Mak­ing the per­fect match

I’m al­ways asked about the match­ing of wines to cer­tain foods. It’s sim­ply a mat­ter of per­sonal taste.


THERE are no rules, but just re­mem­ber it is eas­i­est to think of wine as a sauce and match the strength of flavours and weight of the dish with the wine.

My be­lief in wine and food match­ing is wines that have length of pal­let (taste that lasts in your mouth) are a lot eas­ier to pair with food.

Bal­ance is one key to match­ing. The weight or body, or rich­ness — of both the food and the wine.

The wine and the dish should be equal part­ners, with nei­ther tak­ing over the other. If you bal­ance the two by weight, the chances in­crease that the pair­ing will suc­ceed. This is the se­cret be­hind many wine-and-food matches.

There’s a fair amount of gut feel­ing or in­stinct to this. Big, hearty food needs a hearty wine. For ex­am­ple, caber­net sauvi­gnon goes well with grilled lamb chops be­cause the sweet­ness of the caber­net cuts through the fat­ti­ness of the lamb. For white wine, a good ries­ling will pair well with poached fish be­cause they are equals in del­i­cacy. Some of my ba­sic guide­lines are to pair sub­tle wines with sub­tle dishes oth­er­wise they tend to com­pete in your mouth. My best ex­pe­ri­ence is pour­ing pinot gri­gio in an oys­ter shell and then con­sume. They just match so well.

Here is a guide I use when match­ing: Chardon­nay: Sole, floun­der, salmon, shell­fish, poul­try, mild cheeses.

Chenin Blanc: Creamy sauce dishes, floun­der, sole, shell­fish, spicy foods, poul­try, mild cheeses.

Gewürz­traminer: Creamy sauce dishes, sole, floun­der, spicy foods, poul­try, creamy desserts.

Mus­cat: Mild cheeses, creamy desserts. Pinot Gri­gio: Sole, floun­der, salmon, shell­fish, pork, veal, poul­try, mild cheeses. Ries­ling: Creamy sauce dishes, sole, floun­der, shell­fish, spicy foods, pork, poul­try, creamy Desserts, Mild Cheeses.

Sauvi­gnon Blanc: Creamy sauce dishes, sole, floun­der, shell­fish, poul­try, mild cheeses. Viog­nier: Sole, floun­der, salmon, poul­try, mild cheeses.

Beau­jo­lais: Salmon, pork, beef, veal, poul­try. Caber­net Sauvi­gnon: Game, lamb, duck, cho­co­late desserts, strong hard cheeses. Chi­anti/San­giovese: Tomato sauce dishes, game, lamb, duck, strong hard cheeses. Mal­bec: Tomato sauce dishes, game, lamb, duck, strong hard cheeses.

Mer­lot: Game, lamb, duck, strong hard cheeses.

Pinot Noir: Salmon, game, pork, lamb, veal, duck, poul­try, strong hard cheeses. Shi­raz/Syrah: Game, lamb duck, beef, strong hard cheeses.

Tem­pranillo: Tomato sauce dishes, game, beef, lamb, duck, strong hard cheeses.

In the end, the right choice de­pends on per­sonal taste, the mood of the day, and of course try to ex­per­i­ment with matches be­cause it’s all about the food and wine.

Life’s too short not to ex­per­i­ment with so many won­der­ful tastes avail­able to en­joy today.

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