Food and Wine Secrets
Food and Wine
A rather dated view, but still the de facto rule of thumb is that white wine should be matched with white meat and red white with red meat. This view however is reflective of the wine styles of several decades ago.
When white wines were nearly always lighter, fruity and crisp and red wines, equally nearly always heavy and tannic. The tannins in the reds helped tenderise the meats and the whites where considered light enough to compliment, not over power the more subtle and gentle flavours of the chicken and fish dishes. The white wines also often delivered a range of flavours and notes which were and still are highly acceptable in their drinking experience, not least the citrus and tart nature of many whites which are natural bed fellows of fish and chicken dishes.
The second rule of thumb is the service sequence of tastes and styles. In the main, one should start with the driest of the wines to be served and end with the most fruity and sweet.
Today however none of the above really matters. The most important thing is that wines are matched on a style for style basis. A barbequed spicy chicken served with ratatouille and potato-bake will work beautifully with South African Shiraz or the lighter Rioja, take out the barbeque and keep the spices and your wine selection could change to a crisp Viognier or a Gewürztraminer or even an off dry German Riesling.
Today a more complete way to match your dish with the most appropriate wines is to match styles and taste sensation dominances:
- Match fatty or oily foods such as oily fish, Palma Ham, heavier cream cheeses, pâté and some lamb dishes with crisp (high acidity) dry wines.
- Match heavier red meat dishes, particularly those meats that would normally be regarded as tough with the more tannic red wines such as a younger Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Bordeaux or a Barbaresco or Barolo from Piedmont.
- Sweet foods go well with sweet wines but it is important that the wine is as sweet or sweeter than the food or the wine will taste tart and acidic.
- Ensure that the wine equals the 'weight' and richness of the food.
- Salty foods are given a lift by adding sweetness to the wine selection. Well-known examples are Sauternes (Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend from the Bordeaux Region) and Roquefort Cheese (or a sauce made from stronger, bigger Roqueforts); Stilton and Ports are a must around Christmas time.
When choosing the dish to go with your wine, consider the origin of the wines as an important guide. If you are planning to serve and wonderful Rioja Reserva investigate the foods typical of the Rioja region. Examples in this case are Tapas. Beef Bourguignon is a sure thing with a good Burgandian Pinot Noir or big Osso Buco will work fabulously with a beautifully balanced Chianti or Sangevesse.
In many cases you will find the matching easiest if you match regional foods with their wines, this is particularly true for continental wines and dishes.
When making a sauce or a saucy meal such as a casserole, select your wine and when cooking the dish or sauce, fine tune that taste by sipping a little of the wine when the sauce is ready for tasting and the short comings of the sauce, if any, will jump out at you. You can these 'fix' or make subtle changes to the dish until you get that perfect match.