Quick Recipes and Easy

Choosing Food For Wine Parties

Oh, the choices! Just like everything else about wine, the possibilities are endless. So, what does one do when choosing food for a wine party, or alternately, choosing wine for a food party?

•First, determine what your comfort level is, in terms of budget, how many people you wish to entertain and how proficient you are in the kitchen. Don’t lose sight of the fact that parties are supposed to be fun for everyone, host and hostess included. So if you’ve got some experience under your belt, go ahead and mount a four course feast with two wines per course. But if you’re still gaining experience, perhaps a tapas party with several rounds of light appetizers would be appropriate.

•Second, start to focus on specific wines for each course. See the Food and Wine article for suggestions of pairing strategies and the order in which to serve wines. Remember to use the anchor wine categories in the Choosing Wine article to guide you in choosing the style of wine you desire.

•Third, make a list of dishes that you are comfortable preparing. Compare them to the emerging wine list and start matching dishes with wines.

Luckily, you have a secret tool to help your party be successful. It’s called the Psycho-Sensory Phenomenon. In the realm of food and drink, not only do genetics come into play, determining how we taste and smell things, but also, a strong psychological response is at work. This means that the atmosphere of the party (excellent people, conversation, music, lighting) will exert a fantastic influence over the perception of pleasure. It is a fine blend of biology and psychology.

Here are a few more hints to help you successfully pair food with wine.

•Tannic wines can taste more tannic when paired with salty foods and less tannic when paired with protein-rich, fatty foods like steak or cheese. They can also diminish the perception of sweetness in food.

•Sweet wines can taste fruitier and less sweet with salty foods. They can make salty foods more appetizing. And surprisingly, they can go well with sweet foods.

•Acidic wines can taste less acidic when served with salty foods or slightly sweet foods. They can also balance oily or fatty foods. Also, they can go well with acidic foods. Be careful, though. They can make salty foods taste saltier.

•High alcohol wines can overwhelm light or delicate foods. But, they can be paired with slightly sweet foods.

As you gain experience pairing wine with food, keep excellent notes. Here are some things to look for:

•Does the food exaggerate a characteristic of the wine?

•Does the food diminish a characteristic of the wine?

•Does the food or wine obliterate the other?

•Does the pairing make new flavors not apparent in the food or wine alone?

•Does the pairing make a gestalt, where the sum is greater than the parts? If so, you’re on the right path.

The wine and food balancing trick, demonstrated by Master of Wine Tim Hanni, works especially well with aggressive wines such as powerful Chardonnays and burly Cabernet Sauvignons. You simply salt your food lightly and squeeze some fresh lemon over it and the food and wine nearly always comes into balance.

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