The sommelier’s toolkit
When partnering wine with food, the two most important elements are tannin and acidity. It’s their relationship with the basic components and tastes of food that unlocks great matches. Tannins are a fact of life for red wine drinkers, but with skin contact becoming more popular in whites, tannin is increasingly relevant across all food and wine pairings.
To diffuse tannin in wine you need fat and protein in food.
Soft, fine tannin requires less, while big, rich tannins need more. Think prosciutto with pinot noir, and rib-eye with cabernet. Equally, acidity is a white wine drinker’s constant companion and it reacts with similar intensity to a select group of building blocks in food. The big one is fat. Think of acid as a windshield wiper on your tongue. It cleans out your tastebuds when they become clogged with fats and refreshes your mouth. Acidity in wine can be softened with salt, and also works well with foods naturally high in acid, like that squeeze of lemon you add to your seafood.