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Wine Pairing Basics

Nov 21, 2016 10:52AM ● Published by Caitlin Marshall

There’s never a shortage of social gatherings or fine dining opportunities here in Acadiana, especially during the holidays. However, unless you’re a connoisseur, you probably feel unsure about which wine to bring to the company party or a friend’s social, much less what to order when dining at your favorite spot. Pairing wine and food can be a bit . . . complicated. Below are some rules for the road to arrive at a successful, delicious combination.

The Basics

We’ve all heard the axiom: Red wine with meat; white, with fish or poultry. A good rule, generally – but in need of an update, and a twist of nuance. When serving wine with a meal, neither should overpower the other. Because food and wine stimulate your taste buds, and their combined flavors co-mingle and interact, it's important to strike a balance by matching intensity to flavor. If you combine well, you’ll enhance the subtle characteristics of your meal. For example, poached or steamed menu choices are considered delicate fare; therefore the wine should be delicate also.

New Rule: Pair light-bodied wines with lighter fare; full-bodied wines with richer or fattier options.

Dish Preparation

How you prepare a dish also give clues as to pairing. With a meal, wine behaves more like a spice. If serving multiple dishes or your recipe is complex, match the wine to the dominant flavor or spice. Sweeter foods accentuate a drier taste in wines, whereas acidic foods numb the taste buds to sourness, making the wine taste richer.

Opposites Attract

While complementing flavors are often a recipe for success, remember that opposites can also attract. For example, sweet wines married with spicy cuisine cut the heat and cleanse the palate.

TIP: If you reach for your water glass between each taste of food and wine, then the pairing is not working. Cut your losses and drink wine after dinner.

Looking for a starting point? Here are some fabulous combinations:

Red Wine Pairings (Dish – Wine)

Pork Chops - Pinot Noir
Wild Rice Salad - Cabernet
Duck Breast - Red Burgundy
Lamb Shanks - Beaujolais
Portobello and Red Pepper Burgers - Pinot Noir
Grilled Salmon - Pinot Noir
Roast Duckling - Merlot
Rack of Lamb - Cabernet Sauvignon

White Wine Pairings (Dish – Wine)

Avocado, Tomato and Spinach - Sauvignon Blanc
Mussels Provencal - Sauvignon Blanc
Mushroom Soup - Sauvignon Blanc
Cucumber, Squash or Corn Soup - Riesling
Tomato Gazpacho with Avocado and Lobster and White Bordeaux

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Pairings

Smoked Salmon and Caviar - Blanc Champagne
Chicken Liver Pate’ – Rose Champagne

No matter what the rule, don't be afraid to experiment. If you stick to what you like, you'll never be disappointed. Trust your own palate and enjoy! 

Lifestyle, Acadiana Life

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