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Pairing – Food and Wine 101

feat2Everyone has their own opinion about pairing wine with food. The most common thought process is white wine with fish and chicken, red wine with steak and pasta, but it’s more intense and in depth than that generic layout. Should I order Pinot Grigio with fish, is what I’m usually asked. This will depend on a number of different things like what type of fish, is it mild or spicy and the most important thing, what do you prefer.

Wines come in a range of styles from light, medium to full texture, depending on the producer, region, and year amongst other things. So a very oaky Chardonnay will go well with creamy pasta but a un-oaked Chardonnay goes better with a mild fish or poultry. There are so many wines that cross over the lines for basic food pairing, due to a number of different intangibles, it is almost impossible to come up with a complete list of what’s right vs. what’s wrong.

I know individuals that swear by red wine and think if you are a real wine connoisseur that you have no place drinking white wine. Then there are others who think red wine is to dry and not smooth and light enough to enjoy. No matter what your preference, I’m almost a 100% positive that there is white wine that can be enjoyed with steak and red wine that can be enjoyed with fish. No need to worry over this matter, make wine fun, start with what you enjoy and over time start experimenting to expand your wine knowledge.

Just make sure that when you do choose wine with you’re meal it needs to compliment each other based on flavor, texture and acidity.

For example if you’re ordering spicy foods it pairs well with a flavorful wine.

Red meats pair well with a bold full-bodied wine. (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, which are similar style wines)

If your going to have pasta lets say with a red tomato sauce, which is very acidic. You should probably order a white wine with higher acidity like Sauvignon Blanc.

Pasta with a creamy white sauce contains milk so acidic wine is not a good choice.

There are many varieties of fish, some are mild and flaky like cod and others are meatier like tuna or halibut. With a more meaty fish I may go with a wine like Pinot Noir. I can’t stress enough this should be fun, your not trying out to become a sommelier, just try experimenting and I bet you come up with a combination that is very pleasurable.

I will attempt to provide a list that will guide you will to basic pairing. Nothing is set in stone please experiment and add a different combination of pairings.

Red Meat – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Malbec,
Poultry – Riesling, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Rioja
Fish – Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir (meaty fish)
Shellfish – Riesling, Burgundy, Chardonnay
Pasta (red) – Chianti, Sangiovese, Italian wines,
Pasta (white sauce) – Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Barolo,
Spicy foods – Gewurztraminer, Riesling
Desert or Sweets – Ice wine, Moscato

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