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A guide to wines and foods that go with them
Sun Jul 31, 2005 3:46 pmFood.com Groupie
One of the most frequently asked questions about wines is what should be served with different foods or in different occasions. I hope the following will be a good guide for you but if your question still isn't answered, please ask away!
It's a collection of knowledge that I've accumulated from wine courses that I started about 6 months ago and am continuing along with information taken from books and the internet. Please shout if you have something to add.
BASIC "RULES OF THUMB"
When trying to select a wine think about:
Wines often reflect the food of a region so think about where the dishes you're serving traditionally come from and get a wine from that region. Lambrusco, a light sparkling red, is great for cutting the richness of Bolognese food. The Loire region of France starts with an edge on the sea and so Muscadet from the west of the Loire works well with fish.
The next "match" you need to make is one of character. A sweet desert should, generally, be served with a sweet wine like an ice wine or perhaps a medium-sweet Riesling or Kabinett. Red wine can be very high in tannins or "chewy" as described in The World Atlas of Wine by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson -- something that works well with "chewy" food like a steak. The "white wine with fish rule" makes sense if you think white wines tend to be acidic and fish is often served with things like tartar sauce or a squeeze of lemon over the top.
Don't be afraid to experiment. You may find a light red wine goes very well with fish like a hearty tuna steak and a white wine with lots of body could offset a roast. At the end of the day, what is "right" is what tastes good to you.
WINE IDEAS FOR SPECIFIC FOODS
Artichokes -- Can make wines taste metallic. They can also have a sweet aftertaste so choose a wine that balances that. Something high in acid such as a fresh, young, dry white.
Asparagus -- Try a dry white with lots of flavour like a sauvignon.
Avocado -- Riesling or white port
Beef -- Nearly any full bodied red will do. For a full-on meat fest like a steak with maybe just a baked potato you will want something with a lot of tannin to help balance the meat, something like an Italian Barolo. If beef is a smaller part of the overall meal, say a roast with lots of veg, salad, etc you might want to go with something slightly less full-on like a cabernet, merlot or pinot.
Bouillabaisse -- A young white or even a dry rose. Soave is excellent with fish as well.
Cheese -- Port goes well with an elegant read or a ruby port. Cream cheese is better with full-bodied whites like semillon or chardonnay.
Chillies try New World Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Shiraz, Beaujolais,
Chinese -- A dry white, perhaps a German riesling or an Alsatian gewurztraminer. This works for curries and Thai food too and many of the Asian dishes.
Citrus fruits try Gros Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc; for sweet citrus desserts try late harvest Riesling and Semillons
Chocolate for lighter chocolate desserts try Muscat, or richer chocolate try Maury or tawny port
Duck -- A fruity young red, perhaps a shiraz or a pinot.
Eggs A tough one! Try cheaper white Burgundy, Alsace Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio
Ginger try Torrentes, Gewurztraminer
Salad -- First make sure not to serve with a strong vinagrette as that will affect the taste of the wine. A fresh white with a salad nicoise, a chardonnay with a seafood salad.
Smoked foods German or Alsace Rieslings; for meat try Pinot Noir or Zinfandel
Tomato try Dolcetto, Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc
Yoghurt try Italian dry whites, Retsina
Last edited by Sackville on Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:22 pm, edited 2 times in total
Mon Aug 01, 2005 10:45 pmForum Host
Wow I envy you the classes must be fun!
I just saw this on line
Pairing Wines With Food
© by Sheral Schowe
The most frequently asked question I get when consulting with restaurants is "Which wines will make my food taste the best?"
While it is true that wine enhances food, and vice versa, not every wine will bring accolades to the chef if it is poorly matched with the menu item. Certain wines will make a plate of food seem like a masterpiece. Others will create a disaster on the taste buds, which will result in complaints to the kitchen - or even worse, complaints about the entire dining experience.
