Saturday, 31 May 2014

Food and Wine – the inside scoop


One of the most common questions wine experts are asked is “what wine should I serve with this food”. The question is always the same, but the answer can be very, very different, and despite there being very exact answers, the person asking the question rarely cares or allows this to influence their buying decision, preferring to side with their favourites or any bargains on offer in their local wine store or supermarket.
There is an old “rule of thumb” which states that red wine should be eaten with red meat and cheeses, and that white wine is best suited for white meat and fish. Realistically though, and like most rules of thumb, this isn’t always the case.
I’ve outlined some basic principles below that you should consider when trying to match wine with food, and given some examples that compliment standard dishes.

Personal taste
Matching food and wine effectively, is entirely subjective and dependent on personal taste as much as anything.  Know in advance what you (or your guests) might like and take this into consideration when deciding on your

Balance & Intensity
The key is balancing the intensity of flavours within your dish, with the flavours inherent in your wine. Consider the different flavours present in your food, what is dominant and what is subtle, and how can you maintain coherence with your wine choice. For instance, your best match for a sweet and spicy curry might be a fruity new world Rose. The ripe and fruity flavours present in the wine will compliment (rather than contrast) the kick of the spicy curry.

The most difficult dishes to match are generally those that include eggs, pickles, vinegar and sometimes chillies. Whilst not impossible to match with wine, these flavours tend to completely overpower most wines, but if you carefully experiment, you should be able to find a few interesting combinations that will allow you to enjoy both the wine and the food.

This depends on how complex the dish is, but for simple fish dishes, you want a delicate white wine. If you’re adding in lots of flavours in the form of sauces and seasoning, then this might mean re-thinking your wine choice.

The meat itself works very well with most wines, but as with the fish, it is dependent on what additional flavours and seasoning you add. The best wine for Chicken and Turkey is probably a Pinot Noir, but also fits well with a white Burgundy or Chardonnay.

Red Meat
As we’ve said before, it is generally accepted that red wine goes with red meat, but in reality, there are many red meat meals that work well with white wines. For lamb, you might try Claret, a Spanish red or fuller bodied Merlot.

Most beef dishes work well with Argentine Malbec or Chilean Merlot, and most pork dishes work well with juicier reds like Beaujolais, and lighter Burgundy. However, pork works best with whites, especially unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.

There are thousands of different cheeses, and no one wine will work the same for each. For soft cheeses though, a good starting point might be to try a French Pinot Noir, or a mildly oaked white such as Macon Villages. Just bear in mind that the stronger the intensity of the cheese, the bolder and more intense the wine will need to be to cope.
Hard cheeses seem to work well with reds. New world Shiraz, Chianti Classico and Rioja work well with cheddar, try and match the intensity of the wine with the raw power of the cheese.

Guest post commissioned by James, who is an amateur wine enthusiast. He loves to spend an evening in front of the fire with a full glass of Malbec.


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