The best food and wine pairing tips
An old Provençale saying goes like this - the best wines are the ones we drink with friends - and it definitely rings true even in modern times when traditional values give way to more materialistic views. Wine, the ancient alcoholic beverage, has always played an important part in human society, sometimes even being regarded as an important icon for many ancient civilizations.
With a unique aroma, which can vary greatly depending on the type of grapes, geographical area and time of harvest, wine has been considered an important cultural and social symbol for millennia. Wine has also been an integral part of social life, having important roles in religious ceremonies and celebrations, casual gatherings, as well as in more somber events, like burials or ritual offerings.
Nonetheless, wine has always been a valued alcoholic beverage and we as a people have developed a very complex system of pairing it with food. The ideal pairings of wine and dishes depend on the type of food, its ingredients, and the type of wine (its color, its taste and various other factors), as well as the occasion. Knowing how to pair each some of the popular types of dishes with wine can be learned, as with most other arts. While you may never be as skilled as famous sommeliers or wine connoisseurs but with these basic tips in mind, and maybe a trip or two to Kasa Restaurant & Raw Bar for a tasting or two and you should be up to speed in no time.
How Does It Work?
Every wine has its unique flavor that is derived from its various chemical components, mainly alcohol, sugar, fruit, tannin and acid. Foods, on the other hand, have as chemical components fat, salt, sugar, acids and various minerals.
To put it simply, the best food and wine pairings combine these chemical compounds and create contrasting or complementary flavors, resulting in a diverse array of textures, aromas and richness levels. For instance, some sommeliers may go for wines that enhance the taste of a certain type of pasta, while others may opt for a more neutral approach. On the other hand, you can pick a wine that may almost conceal the taste of some ingredients.
Fats, Acids, Salts, and Sugars
The basic chemical elements on which the whole concept of food and wine pairings work are: fat, salt, sugar and acid.
• Fat – Almost all of our favorite foods are packed with fat. Dairy and meat products are integral parts in most dishes, and some would even argue that fat is what makes food taste good. Wine, however, doesn't have fat at all, and this is the first thing to keep in mind. The fat from food must be balanced with the acid and the tannin in the wine, to create a more palatable experience.
• Acid – In wines, acid brings life and freshness -- this is why we tend to add flavors like lemon to fish or seafood. When the food is particularly acidic, keep in mind to choose a similarly acidic wine to go with it.
• Salt – Salty dishes can be difficult to pair with some wines, but there is a simple rule to follow -- try to mix a sweet wine with salty dishes, and everything will be great.
• Sugar – Desserts go well with sweet wines, but pay attention on the sweetness of certain wines. A particularly sweet cake may taste bland if the wine is too sweet. Try to go for a slight contrast between the sugar levels.
Duck breast and caramelized apples – Red Burgundy
Rice salad and mushrooms – Cabernet Franc
Lamb with apricots – Mencia
Grilled shrimp stew – Beaujolais
Steak – Sonoma Zinfandel
Slow cooked pork – Cabernet Sauvignon
Vegetable soup – Cotes Provence
Tomato salad – Bandol Rose
Chicken burgers – Chardonnay
Pasta with cockles – Greco
Chicken tostadas – Vouvray
Pesto pasta – Vermentino
Squash soup – White Burgundy
Flaviu Mircea is a freelance writer and professional student who offers articles and insights into current events and student life.
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