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.