Wine and food pairing isn’t just for high-end menus – you can do it at home if you know what to look for. Here’s a head start.
Besides coffee with cake, there aren’t too many beverages that are expected to complement food as suitably as a good wine.
We could perhaps fit tequila into this category, as lime and salt are both edible, but it would be drawing a very long bow. Adding to the mystique of wine is its pairing with food, yet it needn’t be a difficult subject.
There are lots of things to take into account when it comes to food and wine matching, but here are some classics that will help you get off on the right foot.
Let’s commence with sparkling wine. Most events begin with something sparkling and there are plenty of starters that we can indulge in with some help from the bubbles. Most sparkling wines have high acidity, and it’s the acid in the wine that makes your mouth water and matches them terrifically with simple foods that are predominantly salty. Oysters are the classic match, but for those who don’t like those little mollusks, have some prosciutto and olives. Both are salty and make the wine taste fuller and fruitier. The Botter Prosecco DOC will be an ideal partner with your Italian-style starter and you’ll see for yourself how basic wine pairing can be.
With salads and white meat dishes you are still looking for wine with high acidity. In fact, in most cases, the acid of the wine is crucial to being a good partner with food. Many salads are dressed with vinaigrette, and it is the vinegar in the dressing that you need to fit to the wine. Riesling is a terrific partner for bright, fresh food as it mirrors the style of the wine, and young Riesling is aromatic and utterly refreshing. To take your salad to the next level of intensity, make a Vietnamese coleslaw with poached chicken and serve with Expressions by Tom Barry Riesling.
For richer dishes, you need a fuller bodied or more powerful wine. It is too hard to match the exact flavours with every wine that you want to drink so look at pairing weight rather than searching for a recipe with cherries in it to perfectly match your tipple of choice. Roasted food is simple and delicious – you place it in the oven and basically just wait. In the time that your food cooks you can choose some wine and get the house sorted for when your guests arrive. The roasted elements of the food are a nice complement to the barrel flavours from wine fermented in wood. This means that you needn’t strictly follow the guidelines of white meat/white wine, red meat/red wine.
If we look at roast pork we can work two wines into this pairing. Both have a similar weight, that being Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Apart from the colour, Pinot Noir is often not too dissimilar to Chardonnay, offering fresh acidity and barrel notes without being jammy or too heavy. While there are more obvious fruit flavours in Pinot Noir than Chardonnay these two options will allow you to show two wines side by side at dinner and make everyone think you’re the ultimate host. Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Chardonnay is from a benchmark producer and will easily hold up to roast pork. The Wild Run Pinot Noir will offer more intense fruit expression, but the wines tannins will soften as your eat the pork, and the acid of the wine will hold up to the fattiness of the pork without question.
There are very few instances where a wine has only one food match that tastes delicious, so look at the style of wine you are drinking rather than just reading the tasting notes. Experimentation is not just the key to finding new pairings, but also half the fun.