When it comes to food and wine, reds go with meat and whites go with fish right? While that’s a basic rule of thumb, there’s plenty more to food and wine pairing.
As summer nears, and there are more and more opportunities for warm weather entertaining, it’s time we talked pairings, not just because you’ll be able to impress your guests, but because your meal will be even tastier (whether or not you’re serving meat).
If you want a helpful visual guide to taking you through the world of food and wine, check out the one made by Wine Folly, which can serve as an excellent resource when looking to put dishes together with drink.
So, let’s get down to a few basics that will help in figuring out your summer menus and choosing which type of wine to serve.
1. Salty foods go great with bubbles
This make bubbly, be it champagne, prosseco, cava or any other sparkling wine, the perfect pre-dinner treat, paired well with salty appetizers.
2. Choose similar flavors
Think about the flavors in a wine and what’s in your food. For example, pair a wine that has citrus flavors in it with a dish that does as well. This means sitting down with a glass of wine, tasting it and thinking about what will pair well. Research is the fun part!
3. If you’re cooking a vegetarian dish, pair the wine to the spices
If vegetables are on the menu, most food and wine pairing guides will have you go towards a dry white wine, but that’s keeping things simple. Think about what spices are in your dishes and find wines that will complement them. For example, buttery wines go well with citrus, butter or cream sauces and curries. Reds can pair well with some of the spicier stuff, like chili sauces and salsas. Oh My Veggies has a great guide to pairing vegetarian dishes with wines that you can check out for more guidance.
4. The wine should be sweeter and more tart than your food
Ever wonder why port is often served with dessert? Because if what you’re drinking is less sweet than what you’re eating, your wine will taste tart. And no one wants that. While not all wines have an element of sweetness, you can also think about this in the sense that you don’t want your food to take away from the flavors in your wine. So wine should have a higher acidity than what you’re serving. For example a salad with a strong vinaigrette will go better with an extra brut champagne than a buttery chardonnay.
5. Pair cheese with white wine
To a lot of people, this one sounds counter-intuitive, since the “red wine and cheese” line is the mantra of many a dinner party. However, a red wine can overpower a lot of cheeses, and if you want to bring the flavors of the cheese out instead of dousing them, a white wine will help you do so. Once you’ve decided which cheeses you want to serve, certain whites work better than others. Chardonnay with the creamy ones and so on. Check out this roundup on The Kitchn for an idea of what whites go well with what cheeses.
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Image: Emiliano de Laurentiis