Europe Hotels Articles

July 5, 2010

Food & wine: How to pair the right wine with your meal

Selecting the best wines to serve with a meal can seem like a complicated task, but you don’t have to be a connoisseur to get it right. With a little guidance and background knowledge, you can master the art in no time.

The skill of matching wine and food puts you in complete control of your dining experience. There are many varieties of wine available and the first step is to familiarize yourself with some basic principles:

1. White and red wines have many shared qualities – they can be buttery, leathery, spicy or floral. However, the flavors which show up in whites and red can be very different.

The citrus and apple flavors prevalent in white wines rarely show up in reds and the cherry and currant flavors you can discover in a red wine would not normally appear in a white.

2. It is important to strike the right balance of “weight” between food and wine, so that one doesn’t overpower the other.

For example, a heavy red wine would completely overpower delicate white fish. Conversely, a thick meaty stew needs a strong wine a light white wine would not make enough impact.

3. It sounds like a cliche to match Pasta with an Italian Red wine, but in fact you can’t go too far wrong when you match food and wine from the same region.

In Europe, food and wine matches have developed over hundreds of years and make perfect combinations.

4. Tannin has a bitter taste and is well matched with foods which are also bitter, such as meat or spinach. Bitter foods are best when matched with a red wine, rather than contrasted.

5. Saltiness is a taste you will want to contrast. Port and Cheese is a timeless combination, as the salty cheese is countered by the sweetness of the drink. Any wine with a fruity-sweet flavor will work well for this purpose.


Before we take a look at specific food and wine matches, consider the qualities of some popular wines:

Chardonnay: Dry, medium to full-bodied.

Semillon: Dry white, medium bodied.

Sauvignon Blanc: Dry, light to medium bodied.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Dry, medium to full-bodied, tannic.

Merlot: Dry, medium to full-bodied, less tannic than Cabernet.

Traminer: Semi-sweet, light to medium bodied.

Riesling: Semi-sweet or off-dry, light to medium bodied.

Rose: Sweet red, light bodied.

Shiraz: Medium to full bodied

Pinot Noir: Dry, medium to light-bodied, slightly tannic, silky texture.

Brut: Dry

Blanc de Noir: Dry, more fruity than Brut as it

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