In the field of culinary arts, one of the keys to success is in knowing how to combine wine with food. High-end restaurants and hotels often hire sommeliers whose main job is to understand the very best combinations for the customers.
For those with keen taste buds, a good meal can be disaster if the food and wine combination is wrong. Of course, a chef or a sommelier will know how to do this since their professions require that knowledge, but for the average person it may not be so readily apparent. If this is the case for you then the following basic guidelines may be of help:
- The food should not overpower the wine, but the reverse is also true, the wine should not overpower the food; a balance is the best solution.
- Avoid pairing strong with delicate. There is the oft-repeated mantra–red wine for red meat, white wine for white meat. This is a good basic rule to follow since you want to avoid combining a strong taste with a delicate taste. For example, a heavy meal like stew would go well with an equally heavy red wine but not so well with a lighter tasting white wine. Also, fatty dishes combine best with the sharper taste associated with red wines. This sharpness is a result of the red wine having more tannin than whites due to being produced by a different fermentation process.
- As you might expect, sweet wines work best with sweet foods.
- When planning a meal remember that as the wine’s alcohol content goes up, the food’s palatability decreases more often than not.
- Culture and tradition may also play a very important part in the process. For example, it may come as no surprise that Italian wine is well suited for Italian food. Nobody has come up with a valid explanation for this but perhaps the food and the drink have acquired an affinity to each other over time.
These guidelines, once considered sacred rules, are now only basic suggestions. Many people today match red wine with fish or whites wines with steak. While in the past this would have been unthinkable, today anything goes. In the end, it is really up to you but you will never go wrong by following the basic rules above.