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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Kitchen Information Reference Forum / Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairings
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    Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairings

    Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:29 pm Groupie
    Food and Wine Pairings
    Food and wine go together because of the complements and contrasts they offer to each other. Food tastes better with wine because wine offers another set of aromas, flavors, and textures that act as a foil to the aromas, flavors, and textures of the food being eaten. Think of the first bite you take of a slice of rare roast prime rib of beef. With that first bite you smell the rich aromas, taste the full flavor of the meat, and experience the full range of tactile sensations in your mouth. While the second bite is good, it can't be as good as the first because your nose and mouth are already used to the sensations the roast beef provides. The senses of taste and smell are easily fatigued. The way to refresh them is to offer an alternative set of aromas, flavors, and sensations. A drink of wine does just that. This is the most basic way in which food and wine go together.
    Many people are content to say that if the food and wine are both good, then the match is good. They are right but only in that the match is good; it isn't excellent, outstanding, sublime, or heavenly. These levels of enjoyment and appreciation only can be reached when the wine does more than act as a contrast to the food. In the best matches, the wine compliments the food at the same time as it offers a contrast.

    Some foods work so well with certain wines that the match becomes a classic. Classic food and wine combinations include:

    Champagne and Caviar

    Chablis (or Muscadet) and Oysters

    Sauternes and Roquefort Cheese

    Red Burgundy and Roast Beef

    Red Bordeaux and Lamb

    Port and Stilton Cheese

    The keys to making the best matches are an open mind, a willingness to experiment, and an understanding of why certain foods taste best with certain wines. This understanding is partly intuitive but the confidence necessary to be brave in matching flavors comes from experience.
    The following pages offer some general guidelines to matching food and wine. While these guides have exceptions that come readily to mind, they offer a good starting point

    Q. We're having _(fill in the blank)___ for dinner tonight. Which wine should I serve with it?

    A. In any of its many forms, this may be the question our wine department hears most often. And it's among the hardest to answer correctly every time because there are so many variables. How much do you want to spend? Is that chicken grilled, pan-fried, roasted, smoked, or cooked in a casserole. Is there a sauce? What are the side dishes? Is this a simple meal or an occasion? All these factors bear consideration. At the extreme risk of over-simplification, I'll make a couple of specific recommendations here.

    Pinot Noir makes as versatile a match to any food you conceivably could serve with red wine as any other grape on the planet. It works well with everything from grilled salmon to roast beef and is especially good with favorites such as takeout rotisserie chicken and those $30.00-a-piece doves and quail we Texans sometimes shoot. While Pinot Noir isn't my fist choice with Pizza, it even works with that most robust-red-friendly dish. And Pinot Noir can handle smoky, spicy, and salty flavors that give most other red wines fits. Remember two things: 1) Red Burgundy is Pinot Noir. and 2) Pinot Noir is at its best between 55 and 60°. Three very versatile Pinot Noirs I can heartily recommend are Fountain Grove Pinot Noir 1998 ($7.60 a bottle), Alexander Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 1998 ($12.85), and Remoissenet Beaune-Greves 1996 ($28.60).

    For the safest bet on white wines to go with a broad range of foods, look to Sauvignon Blanc. With its crisp, refreshing fruit and range of flavors, Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with everything from shellfish or pasta with clam sauce to cold fried chicken or Chinese takeout. Sauvignon Blanc may come disguised as Bordeaux Blanc (Graves, Entre deux Mers), Sancerre, or Pouilly Fume from France, or as Fume Blanc from the US. Some sure things include Ch. Bonnet Blanc 1998 (Entre deux Mers, $7.44), Rossignole Sancerre 1998 (Loire Valley, $16.56), and Iron Horse T-bar-T Fume Blanc 1998 (Sonoma, $15.48 ).

    As all these selections offer at least a good match to a wide variety of dishes, theyıre good choices when you're looking for a few bottles to keep around the house.


    What they are:
    The best Chardonnay from Burgundy, California, and Australia
    Top quality white Bordeaux and California Sauvignon Blanc blends
    Alsace Vendage Tardive and German "trocken" and "halb-trocken" Spatlesen and Auslesen.
    Food Matches:
    Work with pork, rich seafood, some fowl, and Fois Gras.
    Can work quite well with some red meats.
    Do not work with spicy foods.

    What they are:
    Some lower-priced Chardonnay from Burgundy, California, and Australia.
    Standard quality Sauvignon Blanc-based whites from around the world.
    Most drier style Rieslings and Gewurztraminers from around the world.
    Most dry white from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the Loire Valley.
    Food Matches:
    Work best with light seafood and some fowl and pork.
    Can work with lightly spicy foods and some tomato based sauces.
    Do not work with most red meat or overly rich or very spicy food.

    What they are:
    Most German QbA, Kabinett, and some Spatlesen and their US equivalents
    Vouvray, Most Chenin Blanc from around the world.
    Moscato d'Asti
    Food Matches:
    Works best with shellfish, pork, and light to medium spicy foods.
    Can work with some red meat, fowl and game, and most seafood.


