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So, your wall wine racks are full with a great selection of bottles, but you are unsure of how food and wine pairing works with your dishes. For example, what winter choices bring out the flavors of winter comfort food like a casserole?
Wine and food pairing takes some practice. After all, each tastes different, even when they are the same grape from the same region. You don’t need to be a sommelier to know how to pair with your food, though.
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Rules for Great Wine & Food Pairings Your Guests Will Love
Here are 15 rules for wine food pairing that covers the basics for you. This way you don’t have to think about all the ways to use any leftover because with the right wine matching there won’t be a drop left.
Let’s start with a few basic food and wine pairing rules. These rules will help you to understand the specific pairings we recommend later on in the post of how to pair wine with food.
General Pairing Rules
1. Build Up to More Full-Bodied Option
If you are serving several courses, then build-up to the more full-bodied choices of red wine pairings. Start with a light, dry option and then let the intensity increase with each course.
2. Start with Something Sparkling
Traditionally, hors d’oeuvres are served with a sparkling choice, like Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco. This is because they are easy to drink and are not overpowering on the palate. Also, sparkling options are a good pairing for when there is a wide variety of flavors being served, like mixed platters.
3. End on a Sweet Note
Dessert option usually has quite a concentrated flavor. This is so that it does not fade away against sweet or creamy desserts. Also, you need the sweet option to follow up on the full-bodied served with the main course without overpowering the dessert flavors.
4. Stay Within the Region Whenever Possible
This is a traditional trick but one that works. In many cases, a dish from specific regions pairs well with a bottle from the same region. For specific regional pairings read this sommelier’s recommendations as a wine pairing guide.
5. Sometimes the Sauce Is More Important than the Protein
The choice should pair with the dominant flavors in the dish. In certain dishes like lasagne or beef stroganoff, the sauce is the more powerful flavor so find the variety that complements that sauce, not the beef.
6. White with Fish and Red with Meat Is Not Set in Stone
This goes back to rule no.5. If the protein is not the dominant flavor then that is not the focus for the pairing. For example, a fish dish with a lot of tomatoes and olives pairs better with a light red rather than a bold white.
7. Pairings Are a Balancing Act
The general rule on how to pair wine with food; pair one that is the opposite to the dish. For example, a creamy dish with a dry full of tannins and a spicy dish with a smooth fruity option.
Now that you know the general wine matching rules, we will look at what specific types go with certain foods. Below we have listed 8 choices that match specific foods that your dining guests will love.
Since you’ve already learned the great wine pairings rules you will understand our favorite wine and food pairings as mentioned below.
1. Cava & Smoked Salmon
Cava is the more sweet version of the sparkling selection. This slight sweetness and tang balances the fatty and salty flavor of smoked salmon.
2. Riesling & Curry
Riesling is fruity and slightly sweet which calms down the intense spicy flavors of curry.
3. Sicilian Chardonnay & Creamy Pasta
Yes, there is an Italian Chardonnay and its slight acidity creates the perfect balance for creamy pasta dishes like carbonara.
4. Cabernet Sauvignon & Steak
Nothing brings out the juiciness of steak like Cabernet Sauvignon.
5. Zinfandel & Minced Meat Dishes
Zinfandel is fruity but still earthy without being overpowering. A perfect match for meatloaf, burgers and shepherd’s pie.
6. Gruner Veltliner & Salads
This Austrian choice has notes of citrus and spices like nutmeg. This light but rich variety brings out the flavor profile of any salad and salad dressing.
7. Syrah & Moroccan Dishes
A bold Syrah does not fade away against the rich spices and earthy flavors of falafel and tajines.
8. Moscato & Dessert
This is a traditional but winning pairing. Look for a Moscato with citrus notes to balance the sweetness of the dessert.
Of course, there are many more types of wine and endless flavor profiles in dishes. The only true way to discover the perfect wine and food pairing is by building your collection and trying each of them out with different home-cooked meals.