Pairing Wine with Food by Kevin Gray

Pairing wine with food can heighten enjoyment of both the wine and the meal individually as well as enhance the overall experience. While not an exact science, there is a method to pairing wine with food that extends beyond red wine with red meat and white wine with chicken and fish.

The primary goal in matching wine and food is ensuring that one does not overpower the other, and that, instead, they compliment each other. For example, its smart to balance the intensity of flavors by pairing lighter wines with lighter food and fuller-bodied wines with rich, bold-flavored dishes. Not taking flavor intensity into account often leads to the food overwhelming the wine or vice versa.

Acid is one important flavor note to consider when pairing wine with food. Generally, tangy dishes pair well with an acidic wine. For example, a tomato-based sauce goes well with Chianti, while a lemony white sauce pairs well with Pinot Grigio.

Another important consideration is tanninthe element in wine that gives you a dry, puckery feeling of the mouth. High tannin wines pair well with fatty foods like beef, as the dry astringency of the tannins cuts through the fattiness of the meat.

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Spicy Asian dishes were long considered unfriendly partners to wine, but there are some general guidelines to consider when pairing wine with Asian food. Oaky Chardonnays dont typically pair well with Asian dishes, nor do highly tannic wines like Cabernet Sauvignons, as each will fight with the strong Asian flavors, leaving both the food and the wine tasting off flavor. Instead, try acidic white wines like Sauvignon Blancs or fruity reds like Zinfandels or Syrahs.

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These are general guidelines for pairing wine with food, but regardless of any rules or suggestions, the best pairing is made up of good food, good wine and good company. So eat, drink and experiment with your pairings to learn what you personally like best.