry and rich soft cheese such as brie and fresh goat’s cheese. Additionally, there are two methods to follow for food-and-wine pairing — vertical and horizontal. In the horizontal way, it plays with the term similarity — tastes and textures, even colour and aroma; it is a subtle way to pair food along with wine. The vertical is a more radical approach that uses contrast by going completely opposite with the flavour and texture. It can indeed have an impressive outcome.

Incorrect wine pairing

Not getting the right food-and-wine pair can turn out to be a complete disaster. It can ruin the whole dining experience and the taste of the wine.

We often make the mistake of pairing up wine with a particular type of food. A great example of this is chocolate with wine. When you eat chocolate with dry red wine, the wine scrapes the fattiness and sweetness from your palate, leaving harsh tannins and a sour note of wine, leading to a bitter taste. Some also ignore the structure of the wine and food. It’s important to match the fat, acid, sweetness, and texture in the dish with the acid, alcohol, tannins and sweetness of the wine. If you mix a highly spicy dish with a high-alcohol wine, spice will enhance the alcohol and make the wine taste almost burnt.

Perfect pairing is the result of multiple trial and errors. So get on, cling to your glasses until you arrive at your menu of perfect pairings.

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