Food and wine pairing is actually very easy once you have the correct basic information on both the food and the wine. If you don’t have this information, then the pairing will be down to luck rather than judgement.
The main problem that people encounter when pairing food and wine is a lack of information on the wine side. So what basic information should you have?
For the food you only need to know the main ingredient, how it is cooked and the sauces/ seasonings, if any – that’s usually quite straight forward. Now, for the wine you should consider its basic elements: flavours, body, dry/sweet and acidity, as well as tannin for red wine.
- Match the richness or heaviness of the food with the body of the wine.
- Match the flavour strength of the food with the flavour strength of the wine.
- Match high acid foods (dishes containing tomatoes, lemon/lime juice, vinegar, apples or pineapples) with high acid wines.
- Match fatty or oily foods with high acid wines.
- Match sweet foods with sweet wines.
- Match salty foods (eg. fish or cheese) with high acid or sweet wines.
- Match barbequed foods with oaked wines.
- Match hot or very spicy foods with dry or medium-dry, unoaked white wines.
- Don’t pair full flavoured dishes with delicate or light bodied wines.
- Don’t pair oily or salty foods with high tannin wines (they require high acid wines).
- Don’t pair hot and spicy foods with high alcohol, high tannin or oaked wines.
- Don’t pair fried foods with low acid wines (they require high acid wines).