Why Does It Taste Soooo Good?
Everyone knows that wine and food are made to be together. Sure, wine is a bit more independent than that. You can drink a great bottle by itself (and you should!) and enjoy it immensely. But there is art in good wine pairing that gives you a feeling of accomplishment, even though you might not have made the food, or the wine. Getting it right is challenging, especially if you’re branching out into a world of wine that you don’t know very much about. What is the perfect food pairing for Gewürztraminer? I actually don’t know, but I have a book for that. But I don’t always have the book. In fact, I rarely do. So, what is the science behind wine and food that can help you spot a pair faster than Noah? Today is a good day to find out.
The All Important Part
Rule number one – it’s meant to be fun. Don’t worry about wine and food pairing too much. It’s only food and wine, and any meal worth having is about the company you share it with. So, if you love Pinot Noir, have that (it’s pretty great with most things) and you’ll be fine.
Rule two, it can all be reduced down to a few simple flavour profiles, so don’t overfill your head. If you want a meal that is the treat you deserve, here is all you need to know…
Salt in food has an impact on acidity. The more salt, the less impact the acidity has, and the less salt, the more acid you’ll find. So what do you do? Well if you’re having a salty meal, you need to ramp up the acidity in the wine. A low acid wine will disappear so go big. Our Isabelino is a great example of a wine for salty foods. Lightening acidity challenges the salt, and lets the other flavours play out. Yum. The opposite also remains true. If you’re going low salt, don’t throw too much acid into the mix, it will often be a bit much, and overpower the food.
Salt also makes the oakiness of a wine perform a little differently, so if you’re adding salt liberally, try something unoaked, like a brilliant Sauvignon Blanc.
If your food choice is on the bitter side (found in vegetarian options quite often) then you need something that is going to spark it into life. This is where acid and tannins can do a lot of heavy lifting. While having either or will do some work, a wine with a good amount of both can be perfect. A Valpolicella is a great option, and if you can’t find that, avoid too much tannin and not enough acid by keeping your wine red, dark and younger.
If your food is acidic (put down the lemon and think of your teeth!) you can only combat it with acidic wine. Nothing takes the edge off acidic food, so you need something that will stand up to it and cancel the two out. Think white more often than not, and Sauvignon Blanc if possible. An Assyrtiko can work wonders, especially with light Mediterranean dishes.
Ok, now we’re having fun. Fat makes food taste better. It adds plenty of richness and flavour, so you need a wine that is going to make the most of it. There’s a great article about the study of fat and wine on a molecular level that tells you more than you’ll need to know. What you do need to know is that fat makes tannins in wine less astringent, so all the flavour comes out. Something dark red and fun, like a S.C. Pannell Cab, or a Keermont Syrah, are amazing.
The other option with fat is to go acidic. Consider fish and chips. All fat, salt and acid. The ultimate option here is champagne. It cuts through the fat and the fizz (believe us) works brilliantly. The acid meets the acid in any lemon, and the salt is challenged too. Plus, when do you not look cool when popping an Andre Clouet while unwrapping your newspapered chips?
This is a bit of a challenge. Sweetness can really take the punch out of a good wine, so you often need to meet it. Sweet wines and ports with sweet food. If it’s the main of the meal, like a sweet and sour chicken, try something with flavour to match, like a off dry Riesling.
It isn’t going to change your world (unless you’re an aspiring sommelier) but matching wine and food can make your at home meal particularly special, and when going to a restaurant is a thing again, it will make you look effortlessly cool when you pick something from the wine list like you know what you’re doing.