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Pairing Food And Wine Is Not Simple Any More, But A Few Simple Rules Really Help Out

Food and wine pairing is not an exact science. Many people follow the ancient rule of paring red wine with red meat and white wine with fish and poultry.

Unfortunately this outdated rule doesn’t take into consideration the complexity of today’s multi-ethnic, highly textured or spiced foods as they relate to the wide range of wines available today.

The new rule when pairing food and wine is to try and achieve the right level of synergy and balance. Quite simply, regardless of the food texture or spices in the food, the wine shouldn’t overpower the food and the food shouldn’t overpower the wine.

The basic flavors found in food are also found in wine. Those flavors include sweet, tart, sour, acidic, bitter and salty (not found in wine, but affects flavor). Furthermore, because wine has alcohol, it adds aromas and body, making the wine and food taste richer.

In order to enhance your success at pairing food and wine you need to do a few things.

1. Balance the weight, texture and intensity of the food so you don’t overwhelm one or the other

2. Determine the primary taste sensations in food. Is it sweet, salty, sour, bitter or savory?

3. Complement the components in your wine (alcohol, acid, sugar and tannin) by balancing foods with the same components. The strongest flavor of the food should be considered the primary component (chicken, beef, fish etc.) to be paired with a similar wine component.

Here are two rules of thumb to remember:

1. Wine seems sweeter and less tannic when paired with foods that have a strong salty, sour or bitter taste

2. Wine seems more tannic, less sweet and more acidic when paired with foods that have a strong sweet or savory taste

You need to reckon of wine as an additional condiment or spice that would go nicely with the food. When you drink wine alone without food, it has a really different taste than it does when you drink it with food. This is because wine acts as sort of a spice on its own. Once the wine is paired with food, acids, tannins and sugars in the wine interact with the food to provide different taste sensations for different types of foods eaten.

Bitter flavors in food increase the taste of bitter, tannic elements in wine. Foods that are sour or salty suppress the bitter taste in wine. Salt in food can also tone down the bitterness to make sweet wines taste even sweeter. Salt, lemon, vinegar, and mustard seasonings can be used to spice up foods to achieve balance and help pair foods to wines better. In addition, they can either make the wine taste milder or stronger.

If you serve a dish that contains citrus or vinegar (acidic), then you should choose an acidic wine for the sake of balance. Keep in mind though that if you have a dish that is only lightly acidic, you can pair it nicely with a lightly sweet wine. Some acidic wines to consider include Sauvignon Blanc and most sparkling wines like Champagne. Because the acidity found in wines tones down saltiness, sparkling wines generally pair better with salty foods than most red wines.

It is widely known that wine can enhance the overall eating experience by enhancing the flavor of foods. If you pair the right wine with the right foods, you can delight in the uniqueness of both the foods and the wine. The trick is to find similarities and/or contrasts in flavor, body (texture), intensity, and taste.

All your pairings may not be perfect but many will certainly be enjoyable!

Delight in!

Steve Sands
PairingFoodAndWine.com www.PairingFoodAndWine.com
It’s time to take the guess work out of pairing food and wine, once and for all!

Tags: cookbook, everyday food recipes, food people, Flavors, my recipes, dairy free recipes, Fruits And Vegetables, simply recipes, today show, tasty

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