Apart from being a nice beverage, wine is a food accessory. It is a delicious seasoning with food to bolster its deliciousness. Many cultures have various dishes that are paired with wine, each with different flavours based on geography, climate and available ingredients. People living in cold areas tend to enjoy high alcohol kaoliang wine and vodka to keep their bodies warm. Countries in East Asia, such as Japan and South Korea, mainly brew rice wine. "Local food with local wine" is the basic matching method. French wine is often paired with French seafood or duck legs, Spanish fruit wine (Sangria) with tapas, German beer with German sausage, Italian wine with Italian pasta, and so on.
However, the most common and popular table wine is grape wine. It has the widest variety, with producers from all over the globe, making it the easiest to match with the dishes from different countries.
Recently, retirees have cooked more delicious food at home, but when choosing wine, they feel dazzled and have no clue where to start. The central premise of choosing wine as part of a meal is to maintain the balance between wine and food, not let one overwhelm the other, and coordinate the pairing to create a good balance.
Basic collocation principles
In combining wine with food, we need to pay attention to 6 elements: acid, oil, bitterness (tannins), saltiness, sweetness and alcohol content. The wine base does not have fat, spicy and salty tastes but contains different degrees of sourness, sweetness and astringency. In general, wines can be divided into three categories: Red wines have high astringency. White, rosé and sparkling wines have high acidity. Sweet wines have a high degree of sweetness.
Table wine should be more acidic than food.
Table wine should be sweeter than food.
Wine has the same flavor intensity and thickness as food.
Red wines are best paired with meats with stronger flavors such as red meats.
White wines are best paired with milder meats such as fish or chicken.
Astringent wines, such as red wines are best balanced with the fatty taste of meat.
The wine should match the taste of the sauce (or seasoning) rather than the taste of the ingredients themselves.
Flavours from white, sparkling and rosé wines tend to collide.
Red wines produce a harmonious effect.
Red wine with tannins produces a more astringent taste. Pairing it with salty red meats rich in fat helps relieve this astringent feeling, while the tannins can also balance the oiliness of the meat.
If a strong red wine is paired with white meat or seafood, it will bring out the unpleasant fishy or metallic taste of seafood. Hence, white wines which are generally more refreshing with higher acidic content complement these dishes better. It helps reduce the fishy taste of seafood, while the meat smoothens the tartness of the wine. In general, the taste of white wine is lighter than that of red wine, so as to enhance the light taste of white meat.
On the other hand, the "red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat" that we often hear is not an absolute law. The cooking method of the dishes can also have an impact. For example, while seafood cooked with cream pairs well with white wine, seafood that is grilled or fried in oil can go well with rosé or a light red wine such as Pinot Noir or Merlot. Try it out and experiment! It’s important to just have fun with it and explore the different combinations of flavours. We suggest a moderate red wine from France to start off if you’d like to store some table wine at home as it is easy to match.
Rosé is another versatile wine. With the acidity of white wine and the fruity aroma of red wine, it is suitable for cheese, sausage, pork, grilled fish and most other foods.
Western food paired with table wine
An aperitif is to be drunk before the meal to increase appetite. So, the choice of wine should be acidic, and sugar content no more than 4 grams / liter. High-acid dry white wines, such as French betel and German Reisling are good choices. Aperitifs can also be used as a side dish, especially with refreshing seafood.
Generally, Western food includes three courses: appetizer, main course and dessert, with each course having its matching table wine. Whether fried, roasted or accompanied by sauce, red meat is not suitable for white wine. Meanwhile, red wine with slightly obvious tannins, mellow fruit flavour or rich and strong layers is a good match for red meat. White meat is very congenial and goes well with most wines. However, the taste of white meat is quite delicate, so avoid red wine with rich layers.
Green vegetables can tighten wines, working well with refreshing fruity white and red wine, or unsweetened rosé. The richness from eggs can be matched with fresh wines, such as refreshing fruity white wine, unsweetened pink wine and mellow fruity red wine with less tannins. We suggest champagne and eggs benedict for brunch.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most reliable red meat companion, while Pinot Noir is the most versatile. It is suitable for red meat, white meat, eggs and seafood. For those are light drinkers, Pinot Noir can be used with both appetizers and main courses.
opular in some foreign countries, dessert pairing wines such as German Reisling or Prosecco with apple pies, Vin Santo with tiramisus, Ruby Port with dark chocolate desserts just to name a few are all excellent pairings. Digestible aperitifs such as Sherry, Bristol Cream and ice wines are also good choices.
After dinner wine
For the more verbose friends, they like to have a cup in hand after dinner when they chat. At this time, you can choose the brandy with high alcohol content, but you can also continue to enjoy the port, sherry or any wine you have paired your delicious meal with.