For hundreds of years, the right wine has been a fundamental part of fine dining. When the perfect wine is paired with a meal, it will enhance the flavors. If the wrong wine is paired with a meal, it may leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
Not too long ago, the standard rule was to pair red wines with red meat and white wines with white meat. Although this is a great place to start, it is not always the case. When pairing wine and food, there is a certain amount of individual preference. Still, certain types of wine go with certain types of food better. The right wine paired with meat, cheeses, fruits and vegetables strengthens the spices and sauces.
Spices: When serving steaks, a Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon would do the trick. It is important to consider the spices being added to your meal, as this will help determine the best wine to serve. A steak au poivre would be best complemented by a wine abundant in black pepper aromas. A red wine from the Rhone Valley in France would do the trick. For something with a little more spice to it, a Syrah would complement the boldness and spices.
Italian: There are so many types of Italian food that people love. One suggestion is to choose something regional to complement your meal. If you are serving Italian food, a nice Italian wine will do the trick. French cuisine deserves a top of the line French wine. When serving tomato-based Italian pasta dishes, choosing a Zinfandel would give the meal the right flavor. Chianti is also a perfect choice when it comes to serving an Italian pasta dinner.
Grilling: Grilling out is popular in the summer. Burgers, steaks, chicken, vegetables are popular grilling choices. If you are serving grilled chicken, vegetables, or even hamburgers, choose a Pinot noir. If you are in the mood for grilled salmon, that Pinot noir will balance the flavors beautifully. Even barbequing is a good opportunity to pair the perfect wine with your meal. Barbequed steak works well when paired with Cabernet Sauvignon. Barbequed chicken is better suited when served with a dry Ros.
Grilling vegetables is can be another great partner when paired with the right wine. Pinot Grigio has a crisp, dry taste that will mesh with grilled vegetables or salads. Raw vegetables make for a great appetizer. Try serving a Sauvignon Blanc with raw vegetables for a harmonious taste.
Cream sauces: Cooking with cream sauces is a wonderful meal choice. Pairing Chardonnay with sauces will enhance those creamy flavors nicely. Chardonnay can also be paired with a variety of fish options, including shellfish.
A lighter fish would work better with a Sauvignon Blanc. Or you may choose to save the Sauvignon Blanc for a mild cheese or even fruit.
Dessert: A fine Port will complement your dessert perfectly. Pairing Port with fruity desserts or chocolate will combine to beautifully cap off the meal. Cakes and custards make a popular dessert and deserve a Late-Harvest Riesling or Muscat to balance the sweetness.
You are not going to be an expert at pairing the first time you try to pair the right food and wine. Starting with basics, like pairing “like with like” will help you understand the flavors when the right wine pairs perfectly with your food. After you feel comfortable with the basics, you can branch out to find pairs that match your tastes. Maybe you want to be bold and try opposite pairing. This can work or fail, but you will never know until you try. Happy pairing!