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The Art of Pairing Food & Wine

The Art of Pairing Food & Wine

With over 45,000 different wines produced worldwide, it can sometimes prove rather difficult complimenting your mouth watering meals.  As much as an art as it is a science, wine pairing is also less about following strict rules as it is catering for your own palate – however, a simple tool is thinking of your wine as a sauce and matching the strength of its flavours to the flavours of each dish.

Chicken
White: Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja, Pinot Grigio
Red:  Pinot Noir, Beaujolais
 
Chicken lends its self perfectly to a dry white wine, a crispy rosé or a sweet red.  The trick to best pairing chicken is to look instead at what is accompanying the white meat.  If the chicken is, for example being served with mushrooms or other woodland vegetables then it can be best matched with Sauvignon Blanc.  Crisp and fresh, the earthy taste of this wine will compliment the chicken and vegetables impeccably.  For those preparing Mediterranean-inspired chicken dishes, look for Greek or Spanish wines like the White Rioja.  Influenced by the same climate as the dish, it will add a burst of intense flavour.  For more fiery dishes, choose fruitier wines such as Pinot Grigio to balance out hot flavours.  Fans of red wine should choose sweeter options such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais that are perfect with BBQ or grilled chicken. 

Fish
 
White: Champagne, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc
Red: Merlot
 
The secret to pairing wine and fish is to consider the variation in weight, consistency and texture of the fish.  If you are eating delicate fish such as scallops, grilled swordfish or cod, it is advised to choose an equally light white wine.  The exotic and light flavours Gewürztraminer from Germany or the sparkles in champagne are a perfect blend.  If you’re trying spicier dishes then opt for palate-cleansing flavours brought by Grüner Veltliner.  Trout and other white fleshed fish should be enjoyed with Chardonnay; the dry wine against the buttery consistency.  Darker fleshed and oily fish such as herring or mackerel need a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, to balance out the flavours.  If you are seeking red, the soft fleshiness of Merlot is the perfect balance and mirrors the consistency of the darker fleshed fish; it also works well with grilled Salmon. 

Red Meat
White: Chenin Blanc
Red: Brunello, Malbec
Rosé: White Zinfandel
 
Matching the colour of the meat, it is always best to stick to darker coloured drinks; with leaner and fattier cuts of beef, choose bolder red wines to match the intensity of the dishes.  The recommended wine for these types of dishes is Brunello.  Made in Tuscany, this rare and fruity wine will match the intensity of the beef and cut through the textures of your food.  With delicate meats such as lamb, use lighter wines like Malbec to compliment the taste.  With its flavours consisting of sour cherry and spice, this Argentinean wine will match your lamb dishes impeccably.  One of the few meats that compliment white or rosé wines is veal.  Delicate in its flavour, the light and sweet tastes of Chenin Blanc or the crisp and fruity taste of the Californian Zinfandel are the best combination. 

Desserts
White: Moscato, Marsanne
Red: Grenache, Australian Shiraz
Rosé: Pink Moscato
 
Fruity, sweet or full of spice, desserts offer a multitude of options for wine pairing.  The tried and tested method is simple: as the colour of your dessert gets darker, so does your wine.  For example, with lighter dishes such as sweet custard tarts, vanilla puddings and cakes, an Italian Moscato, offering both rosé and white varieties, is the most satisfying choice.  To accompany fruit filled tarts, Marsanne bursts with flavour.  Fused with pears and white peaches, this French wine is undoubtedly the missing addition to your dessert.  For all the chocolate lovers looking for that perfect match, the dark, rich or sometimes bitter flavours of chocolate work best with deep red wines.  Grenache or Australian Shiraz, bursting with heady, fruity flavours, will bring out the richer flavours of your chocolate dessert with a single sip.

Cheese Course
White: Savatiano, Marsalla
Red: Italian Chianti, Cab Franc
 
Try to pair your cheese choices with wines from the same region or, in terms of flavours, try to find a unique blend that will supplement a variety of cheeses.  A glass of Italian Chianti will work magnificently with a slice of gorgonzola or the milky mozzarella, whilst the famous feta cheese can be paired with the elegant well balanced citrus flavours of Savatiano.  A special care is needed when pairing flavours; for example, salty cheeses like parmesan and ricotta are best partnered with the sweet syrup like tastes of the Italian wine Marsalla.  With creamy textures of goat’s cheese and brie, head in the opposite flavourful direction and go for wines with more acidic taste to add balance.  Cab Franc is full of spicy aromas and fine tannins that will counteract the stronger flavours of the cheese.  

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