Enjoying the perfect wine/food pairing can really be an amazing experience. But there is so much that can go into something like that: The taste and texture of underlying food, the taste and texture of any sauces, accompaniments, condiments; the sweetness, saltiness and acidity level of each, etc. Oy, you could drive yourself nuts! (oh, the presence of nuts would be another consideration).
I have said in prior blogs that people make wine much more complicated than it needs to be. It’s a beverage to be enjoyed for goodness sake, not agonized over. And this couldn’t be more true than when it comes to pairing food and wine. This is where the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principal really works well. So here are some SIMPLE tips when it comes to food and wine pairing.
Tip No. 1 – Let others do the groundwork for you. By this I mean choose wine and food from the same region. For me, this is the absolute best way to pair wine and food and since I like to keep things simple, perhaps the easiest. It’s the lazy man’s way of wine and food pairing because you are letting other people do your work for you.
Since in the old world (e.g. Europe) wine has always been an integral part of everyday life, it just make sense that after hundreds and in some places over 1000 years of trial and error, we can trust that the folks of say Tuscany have figured out that Sangiovese based wines go very well with pork (wild boar) ragu pasta and that folks from the northwest coast of Spain have figured out that Albarino goes well with the food that was most abundant, namely seafood. So if in doubt, just think about what region your cuisine is from and choose a wine from that region.
Tip No. 2 – The wine you really want is the wine you should get. For goodness sake, if you are jonesing for a particular wine…as Mr. Nike would say.. JUST DO IT! And with only the loosest of guidelines, (See below) I can almost guarantee that you will walk away from the meal a whole lot happier than if you are shackled to your wine choice to a particular food you are having.
If you want that beautiful Bordeaux but are worried that your shrimp appetizer will clash with it (and it generally will clash) … I wouldn’t let a couple of bites of shrimp dictate my wine choice. Drink some of the great Bordeaux before you have the shrimp and then maybe take a breather from the Bordeaux in the few minutes it takes to enjoy the shrimp and then a bite of bread and a sip of water and back to the Bordeaux and your non-shrimp main course to come.
Tip No. 3 – The KISS Don’ts. This is my personal very short list of pairings to avoid:
- Tannic red wine (e.g. Cabernet) and shrimp (the iodine in the shrimp screams out when it meets a tannic wine) or oily fish;
- Delicate white wine (e.g. Pinot Grigio) with hearty red meats (e.g. Steak)
- High Alcohol wine and spicy food (the spice makes the wine taste even more alcoholic)
I know there are many other combinations to avoid, but these top my KISS list.
Tip No. 4 – The KISS Dos. Here are just few other simple things to consider:
- Think of wine as a sauce or condiment and imagine how the combination of that “sauce” will taste with the food you are having. (This is my favorite tip and I really use this… try it, it works!)
- Opposites can Attract. Don’t think that you have to match that buttery chardonnay with the buttery cream sauce. You might try a more acidic white wine such as a Sancerre (sauvignon blanc grape) to “cut” the creaminess.
- A Cab and a Slab is tried and true. Sorry, but for me, if you have a nice juicy steak, you really can’t go wrong with a nice big Napa Cab.
- Young Pinot Noirs go great with non-oily fish.
- Focus on the sauce as much or more than what’s under it
- Champagne or similar sparkling wine goes with just about anything
So, there you have it. Some ideas that will help you KISS your wine/food pairing troubles goodbye.
(week of 8/27/2018)
Mention to your server that you that you are KISSING your wine and food pairing troubles goodbye and get 10% off week’s Cuvée Ray: Uncorked Flight of the Week.