A Cheat's Guide To Pairing Food And Wine
Have a date to impress or an upcoming dinner with your boss? You don't want to risk ordering the wrong type of wine with your meal, but you don't have to spend hours trying to learn the intricate differences between malbec and rioja. Simply identify the dominant taste attributes of your chosen dish and choose a wine that complements rather than contrasts with the flavours. For example, a crisp, acidic sauvignon blanc is perfect with dishes that have strong citrus notes, such as prawns marinated in chilli and lime or lemon and herb chicken. Follow these simple guidelines when ordering and your fellow diners will think you know your stuff:
Chicken or turkey dishes served with a heavy, cream-based sauce should be enjoyed with a rich wine, such as a chardonnay or white burgundy. If you order fried chicken, choose a sauvignon blanc to cleanse the palate and balance the heaviness of the oil. Game birds, such as pheasant and partridge, have a stronger essence than white poultry and require a full-flavoured wine, such as a pinot noir, to complement the gamey flavour.
Wine with noticeable tannin notes, such as shiraz and merlot, work well with the simple meaty flavour of a grilled steak. If you opt for beef in a rich peppercorn sauce you'll want a full-bodied wine that won't be overpowered by the array of flavours in your meal, so try a malbec or zinfandel. Beef served with a tomato sauce needs a wine rich enough to complement the beef and acidic enough to match the sauce, so order a chianti.
Fish And Seafood
Vinho verde and sauvignon blanc are delicate enough for white fish and seafood, such as scallops and oysters, while the stronger flavour of brown crab meat pairs well with chardonnay. Oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are best enjoyed with a medium-bodied wine that has berry notes and will cleanse the palate slightly, so opt for a pinot noir or pinot gris.
Consider the flavour notes of the main vegetable when pairing wine with a vegetarian dish. A crisp, light sauvignon blanc is perfect with tender asparagus, while a rioja aged in oak barrels will complement the earthy flavour of chestnut mushrooms beautifully.
The next time you go out for a fine dinner, simply choose a wine that shares similar flavour notes to the main component of your meal. If your meal is rich, choose a full-bodied wine, and if you opt for a more delicate dish, choose a crisp wine that won't overpower the flavours on your plate.