Know Your Wine
A great meal deserves a great wine. Adding the right wines to your dinner menu can set the tone for an evening and enhance the flavor of almost any food. Even if you’re not a wine connoisseur, you can still act like one, with these few simple tips.
The first element to consider when coupling wine with food is the wine’s reaction to the food. Sweeter foods will make wine seem drier than it is. Bitter foods highlight a wine’s bitterness, so choose a fruity wine to complement foods like charbroiled meats and bitter green salads. Acidic wines will complement acidic foods. Try Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir for foods cooked with lemon or soy. If you’re serving a variety of wines at a large gathering, always be sure to serve light before heavy, white before red, and simple wines before those with a more complex character.
For lighter dishes like pasta and fish, choose lighter-flavored wines and select full-bodied wines for more substantial foods like beef and lasagna. Filet mignon pairs beautifully with Cabernet Sauvignon while chardonnay will accentuate the delicate taste of fish. Muscadet is a classic pairing with oysters that adds texture and has a crisp taste. If you prefer a red with fish, try softer reds such as Pinot Noir, Syrah, or Manage a Trois. White wines like Muscadet or Pinot Grigio also pair nicely with a pasta and shrimp dish.
Wine and cheese are delicious on their own, but when paired together it is a mouthwatering and irresistible combination – that is, if you know how to match them well to complement all flavors. Soft, pungent, crumbly blue cheese pairs with the sweetness of port, a Portuguese sweet red wine. A tannic, full-bodied wine like Cabernet Sauvignon stands up to the intense nutty flavors of aged Gouda. If you incorporate tangy goat cheese onto a cheese spread or top it on crackers or crostini, wash it down with a sip of Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Franc if you prefer red wine. Rosé is a crisp, showstopping choice that is a brilliant pairing for a variety of semi-soft cheeses like goat cheese, Gruyère, Havarti and Monterey Jack.
Nothing beats a delicious appetizer or entrée paired with the perfect wine selection, but it’s acceptable to break the rules once in a while. Experiment with different flavor profiles; there’s no telling what great combinations you may discover!