Pairing Wine With Food: A Quick Guide

Food and wine matching can be a bit of a problem for some when presented with a wall of wine names, and little information to go on. To stay ahead of the curve, remember our quick tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your pre-theatre dinner.

When considering food and wine matching, the key word is always balance. The principle is to ensure that neither the food nor the wine overpowers the other. You are matching the richness of the food with the body of the wine, the flavour intensity of both, the acidity or the sweetness, However you have a lot of options, more than you would ever imagine and even if you’re not a white wine fan or not a red wine fan, you can still find the perfect match.

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The key is the weight and richness of the food; this should be your main consideration, your leading role in this play. For example, if you are tucking into a rich game dish, or roast/red meats, then you’ll want to pair it with a powerful red like an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon or an American Zinfandel, wines north of the 13% alcohol content. However if you’re not a big red fan, you’d be better served pairing the dish with a rich full-bodied white like a Chardonnay rather than a lighter red such as a Pinot Noir or Merlot.

When considering food matching, flavour intensity is your best supporting actor. A delicate light intensity wine like Pinot Grigio would be overpowered by a slow-cooked dish that has been braised or stewed. Delicate wines and strong flavoured food do not match. However if you have an intensely flavoured dish like a Thai curry, why not pair it with a lightweight, intensely flavoured wine like a Riesling.

If your leading man/lady and your supporting actor are singing to the same tune, you’re almost guaranteed a positive production. However if you want to receive the standing ovation, you need to ensure the following aspects are all in line.

Acidity. Sour flavours in food make some wine taste less acidic, less vibrant and less refreshing. Tomatoes, lemons and vinegar are all high acidity foods. It’s important to match the acidity in food with the acidity in wine, something the Italians have perfected. Italian wines are renowned for their acidity and much of the Italian cuisine is dominated by the ingredients above.

One of the main principles of food and wine matching: don’t serve a big red with any oily fish. This is due to the tannin in the red wine combining with the oil in the fish to give you a horrible metallic taste. However if you can find a very low tannin red, like a Pinot Noir, Sangiovese or Gamay, these will partner the more meaty fish verities like monkfish or swordfish.

Finally we move on to the pudding, the final hurdle before you take your seats for curtains up. There is a very simple rule to follow for sweet dishes, the wine you pair with your dish needs to be of equal sweetness or greater sweetness of the pudding you are enjoying. Late-harvest Muscat based wines are the ideal choice for puddings.

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