Matching the Right Wine with the Right Food is Not as Hard as it Sounds
Complimenting a well prepared meal with the right wine use to be a monumental task for most home chefs because there was not enough information available to make the right choice. Thanks to the popularity of wine drinking and the abundance of vineyards around the world pairing food and wine is nothing to fret over; almost anything goes these days although there are certain principles that should be considered before a wine is chosen as a dinner partner.
The old saying that red wine is perfect for red meat and white wine is best for white meat still hold credence in some cooking circles, but there are exceptions. Roasted chicken as well as tuna and salmon go well with a hearty red, but it would overpower a delicate white fish. A light white Viognier would be considered a wimp when it’s paired with rare roast beef, but it could work with a chicken pasta dish or a braised chicken entrée.
Follow Some Basic Food and Wine Guidelines
There are a few basic guidelines that are easy to remember:
- Most Salads work best with a Riesling or a Rose.
- Serve a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc with rich fish dishes or shellfish.
- A light red white or a dry white wine compliment chicken and white meats.
- Serve Italian wine with Italian food.
- Duck and goose taste better with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot, but some chefs prefer a sparkling rose with duck.
- Spicy food works better with a white Chenin Blanc or a Riesling.
- Deserts work well with a sweet or semi-sweet white wine although chocolate tastes great with a full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Syrah.
Match Different Wine Grapes with Different Dinner Entrees
A little knowledge about wine grapes goes a long way when preparing dinner entrees. There is a common list of grapes that work with different foods and if the list is followed any meal should have that extra quality that puts it into the home gourmet category.
- The Chardonnay grape usually produces a medium to full bodied dry white wine. It can be served with poultry and game birds as well as pork, veal, fish, and rabbit. Pasta dishes that feature butter or cream and mushrooms also taste better with Chardonnay.
- The Sauvignon Blanc grape produces a light to medium bodied dry white wine. Serve it with luncheon salads, vegetable dishes, pastas, curries, salsas, tomato sauce, and olive-oil based dishes.
- The Chenin Blanc grape produces a semi-sweet to off-dry light to medium bodied white wine. It works with sushi, braised chicken, Oriental dishes, pork, and poultry.
- The Gewürztraminer grape is semi-sweet and produces an off-dry light to medium bodied white wine that works well with Mexican, Chinese, and Indian entrees.
- Riesling grapes produce light to medium off-dry white wines that work with finger foods, appetizers, and crabmeat.
- Cabernet Sauvignon grapes produce a medium to full bodied tannic dry red wine that is perfect with beef, lamb, duck, pork, cheeses, and game meats.
- The Merlot grape is a medium to full bodied dry red that produces a less tannic wine. It can be served with pizza, pasta, beef, pork, lamb, duck, cheeses, and game meats.
- The Zinfandel grape makes a full to medium bodied red wine as well as a lighter style red dry wine. It compliments burgers, beef, turkey, stews, hearty pastas, and lamb.
- The Pinot Noir grape produces a light to medium bodied red wine with a silky texture. Serve it with lamb, duck, semi-soft cheese, rabbit, game birds, and beef.
- Specialty grapes like Rose, White Zinfandel, Blush, Cabernets Blanc, and Blanc de Noirs vary in color and sweetness and the most current vintage is usually the best. Serve them with smoked foods, quiche, Thai and Mexican food, pork, ham, and just about any other food.