Whether you’re an aspiring cook taking culinary classes in Boulder or are simply hosting a dinner party, you know that wine can be vital to a good meal. To some, pairing food and wine can be daunting, but finding the perfect wine to balance the flavors of your food is easier than you think. Here are some pairing tips that will intensify your meal and woo your guests:
Reds go with red meats
Tannins are the natural astringent compounds found in grape skins, seeds and stems. Tannins also dissolve into wine through contact with wood. Generally, red wines have a higher tannin content than white wines because of the extended aging process. They are an excellent source of antioxidants and natural preservatives, and they also give wine structure and texture. Tannins provide an important dimension in wine which can help when you’re trying to categorize drink and food flavors. Try matching the strength of the meat with strength of the wine. If you’re serving a hearty meat, go for a dry red to complement the flavors.
Match the wine to the central theme of the dish
If you’re in culinary school, you are learning to make all kinds of different main and side dishes. Because some of your meals can have many ingredients, choosing what wine will correspond best can be difficult. A rule to abide by is to identify the dominant flavor rather than the main ingredient. Blackened salmon and seared salmon can yield two completely different tastes. In summary, find the flavor and pair accordingly.
Try sweet with salt
If you’ve ever had chocolate-covered pretzels, you know that salty and sweet can be a great combination. Try to mimic this by combining salty foods with a sweeter wine. The sweetness in the wine tastes more fruity, and it will enhance the salty dish to make it even more savory. A great example of this is combining a sweet wine like Port with a salty cheese like Roquefort.
Categorize your dessert and then match
Many people find that pairing dessert to a complementary wine is tricky. Most desserts are sweet, but a light and sweet wine can sometimes be too overbearing. An important element to remember is to first categorize your dessert. Experts recommend defining your dessert in one of these three tiers:
- Custard and vanilla
- Fruit and spice
- Caramels and chocolates
The rule of thumb is that the darker your dessert gets, the darker the wine gets. For example, for dishes that are buttery like custards and vanilla, try sparkling white wines to compliment the lightness of the dish. For the desserts with fruit or spice like pies, a delicate sweet wine could pair perfectly. It’s common knowledge that chocolate and wine can go great together. When pairing wine with chocolate, seek ones that have the same flavor notes as the chocolates, like nuts, cherry or mint. However, you can go the complete opposite route and contrast the flavors. When in doubt, know that champagne is a safe bet for any delicious dessert you decide to serve.