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Pairing wine and food

January 27, 2024 Tags: 0 comments
Finding the right wine and food pairing not only is the epitome for any wine and food lover, it takes the dining experience to another level. But before we start talking about pairings, it is important to consider the characteristics of the food and wine individually.

The general criteria for pairing wine and food follows two approaches: matching by agreement or matching by contrast.

As for the food, its characteristics vary from sweetness (deriving from sugars, as in sweets and desserts) or the sweetness and softness found in carbohydrates (bread, pasta), proteins (meat, legumes) and fats in cured meats; sapidity (found in aged cheeses and in many cured meats); spiciness (due to the cooking process or the addition of the spices); acidic tendency (in some greens and vegetables and in sauces); bitter tendency (in vegetables but also in meat, especially game); succulence ( as in rare meats); fatness and greasiness (in cheeses and cured meats).

As per the wine, the most important characteristics are sapidity, freshness or acidity (as in young white wines); sweetness; the alcohol content; tannins in red or aged white wines; the structure and the body of the wine; the greater or lesser softness determined by the alcohol content.

Whilst for the food is relatively easy to identify its characteristics, if we did not have it before we can look at the ingredients, for the wine is a bit more difficult. Unless we have drunk the wine before, we need to discover its characteristics and the best way is to taste it on its own. Once we have identified the characteristics of the wine as well as the food, there are some basic rules we can follow.

Before we look at the rules though, it is worth mentioning that elaborate and structured dish requires a full-bodied wine whilst a simple and delicate dish a light wine and an easy criteria to pair food and wine is to consider the geographical origin of the food and combine it with a local wine.

The first rule says that sweet wines should be served with sweets and desserts. The sweetness tends to overpower all the other characteristics, a dry wine would be overwhelmed or would clash if combined with a sweet or dessert;

The softness, from sweet, fatness and greasiness are compensated and tend to be enhanced by freshness, acidity and effervescence. For this reason, we tend to accompany fish with white wines and leavened desserts, with butter or creams, with sweet sparkling wines;

The sapidity is compensated and enhanced by the softness of the wine, such as very structured white wines or red wines from certain grape varieties or aged for a long time;

The succulence needs to be compensated with a slightly astringent effect, which dries the gums and palate, with wines characterized by marked tannins;

Spicy or aromatic dishes, meat or fish, will need to be accompanied by a fruity and aromatic white wine if slightly spiced, more structured reds if very spicy;

Finally, the structure of the food must be matched to the structure of the wine. An intense and structured food cannot be accompanied by a light and delicate wine, and vice versa.
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