When I select a wine from a restaurant list, I search the menu for a dish that will bring out the individual flavors and character of the wine. The last thing I want the food to do is to mask the delicate nuances that the wine portrays. Sure, thats what all the wine geeks do. But what if you want to select your menu item first, before you look at the wine list?
Consider the wine as a condiment. For instance, if you order veal or chicken picatta, a light fish in a white wine sauce, or chilled shellfish, you will want a white wine that is slightly herbaceous, with a tart acid balance. The best condiment for such foods would obviously be fresh lemon juice. A sauvignon blanc comes the closest to fitting this flavor profile.
If the dish has a light butter sauce, consider white bordeaux, which is a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon. The semillon rounds out the tartness a bit and adds some interesting flavor as well. I recommend three, each with their own personality and style. Merryvale Vignette 1997 ($21.40) from Napa Valley, Carmenet Sauvignon Blanc Semillon ($17.85) from Sonoma, and Chateau Rieussec R 1996 ($17.40) from Bordeaux.
A common mistake that is made with matching the right wine to a spectacular dish is to simply order the first wine that comes to mind, using the myth that any white wine goes with fish and chicken.
Always consider the preparation first. If you choose a buttery, rich, oaky chardonnay from Napa Valley to pair with your oysters on the half shell, it will be a waste of both the wine and food. Who wants butter on raw oysters or chilled shrimp? What seafood would you want the butter on? If you are considering lobster, you have made a perfect match with chardonnay.
Next time you order seafood or poultry in a rich, creamy sauce, try ZD Chardonnay 1998 ($26.75) from Napa Valley, or if the sauce is a little lighter, or for lobster or monkfish, a Verget Macon Tete Cuvee 1998 ($15.30) from Burgundy. Both are beautiful wines without malolactic fermentation or an overabundance of oak.
Mon Aug 01, 2005 10:49 pmForum Host
Food and Wine Pairing
Food and wine pairing is a highly subjective and inexact process. The old rules primarily red wine with red meat and white wine with fish and poultry don't take into consideration the complexity of todays multi-ethnic and subtly flavored foods and the corresponding wide range of wines from around the world that are now conveniently available to almost everyone.
These days you're more likely to hear food and wine pairing suggestions than hard and fast rules. There's considerable room for experimentation and expression of your own personality in pairing food and wine.
Vineyard tours and wine tastings are a great way to try different wines and learn which you favor. Then begin with the foods and wines you like. Pick a good wine and pair it with a meal you enjoy and you probably won't go wrong.
Next consider some rules-of-thumb remembering that rules were made to be broken. Going contrary to a rule-of-thumb to achieve a particular effect, or even just because you have found the results pleasing, can sometimes be the mark of a true artist. But, first you have to develop a familiarity with convention and an understanding of why the suggested combination usually works.
When pairing food and wine, the goal is synergy and balance. The wine shouldn't overpower the food, nor should the food overpower the wine.
Think of wine as if it were a condiment it should compliment the food.
Wine drunk by itself tastes different than wine with food, because wine acts on food similar to the way a spice does. Acids, tannins and sugars in the wine interact with the food to provide different taste sensations.
Wine can enhance the flavor of food. A good match will bring out the nuances and enhance the flavors and unique characteristics of both the food and the wine.
Memorable food and wine pairing is achieved when you find similarities and/or contrasts of flavor, body (texture), intensity, and taste.
Above all don't stress over the perfect food and wine pairing. The best pairing is good food, good wine and good company. Friends and loved ones are the most important ingredients.
Lets begin with some of those suggested rules-of-thumb to use as guidelines, and then follow that with a discussion of why certain flavors are found in, or are more dominant in certain wines.Ten rules-of-thumb for food and wine pairing
If you are taking wine as a gift to a dinner party, don't worry about matching the wine to the food unless you have been requested to do so and have enough information about what is being served to make an informed choice. Just bring a good wine. Match quality of food and wine. A grand dinner party with multiple courses of elaborately prepared dishes deserves a better wine than hamburgers on the grill with chips in a bag.
