Choosing the right wine for the right occasion can often be a difficult task. Finding that right balance between the ingredients on the plate and the complexity in a glass of wine seems daunting for most. Thankfully, it’s not as hard as you would expect. The key? Thinking of the wine as one more ingredient. Wine should be used to add or contrast to a dish, and here’s how.
Knowing The Flavors
The best way to know what you’re pairing your wine with, is to understand the flavors of the ingredients. Making a salad? Try one of the tomatoes, or bite one of the leafy greens by themselves. Try to think about if your food is bitter like the greens, acidic like the tomato, or even salty and fatty like steak. All food is a combination of certain types of flavors. Once you figure the flavors out, the rest becomes easy.
Once you’ve figured out the flavors of the dish, then comes the wine selection. There is the Congruent Method and the Contrasting Method. The Congruent Method is essentially finding complementary flavors in food. Flavors that go with each other like are incredibly important for this concept. For instance, taking a dish that is fresh, bright, and easy on the stomach and pairing it with a white, rose, or sparkling wine, which is high in acid and relatively sweeter. A heavy meal with fruity sauce, would go with a heavy and fruity wine. This would be something similar to a Pinot Noir or Merlot.
The Contrasting Method is essentially the opposite. Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack would say the flavors would contrast each other in order to highlight their differences. When fish is served with rich butter, an acidic and refreshing white wine, rose, or sparkling wine, would cut through the richness to almost counter each other. It’s one of the many reasons that blue cheese is often served with many kinds of red wines. The bitterness and fruitful flavors of the wine will cut through the ferment of the blue cheese.
This may seem all complicated but you get to make the ultimate decision. If you prefer rich and gooey mac & cheese with a red wine, go for it! If you want sparkling wine with your steak, go for it! Ultimately, it’s your meal and you can enjoy it any way you want.
Interested in host your own wine pairing session, or even participating in a food tasting event to better understand flavors? Contact us to find a kitchen space or our Event Room, and connect with us on Twitter.