Choosing the right wine is a great way to complement any meal. Whether you’re planning a formal dinner party to celebrate a special occasion or just selecting the best wine to pair with lunch, selecting the right wine is essential. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of fine wines to be able to pick the best wines. Simply follow a few rules for choosing the right wine pairing.
Your senses are an excellent tool for selecting the right wine for your meal. The aroma of the wine will likely guide your preferences, as a strong, full-bodied wine will overpower a light-tasting food, such as fish. In addition, the wine you select has the potential to bring out the flavor in certain foods. A sweet wine will make a cheesecake taste sweeter, for example. Pair a dry wine with a sweet food to enjoy the flavors and aromas in both the food and the wine.
White vs. Red
The age old question when selecting wines always leads to a debate over red versus white. Red wine has a full, heavy, rich flavor, and is best paired with heavier dishes such as beef or pork. Lighter fare such as salmon, stir fry, turkey and vegetarian dishes are usually paired with white wines such as Rieslings, Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc. Popular reds include Sangria, Bordeaux and Cabernet. While selecting either a red or a white wine is not an exact science, the general rule of thumb is that the color of the food should match the color of the wine. Dark, red wine for darker colored dishes and white wine for lighter colored foods.
It is also customary to match the wine with the food preparation technique. Foods that are prepared in a delicate manner—poached, grilled or sauteed— are generally best matched with delicate wines that won’t overpower them. Food that is fried, roasted or flame-broiled are best served with a richer, heavier wine.
Serving Multiple Wines
If you are going to serve more than one wine during a meal, there are general rules that govern this. It is generally recommended that you serve light wines before full-bodied wines. Pair a white Riesling with a salad course, followed by a Cabernet to accompany your main course of steak. Serve a dry wine before a sweet, leaving the sweeter wine to complement your dessert course. And finally, choose a wine with a lower alcohol content first before moving on to the heavier wines later.
There are, however, some exceptions. For a dessert course, a port wine works well with chocolate, even though it may be heavier than the wine served during the main course. Try to match wine with the intensity of the food’s flavor, but be careful not to overpower the palate. Heavily spiced foods such as Thai or curries are best served with a lighter wine that provides a less intense dining experience.
When pairing your wine with your dish, keep in mind the alcohol content. Low content wines that contain between 8% and 12% alcohol are best complements to simply prepared dishes such as grilled chicken breast and pasta with white sauce. Higher alcohol content wines which contain between 14% and 18% alcohol are best paired with fuller, heavier dishes such as steak, or those that contain heavy cream.
There is no gift that is more classy than a bottle of wine chosen from your cellar or selected from your favorite wine shop. Send a bottle of wine for an anniversary, birthday, milestone or graduation. A well-aged bottle of Bordeaux is an excellent wine gift that will be appreciated by wine novices and connoisseurs alike. Select a bottle that is local to your region for a truly special gift. Even if you don’t live in Napa, regional wineries often offer their own brand of wine that cannot be found elsewhere. Choose a decorate wine bag to create an elegant gift.
Pairing the right wine with the right dish is one part science, two parts art. Follow your nose when selecting the right wine while keeping in mind a few helpful tips. Experiment with different wine pairings and find the one that suits you best. When choosing a wine, let your senses be your guide.
About the Author:
Brandon Gray works part time for a wine delivery company and has a personal affection for wines and food. What appears to be missing in wine writing is the personal attachment to wine in one’s writing. For the soul, the desire to not just drink a glass of it but maybe drown the whole bottle because it tastes so good to the meal one made for himself / herself. Isn’t that what wine should really be about? The desire to taste something that gives you an instant feeling of being taken either to Tuscany enjoying the fabulous grapes and cherry notes while eating classical Spaghetti, or to French Riviera wearing your big shades while sitting in a restaurant at the boardwalk being all tied up with yourself and the glass of Bordeaux Chateau de Selle and Chateau de Saint-Martin in Taradeau.