How To: Choose Food and Wine Pairings

January 9, 2013
Los Angeles International Wine Competition

“Anyone can choose food to go with wine,” you might think. “After all, the suggestions are right there on the bottle, and last I checked, crackers, cheese and wine were always a win.”

That’s true. But why be a boring host?

There are several elements to take into consideration when pairing wine and food together. Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind when selecting wine and food, taken from the experts at Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Enjoy!

Salt: “Salty foods seem to limit your wine choices. But with a bit of imagination, you can conjure up some remarkable combinations of salty foods and sweet wines. Bleu cheese and Sauternes is another one of the world’s classic food and wine combos.

Sparkling wines are a homerun with salty, fried foods. The carbonation and yeasty acids emulate beer and clean the salt from your palate, while adding more interesting textures and flavor nuances. Salt is also a principal flavor in briny seafood such as oysters. Acidic wines clean out the salt and balance the rich ocean flavors of the oyster.”


Fat: “A lot of our favorite meat and dairy products have high levels of fat. Wine doesn’t contain fat, so when matching a wine with fatty foods, remember that it has to balance that fat with acid, cut it with tannin, or match its richness with alcohol.

This is why a prime cut of steak tastes so good with a cabernet-based wine; the beef’s protein and fat softens up the wine’s mouth-drying tannins. This sets up the tongue for the wine’s fruit and berries and forest flavors to complement the smoky, meaty flavors of the steak.”

Texture: “As for matching textures, think light and heavy. Light foods are best with light wines; heavy foods with heavy wines. That’s the safest way to go about it. A more adventurous path is to experiment with contrast: matching light foods to heavy wines and vice versa. This will require more testing, to keep the tension dynamic and avoid having the lighter flavors over-shadowed by the heavy ones.”

Read about the other three elements of wine/food pairings and some suggestions on food over here.

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