So, you’re having a dinner party and you don’t know what kind of wine to serve with your main course. Well the truth is, nowadays, you can serve whatever type of wine you like with whatever your course may be.
The old adage of Red Wine with Red Meats, White Wine with White Meats is a bit passé in today’s society. Still, clichés exist for a reason, and the reason (in very basic terms), is this:
Red Wine: Because of the richer tannins and rolling flavors found in red wine, the flavor and feel of le vin rouge tends to be more overpowering. When eaten with other rich flavors such as a creamy cheddar cheese or a juicy steak, the tannins in the wine actually bind to the proteins in your food, thereby leaving your tongue less susceptible to the astringent, drying sensation that red wine often provides. Additionally, the rich flavors complement nicely with the strong, rich tastes found in your steak or cheese and the two work in harmony together.
White Wine: White wine tends to be crisper, lighter, higher in acidity but much lower in tannins (if any). Because of this, white wine tends to go nicely with milder dishes such as poached seafood or raw oysters. The crisp, light flavors do not overpower the subtle flavors of the food and provide a pleasant, refreshing accompaniment with them.
So which to choose? Really, any you like. While the above paragraphs demonstrate the reason behind the adage, there is no reason why you can’t try a rich, red wine with raw oysters or a crisp Chardonnay with you veal parmesan. In fact, I enjoy matching apparent opposites such as this. The flavors and contrasts are fun to experiment with.
Plus, if you’re like me, sometimes you just prefer a red over a white (or vice versa), no matter what you’re eating.
Bottom line? Red or White is really up to you and it is an acceptable practice in our modern age to drink whichever with whatever foods. In my experience, the folks that speak condescendingly about “You’re supposed to drink red wine with that….” usually don’t know much about wine in the first place and are just spouting out what they’ve heard from everyone else.