Choosing wine with food does not have to
be a science although it can be confusing, particularly today when there
is such choice in the food and wine available. Concentrating on the
basic characteristics of various wines and the flavors of different
foods is the key to finding compatibility. for a dinner party, it's well
worth taking the trouble to select a wine which will show off your food
to good effect.
When selecting a wine to accompany food,
consider the main ingredient and, more importantly, the strongest flavor
in the dish. It's easy to match chicken when it's plainly cooked, but in
most cases a sauce or marinade provides the predominant flavor. A Thai
green chicken curry presents a bit more of a challenge, but can be
matched with a fruity Sémillon or Sauvignon Blanc. Sharply flavored
chutneys and spicy salsas can affect the taste of a wine, and if a dish
is cooked in beer, it generally makes sense to drink a similar beverage
In a restaurant, you may be put on the
spot, by having to choose a wine to drink with a combination of flavors
and dishes. In these circumstances, look for food-friendly wines or
bridging wines. Pinot Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris from the
white stable, and fruity reds such as Merlot and Pinot Noir, can be
enjoyed with fish and lighter meat dishes. Rosés provide versatility and
will go with a range of dishes, from salads to mildly spiced dishes.
Do's and Don't of Choosing Wine
The do's and don'ts of matching wines to
food listed here are based on the flavor characteristics and profiles of
the main wine styles. It is only a guideline as room should always be
made for experimentation.
√ Serve dry fruity wines as
aperitifs. Consider soft wines, e.g. Soave, with plain fish / white
X Overpower simple plain flavors in
√ Consider wines with aromatic
characteristics with pronounced flavors in food
X Put pronounced wines, such as
Sauvignon from New Zealand, with delicate fish dishes.
Body and Alcohol
√ Consider the balance and weight
of the wine with the flavor of a dish, not forgetting that sometimes
lightness in a wine can be successful with heavy food.
X Expect light wines to provide a
good match to strong flavors.
Dryness and Sweetness
√ Think about ripeness of fruit -
wines with ripe 'sweetness' that are actually dry. Consider wines with
some sweetness with vegetables, e.g. carrots (which have a sweetness of
their own). Select a sweet wine as sweet as a pudding.
X Serve dry wines with sweets.
√ Bear in mind the softening effect
that food has on wines with tannin.
X Pair red wines (high in tannin)
with egg-based dishes, celery or spinach and spicy food.
Intensity of Flavor
√ Match richly flavored dishes with
X serve intense wines with subtle
√ Try oaked wines with smoked fish
X In general, served oaked wines
with spicy dishes
√ Bridge the gap between richness
in food and in wines
X Serve buttery, rich wines, with
simply prepared and flavored dishes