Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures. – Michael Broadbent
Mister Broadbent is quite right, there is nothing better than eating delicious food and drinking delicious wines. However, not all wines go well with all food, and sometimes they complete each other’s flavors, while other times they attack and confuse your senses. To make things even more complicated, different countries have different wines and a completely different set of rules for food and wine pairings. If you want to master the subtle skill of getting your food in accordance with your wine without too much effort, read on to find out everything there is to know about it.
Basic rules of wine and food pairings
Even though there are a few differences around the world when it comes to combining food and wine, there are some basic rules which serve as a stepping stone for experimenting and adapting them to the region in question. Here are the ones you need to know:
- Low-alcohol wines go well with spicy foods.
- Tannic reds should be paired with red meats.
- If the dish is prepared in a wine sauce, that wine dictates the pairing choice.
- Earthy wines should complement earthy foods.
- Acidity in wine complements fatty and sweet food.
- Bitter wines are paired nicely with sweet food.
- If you don’t know what to do, you can always go with a regional pairing (e.g. Italian food with Italian wine).
Italian wine pairings
Although there was some decline in production in the previous years, Italy still produces the most wine in the world. No wonder we often look up to the Italians when it comes to wine and food pairings. Here are some tips Italians would like you to know:
- Robiola cheeses from the Piedmont are a perfect match for Piedmont red wines, while Parmigiano-Reggiano, Piave and Gorgonzola pair well with Prosecco, Madeira, Port and a wide variety of Italian wines.
- Italians love combining wine with pasta: medium-bodied red wines with tomato-based pasta, light-bodied white wines with seafood and vegetable pasta, and full-bodied white wines and light-bodied reds with cheese-based pasta.
- Olives and wine are a classic match (ripe olives with crisp whites and fruity olives with medium-bodied reds).
Australian wine pairings
Australia is the up-and-coming wine region, where you can buy quality wine in any bottle shop in Sydney, but also in a well-equipped liquor store in Chinatown. After you acquire your bottle of choice, learn to combine wine and food as Australians do:
- Australian Shiraz is one of the most famous wines in the region, and it combines the best with strong, hard cheeses, roast beef, kangaroo meat, beefy stew and Aussies’ favorite – barbeque.
- Seafood is the staple of Australian cuisine, and it goes best with white wines, especially with Chardonnays coming from Yarra or Hunter Valley.
American wine pairings
The United States is the fourth global producer of wine, and their wine pairings are just as you would expect – daring and unconventional:
- Southern fried chicken with rosé enriched with herby notes.
- Classic mac and cheese with berry-scented reds, typical for western Sonoma.
- The all-American burgers can, believe it or not, be paired with powerful red with oaky and chocolate aromas.
United Kingdom wine pairings
Although it can’t compete with other countries in the amounts of wine it produces, the United Kingdom is heaven for food and wine pairings, especially if you like experimenting:
- Dry white wine is ideal for the classic British comfort food – fish and chips.
- There is nothing better than a traditional beef stew and a glass of Bordeaux.
- To finish up, pair the tasty apple crumble pie with a dessert wine like Sauternes.
French wine pairings
Finally, France, as the Mecca for all the wine lovers, is also where you should look to learn the art of wine pairings:
- A typical French dish, Raclette, is usually served with wines from Alsace and ones including citrus, floral and buttery notes.
- Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Riesling are perfect for the famous tarte flambee, choucroute garni and quiche lorraine.
- French often prepare meals where wine is included in sauces, such as coq au vin, which pair well with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.
The skill of pairing food and wine isn’t something that just happens. It takes time and risks to train your taste buds (and learn the theory), but if you really want to, you can master it.
Georgia Selih is author @highstylife.com. By nature an artist, by profession a journalist. An irreparable print lover who is enjoying this hot digital affair.