MATCHING FOOD AND WINE
My personal first rule is "Never let anyone tell you what you should or should not drink. If you like a wine and it works for you, just do it!" However, there are certain chemistries which go better together than others;
Pairing food and wine is all about balancing the basic components you find in both.
There are several basic rules that you need to consider:
- The weight or richness of a food. The most important! It must be matched with the body of the wine.
- The flavour intensity of both.
- Acidity levels. High-acid foods needs to be matched with high-acid wines and vice versa.
- Sweetness. Sweet foods needs to be matched with sweet wines.
You also need to take into account how a food has been cooked. Roasted foods will need a full-bodied and more robust wine because this method of cooking adds intensity of flavours to the food. This is the same with stewed or braised food as they are weightier and so need a powerful wine to complement it.
In contrast, steamed food goes best with lighter-flavoured wine.
Rich, heavyweight foods like roast meats need a full bodied wine which is high in tannins. Tannins are important because they react with protein. So foods with a high protein content, especially chewy red meat, will soften the effects of the tannin on the palate. This explains why wines from high-tannin grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz pair well with roast meats, stews and steaks.
Lighter food such as plain white meat or fish is complemented by more delicate wine. White wines work best but light-bodied, low tannin red wines like Beaujolais will also complement white meats because these are low in proteins. And dont forget to consider the sauce! Rich creamy sauces need wines of sufficient body to match the food and flavours.
This is the tough one. The highly spiced foods can overpower most wines. My best recommendation for a good spicey meal is our very own St Roch Viognier. It is rich and spicey itself and more than a match for Thai, Chinese and lighter curries. With a very full palate but dry and with good acidity it is also very refreshing.
Most whites are fine on their own, but big oaky ones and sweet ones can be a bit much without the appropriate foods. For reds try to avoid those with big tannins and high acidity - these need food. So go for rich and soft New World wines or a lighter grape variety such as Merlot.