Pairings You Should Know

Several months ago, I wrote an article on guidelines for wine and food pairing and recently, one of my favorite readers (Joe, aka husband 😉 ) requested an article on specific pairings.

The “Classic” list below is pairings that most wine industry people agree on and is wine 101 knowledge. The “Mainstream” list is pairings many consider “no fails.” If you are beginning your journey in wine the lists will, at the very least, give you a jumping off point. I encourage you to branch out from the wines stated as many producers from around the globe are spinning similar takes on traditional wines.  When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to pair food and wine from the same region.

CLASSIC PAIRINGS:

  1. Oysters & Chablis ~ Chablis: unoaked Chardonnay from the Chablis region, France (Champagne is also a great option with oysters)
  2. Foie Gras & Sauternes ~ Sauternes: made using Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes affected by Boytritis (Noble Rot) from the Graves region in Bordeaux, France
  3. Caviar & Champagne ~ Champagne: sparkling wine made using primarily Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes that have been produced following a strict set of rules (to include secondary fermentation) in the Champagne region, France
  4. Goat Cheese & Sancerre ~ Sancerre: Sauvignon Blanc from the eastern part of the Loire Valley, France
  5. Stilton Cheese & Port ~ Port: fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley, Portugal
  6. Steak & Big Reds ~ Big Reds: a mouthful of tannic deliciousness ex. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, red Bordeaux

 

MAINSTREAM PAIRINGS:

  1. Mushrooms & Red Burgundy ~ Red Burgundy: Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region, France often having mushroom notes
  2. BBQ (Pork or Beef) & California Zinfandel ~ Zinfandel: a full-bodied red wine from California known for it’s spicy character (Italian Primitivo is the same varietal)
  3. Lobster with drawn butter & oaked California Chardonnay ~ oaked CA Chardonnay: white wine of Chardonnay grapes that have spent time aging in oak barrels, often new French oak
  4. Osso Bucco & Barolo or Barbaresco ~ Barolo / Barbaresco: Nebbiolo wine from the Piedmont region, Italy; Barolo is heavier and is a region about 10km from Barbaresco, where the Nebbiolo grape is a bit more elegant
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Pairing Wine And Food

pairingwineandfood

A friend requested I write about pairing wine and food. I was somewhat hesitant because I felt the post would either become a dissertation or be so short it would barely clear a paragraph.

There are many avenues to take for pairing, from mandatory adherence to a strict set of rules to “Vinotyping” and taste bud count affecting how a person tastes (i.e. Why You Like The Wines You Like by Tim Hanni, MW).  I lean more towards the the later.  In my opinion, there is only one thing you need to know: drink what you like, like what you drink.  Choose a wine you enjoy and desire to drink with whatever it is you’re eating.  Conceding to pairing the alleged “appropriate” wine with food will not make the pairing better if it’s not speaking to you in the first place. It will however, make for an unpleasant dining experience.

Taste is personal but I believe there are parameters we generally share. Most people establish some level of tolerance for acidity and most people like sweet food. There are even a small percentage of people who cultivate a liking to bitterness. Accordingly, consider the following basic guidelines; use them as a starting off point then follow your own personal palate preferences:

BASIC WINE AND FOOD PAIRING GUIDELINES:

Intensity: match intensity of wine and food (i.e. light wine-light food, heavy food-heavy wine)

Spicy food: pair spicy food with high acid, off dry, medium-sweet wine – try brut Rosé, Albarino, Riesling, or fight fire with fire and pair with a high alcohol spicy wine like Syrah or Zinfandel

Fatty food: pair fatty food with a high acid wine like an Vinho Verde, unoaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, or a tannic red like Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon or Tempranillo

Salty food: pair salty food with a high acid wine or wine with a bit of sweetness – try something sparkling like Champagne, a crisp Falanghina or a tawny port (think pretzels dipped in caramel)

Sweet food: pair sweet food with wine that has a high level of sweetness or fruitiness – try a late harvest wine, Ice wine, Moscato d’Asti, which has a slight effervescence, or for something fruity try a newer vintage Shiraz or Petite Sirah, these will probably be best for those dark chocolate pairings.

My ultimate advice is to acknowledge and embrace your individual tasting preferences. If you want Chardonnay with your steak and your friend prefers Cabernet Sauvignon…congratulations, you have both nailed your pairing!

~Drink what you like, like what you drink!~

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