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Matching Food & Wine Tastings: a brief guide
It can be great fun as well as educational, learning useful rules about food & wine matched tastings and pairings, indeed, it is very important to select and enjoy the correct wine for any food.
What we love about wine is that food & wine matching is more art than science. So, while the goal of food & wine matching events are to provide a great starting point, clearly your own preferences and experiences will quickly take over.
Simple rules to get started with pairings or food & wine matched tastings.
DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE
What you like to drink always takes precedence over any recommendations.
Start by thinking about the dish or meal as a whole. What are its dominant characteristics?
Is it mild or flavourful?
Is it fatty or lean?
Is it rich or acidic?
With these characteristics in mind, select a wine that will:
Keep flavours in balance
Match mild foods with mild wines. Match big, flavourful foods with big, flavourful wines.
Similarly you generally want to match the richness of the food and the richness of the wine.
Cleanse the palate with tannins or acids
If you are re eating a relatively rich, ‘fatty’ dish and thinking about drinking a red wine, you probably want a wine with some good tannins in it to help cleanse the palate.
If you’re eating a very rich, “fatty” dish and thinking about drinking a white wine, you probably want to contrast the meal with a refreshingly crisp acidic wine. This is another useful tip for food & wine matching newbies!
Match Acids with Acids
If you’re eating a dish with a strong acidic content pair it with an acidic wine that can keep up with the acids in the food.
Acidic Wines and Cream Don’t Mix
Rich cream sauces will usually clash with an acidic wine. Think about it this way: if you squeezed lemon juice into a cup of milk, would it taste good?
Wine and Strong Spices
Strong spices, such as hot chili peppers in some Chinese or Indian food, can clash and destroy the flavours in a wine. In most cases, wine is not the ideal thing to drink. However, if wine is what you must have, consider something spicy and sweet itself such as an off-dry Gewurtztraminer or Riesling.
When In Doubt
Remember that foods generally go best with the wines they grew up with. So if you’re eating Italian food, think about having an Italian wine. This isn’t a requirement, but often helps simplify the decision.
More About Tannins
Tannins can come from many places, including the skins of the grapes used in winemaking as well as the wood barrels a wine may have been aged in.
Tannin tastes similar to the flavour you would get if you sucked on a tea bag. This astringent flavour is what helps strip the fats from your tongue and thereby cleanse the palate of the rich fats from a meal and provide a refined, refreshing drink.
Some studies have also indicated that tannin might help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Specifically, tannin might suppress the creation of a peptide that causes arteries to harden (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-match-wine-food).
Fiona Becket’s Website is an inspiring source of ideas for food & wine matched tastings!