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Finding a Perfect Match: Red Wine and Food

by Sophie (follow)
Beverages (11)      Articles (69)      Wine (5)     
The first step in choosing what wine to pair with your food is to identify the dominant taste of your dish. It may not be the main ingredient; consider the dish as a whole - is it sweet, acidic, rich and heavy, bitter, or light?

For example, the dominant flavour in sole fillet with cream sauce won’t be the fish, but the cream. Once you get that, apply the principle that 'like attracts like'. That is, you should pair the same tastes together.

Sweet food sweet wine
Sweet wines goes well with sweet food, Brian - Flickr

So, if you are having sweet foods, you can have sweet red wines, like Port. Otherwise, sweet food with dry wine will accentuate the bitter tannins of the wine.

Likewise, you would combine acidic foods with acidic wines, and rich foods with rich wines. By rich food we mean heavy, meaty meals, and by rich wines we mean bold wines that give a bitter, dry-mouth feeling, or wines with a lot of tannins. If you combine a light meal with a rich wine, or vice versa, they will be off-balance and the richer taste will prevail. It won’t necessarily spoil the taste of wine, but it is better to pair light with light and rich with rich.

Sweet food sweet wine
Lighter red wines with raw served food, Don LaVange - Flickr

Lighter red wines will go well with leaner cuts and red meats that are served closer to the raw form. For example, you can have beef and venison tartare, eye of round steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast, bottom round roast, top sirloin and lamb gyros with wines like Cinsault, Pinot Noir, Gamay, St. Laurent, or Zweigelt.

Sweet food sweet wine
Medium red wines goes great with dishes that have multiple ingredients, Taz - Flickr

Medium red wines combine best with dishes that have multiple ingredients and tastes combined. Dishes like bolognese sauce, beef stew, tomato-based dishes, lasagna, hamburgers, Indian lamb curry and nachos can be combined with the following wines:

Cabernet Franc
Valpolicella Wines

Sweet food sweet wine
Bold red wines are a perfect match to barbecue, Taz - Flickr

Bold red wines are a perfect match to steaks, chops, and barbecue because high amounts of tannin in bold red wines act nicely to dissolve fattiness from the inside of our mouth. The wines you can choose from are:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Petite Sirah
Nero d’Avola

They will match hanger steak, filet mignon, porterhouse steak, skirt steak, New York strip, and T-bone steak very well.

Here are some examples of red wine and food pairings that work best, in our opinion:

Barbera with lasagne with pesto, chicken casserole or spaghetti bolognese (any Italian tomato-based dish actually)
Cabernet Sauvignon with roast lamb or beef fillet
Gamay with BBQ sauce ribs, griddled veggies or spicy sausages
Malbec with grilled steak or steak pie
Merlot with Christmas turkey, roast chicken or roast duck
Pinot Noir with any cheese, roast lamb or turkey
Pinotage with BBQ steak, grilled skewers and sausages
Sangiovese with pasta and pizza
Syrah/Shiraz with mushrooms and roasted vegetables
Tempranillo with vegetarian dishes; also roast lamb and thyme chicken

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