When you're serving more than one wine at a meal, it's customary to serve lighter wines before full-bodied ones. Dry wines should be served before sweet wines unless a sweet flavored dish is served early in the meal. In that case match the sweet dish with a similarly sweet wine. Lower alcohol wines should be served before higher alcohol wines.
Balance flavor intensity. Pair light-bodied wines with lighter food and fuller-bodied wines with heartier, more flavorful, richer and fattier dishes.
Consider how the food is prepared. Delicately flavored foods poached or steamed pair best with delicate wines. It's easier to pair wines with more flavorfully prepared food braised, grilled, roasted or sautιed. Pair the wine with the sauce, seasoning or dominant flavor of the dish.
Match flavors. An earthy Pinot Noir goes well with mushroom soup and the grapefruit/citrus taste of Sauvignon Blancs goes with fish for the same reasons that lemon does.
Balance sweetness. But, beware of pairing a wine with food that is sweeter than the wine, although I do like chocolate with Cabernet Sauvignon. I also like chocolate with good dark beer. Come to think of it, I like chocolate with just about anything.
Consider pairing opposites. Very hot or spicy foods some Thai dishes, or hot curries for example often work best with sweet desert wines. Opposing flavors can play off each other, creating new flavor sensations and cleansing the palate.
Match by geographic location. Regional foods and wines, having developed together over time, often have a natural affinity for each other.
Pair wine and cheese. In some European countries the best wine is reserved for the cheese course. Red wines go well with mild to sharp cheese. Pungent and intensely flavored cheese is better with a sweeter wine. Goat Cheeses pair well with dry white wine, while milder cheeses pair best with fruiter red wine. Soft cheese like Camembert and Brie, if not over ripe, pair well with just about any red wine including Cabernet, Zinfandel and Red Burgundy.
Adjust food flavor to better pair with the wine. Sweetness in a dish will increase the awareness of bitterness and astringency in wine, making it appear drier, stronger and less fruity. High amounts of acidity in food will decrease awareness of sourness in wine and making it taste richer and mellower sweet wine will taste sweeter.
Bitter flavors in food increase the perception of bitter, tannic elements in wine. Sourness and salt in food suppress bitter taste in wine. Salt in food can tone down the bitterness and astringency of wine and may make sweet wines taste sweeter. Flavors found in wine
The basic flavors that occur in food are also found in wine which is, after all, another type of food. They are sweet, tart (sour, acidic), bitter (puckery, astringent sensation) and salty (which isnt found in wine, but affects its flavor). In addition wine has alcohol which adds aromas and body, making the wine feel richer.
The sugar that is present in grapes is converted during fermentation to differing degrees. A wine with very little sweetness is called "dry." Sweet white wines are Chenin Blanc, many Rieslings and Spumante. Sweet red wines include Lambrusco and Port.
If a dish is acidic citrus or vinegar then an acidic wine would be appropriate, although a lightly acidic dish can be balanced with a lightly sweet wine. Acidic white wines are Sauvignon Blanc and most sparkling wines. Acidity in wine cuts saltiness, so sparkling wines generally pair with salty foods better than less tart wines such as most red wines.
Tannins from the skins and sometimes stems of grapes and the oak barrels used for aging cause the bitter or astringent aftertaste in some red wines. Tannins mellow with age and are one of the components that add complexity to a mature wine. Foods with a prominent salty, sour or bitter taste will make a wine seem sweeter and less tannic. Bitter red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel and Syrah.
Alcohol gives wine a sense of body and weight, the higher the alcohol, the more full-bodied the wine. Rich meat, fish or chicken dishes that include cream are well suited to full-bodied wines (1315 percent alcohol) whereas light, simply prepared and flavored dishes pair better with low alcohol wines (710 percent).
Wed Aug 03, 2005 11:32 amFood.com Groupie
Boy, what a great start to an interesting subject. Congratulations on galloping right out of the starting gate... cheers!
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