Food and wine pairing is much simpler than you think. The main rules are to enjoy yourself and that the food and wine must both taste great on their own. If you remember this and follow these guideline food and wine matching will be a breeze.
There are no rules
The first and most important rule. There are no rules that work for every situation and every person so relax and don’t waste your time worrying about breaking them.
As long as you and your guests are having fun then your food and wine matching has been a success, regardless of what the traditional rules would have us believe.
The food and wine must both taste great on their own
This is the second rule which and can be seen as the rule of thumb for wine matching. You can’t expect for a juicy steak to improve the taste of a bad wine. The same goes for the food, if it’s not going to taste any good on its own, it is very unlikely that your wine match, no matter how delicious, is going to make the food taste better.
Match wine with people first
Just as some people always have and always will hate anchovies, some people just don’t enjoy certain styles of wine, regardless of the quality of the vino. Sometimes this may be based on a bad experience with a poor quality example, and if the person in question did actually try a decent Sauvignon Blanc they may find that they love it. But forcing people to try new things may do more harm than good.
Respect that everyone’s palate is different. Think about your guests and their wine preferences first and think about the food matching second.
Weight is important
Lighter, more delicately flavored food generally works best with lighter style wines. Heavy tannic reds tend to be best with more robust meaty dishes but of course there will always be times when a light wine could team marvelously with a heavy rich dish
Wine and food can contrast one another
Contrast is something that we personally love to play with. Using a light acidic wine like a Sauvignon Blanc to cut through the oiliness of fried fish and chips is always a winner. Unless of course you’re with someone who hates acidic wine (see rule ii).
Wine and food can compliment each other
Sometimes finding flavor similarities can result in a harmonious food and wine matching experience. The earthiness of mushrooms in a mushroom risotto can work a treat with a funky earthy Pinot Noir. A fresh, minty Cabernet Sauvignon to compliment classic roast lamb with mint sauce can also be a flavor explosion.
Trust your own instincts.
Like most things in life, if it feels like it’s a bit dodgy and it isn’t going to work then you’re probably on the right track.
It isn’t the end of the world if the food and wine are more at the divorce end of the relationship spectrum as long as you follow rule number three, you’ll be able to enjoy each on their own. A judicious sip of palate cleansing water in between mouthfuls can make all the difference.
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