mercoledì 9 aprile 2008

Wine Pairing 101

For a long time, I thought that pairing wine was something very sophisticated that only the most dedicated connoisseur could do appropriately. I discovered later that while it can be tricky at times to find the right wine that works well with a specialized dish, there are a few simple techniques you can use that are almost sure-fire ways to pick the perfect wine to go with your meal.

While it’s obvious that certain wines go better with certain foods, it also has a lot to do with individual tastes as well. So in addition to using some of the guidelines and techniques we’ll talk about, you can also simply try a variety of wines with different types of foods and decide what combinations are most pleasing to your personal taste buds.

The first trick is probably particularly applicable when it comes to Italian wines, since there are so many distinct regional foods in Italy. It’s not really a trick, but rather a simple rule: Regional wines frequently pair well with regional foods of the same region. So if you are enjoying an eggplant specialty of Southern Italy, you could try pairing it with any of the wines that come from the Southern part of Italy as well, and be fairly sure that they will taste fantastic together. Simple enough, huh?

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You can use many similarities between wines and the food you’re serving to find a good match. For example, very rich tasting foods should be served with a rich wine rather than a light one. You can try pairing similar flavors as well, or go for opposite flavors (like a fruity wine with a rich vegetable dish).

When you’re having wine with dessert, the wine should always be at least as sweet as the dessert. If the dessert is very rich, go for a rich, sweet wine. If it’s a lighter pastry that’s not very sweet, you could go with a lighter wine, but you could also still probably go with a sweeter wine and it would still go well together.
You can use the occasion to guide you as well. If you’re having a picnic in the park, a light, crisp, semi-sweet wine would fit the occasion and probably the foods you’re serving as well. If you’re having a formal dinner, where you’re serving several courses, a richer, full-bodied red wine would more than likely go well. Try matching the intensity or formality of the event with the same level of flavor intensity and richness of the wine.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably shocked to learn that pairing wine can be so simple! It really can be done using little more than some logical reasoning and common sense. But remember, your personal tastes are the ultimate judge, so if something doesn’t agree with your tastes, then it’s not right for your dinner party or event!

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