    What they are:
    Beaujolais, California Gamay-types
    Most Barbera, Valpolicella, Bardolino, old style Chianti
    Pinot Noir, lighter style red Burgundy
    Food Matches:
    Works best with salty foods, beef, poultry, duck, tomato and garlic based sauces and dishes.
    Can work with grilled beef, lamb, smoked foods, seafood if prepared to remove oils, and lightly spicy foods.

    What they are:
    most Bordeaux, most Californian and Australian Cabernets and Merlots
    Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, top Vino da Tavola
    most Piedmont reds (Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, and Nebbiolo)
    Chateauneuf du Pape, most Cote du Rhones
    most Spanish Red
    robust Burgundy
    "Claret" style red Zinfandel Food matches:
    Works best with lamb, beef, pork, game, most fowl, bread or pastry enclosures, pizza.
    Can work with seafood if prepared to remove oils, tomato based sauces, some mildly spicy foods, and chocolate.
    Do not work with very spicy or salty foods or pork.

    What they are:
    Full-bodied Napa Cabernet, some young Bordeaux
    Cote Rotie, Hermitage, big Chateauneuf du Pape, most Australian Shiraz, some Cabernet Shiraz, California Rhone-types, Charbono
    some Barolo and Barabaresco
    Northern Sonoma-style red Zinfandel
    Food Matches:
    Works best with simple, grilled or roasted meat and game, and pizza.
    Can work with tomato based sauces, some mildly spicy foods, and chocolate.
    Do no work with very spicy or salty foods, pork or seafood.

    Cabernet and Syrah have an affinity for black pepper and rosemary.
    Sangiovese, Barbera, Grenache, and Gamay all have an affinity for tomatoes and garlic.
    Sweet fruit sauces for game and fowl present very difficult challenges to wine.
    Most powerful reds do not handle complex sauces very well.
    A full flavored cheese can bring out the fruit in a tired, older red wine.


    What they go with:
    Use the same general rules as for "light to medium-bodied, dry white."

    What they are:
    White Zinfandel, White Cabernet, Blush
    Rose de Anjou
    What they go with:
    Use the same general rules as for "semi-dry and lightly sweet whites."
    Nachos and other Mexican dishes

    What they are:
    Bandol Rose, Tavel Rose, other southern French Roses
    Marsannay Rose (Pinot Noir)
    California "Rhone-type" Roses
    What they go with:
    Use the same general rules as for "light, fruity red wines."

    What they are:
    Sauternes, Late-harvest Sauvignon or Semillon from the US or Australia
    German Trockenbeerenauslese and Beerenauslese, Late-harvest Riesling or Gewurztraminer
    Muscat Beaumes de Venise or Picolit
    What they go with:
    Work great with Foie Gras.
    Work with semi-sweet desserts, full-flavored, salty cheeses, and fresh fruit.
    Do not work with very sweet desserts.

    Mama's Kitchen (Hope)
    Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:31 pm Groupie
    Great info for a Tasting party too!
    Cheri B
    Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:09 pm Groupie
    Well I was going to create a cookbook, titled, foods, cheese with what wines. But I guess I will take this off the list of to do's, when I join. icon_biggrin.gif
    Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:23 am Groupie
    Cheri J wrote:
    Well I was going to create a cookbook, titled, foods, cheese with what wines. But I guess I will take this off the list of to do's, when I join. icon_biggrin.gif

    Hi Cheri! Excited to hear you will be joining as a premium member, you will enjoy all Zaar has to offer! You can still make a cookbook with your favorite recipes and in the private note area jot down what wine you would serve or make a menu for a dinner and add your favorite wines.
    Chef #1453171
    Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:10 am
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    Matching food and wine is something of an art. However, even the novice can follow a few guidelines that will definitely improve their ability to appropriately pair a wine with a meal. Pardon That Vine You’ll have all clear in your head after you browse the site. I'm really impressed. I think you should try this. Hope it will help you.
    Sue Lau
    Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:01 am Groupie
    My advice is to go to a wine tasting where small appetizers are also served and you can get an idea of how certain types if wine go with certain types of food.
    Generally your palate will dictate which type of wine you want.
    Also, ask the person in the wine shop for recommendations. There are also cards taped near wine bottles that give some info on what types of notes the wine has.
    Over time, you will be confident enough to start keeping wines at home, which is good when you get a discount on buying a dozen bottles or so.
    Wine shopping is a lot of fun! Get out there and look around!
    Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:50 am Groupie
    as I've only just started posting on this particular section (although I've been around the site since it started and on its previous site for years) I shouldn't really open up with this...but.... icon_smile.gif

    I have a real beef about wine/beer choice for foods.. !

    I don't care if someone in the Michelin guide says this fruity little white wine from the 1986 vintage perfectly matches the soft cooked cod steaks with butter sauce... I'm not a big fan of white wine (expect for cooking chicken in) so it would ruin both parts of the meal.. the food and the drink...

    If you like white and red wine then you might want to try a red with that venison or white with the steamed chicken parcels... but if you like drinking a strong ale.. why change ?

    **puts soap box away**


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