Wine pairing used to scare me. I just knew what I liked, but I didn’t know why or how to pair food with wine. Now I know more, and with the selections readily available today, pairing food with wine is fun. Eventually I’ll write a post on hosting a wine pairing party where you offer a specific wine with each course of the meal. It’s so much fun!
As I now know, pairing is protecting the food and wine from each other. If you serve red meat with a light white you’ll be wasting a good wine because the meat will steal the flavor from the wine, and you won’t taste the full flavor, the wine may even taste like water. Typically, a white wine can’t stand up to the flavor of meat, but with today’s choices, there are full-bodied Chardonnays that will stand the test.
Classically, you wouldn’t serve red wine with fish or seafood because the tannin reacts with the iodine in seafood and gives the meal a metallic taste. Though today there are softer reds, like Pinot Noir, Barbera Rioja, and other Italian wines with a fruitier flavor and softer tannins, so your meal tastes as delicious as the wine.
Let’s look at light and full bodied wines:
Light – Chablis, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
Medium – Champagne, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Blanc, Dry Riesling, Vouvray
Full – Chablis Grand Cru, Chardonnay (California and Australia in particular), Pinot Gris, Rhone, Viognier
Light – Barbera, Beaujolais, Burgundy, Chianti, Cotes du Rhone, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Rose
Medium – Barbera, Bordeaux, Brunello, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Sangiovese, Shiraz, Syrah
Full – Brunello, Burgundy Grand Cru, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cote-rotie, Hermitage, Argentinian Malbec, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel
Your lighter reds will go well with fish and seafood, just as your fuller whites will pair well with red meat. This is just a guide, not the rules set in stone. In the end, it’s what you enjoy drinking and eating.
In today’s environment, where UPS can bring wines from around the world directly to your front door via online retailers and wine of the month clubs, you have the opportunity to open your palate to new flavors. And price of a great wine is now more affordable than ever. It’s not unheard of to get a delicious bottle for under $15.
Wine Wednesday will be all about introducing you to new wines, and some you may have already tried. I learned about Carmenere from a blog, and it’s become my favorite wine. I’m hoping I’ll be able to open up a new world of wines to you with this segment. I’ll try to find the perfect wine for Thai curry, or your Christmas turkey, so keep checking back on Wednesdays for new wines and pairings.
If you’ve tried a new wine lately, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.