Wine and Food: Four Questions That Will Help You Get It Right

There are some basic wine and food pairing rules that will help you mix together the right combination of flavors that will improve your dining experience. A great wine pairing can make your dining memorable and a wrong combination can contribute to a poor dining experience. Of the basic wine and food pairing rules, the number one rule is for you to remember is to pick a wine that you will enjoy. If you really have a preference for white wines versus red wines, then its okay for you to choose your favorite type of wine with your meal.

To choose the right wine for dining, consider these four questions.

When you are thinking of which kind of wine to order, keep in mind the following four questions. (1) What is the main dish? Is it chicken, beef, or fish? (2) Will it be grilled, oven-baked, fried, or pan-fried? (3) What kind of sauce will it be served with and what are its flavors? (4) What are the sides dishes and how will their flavors impact the wine? Today there are so many different types of wine that the old favorite rule of wine and food pairing may not always apply. But until you feel comfortable in making the right choice, stick to these basics: red wines with beef, and white wines with fish and poultry.

Think “wine power,” when choosing your wines.

Generally speaking, red wines will work best with dishes that are rich, heavy and have a big flavor. When choosing a beef dish, you should consider the powerful strength of beef and choose a wine that has equal power. This rule also is effective for dishes that are served in rich, thick, heavy, full-of-herbs types of sauces. The reason why red wines and beef goes well together is that red wines contains tannins which mixes with proteins, allowing the flavors to blend well together. As a rule, white wines and red meats do not work well together, because white wine lacks tannins that enables this flavorful combination to occur.

White wines are better suited for light foods, such as grilled halibut (fish-type dishes) or chicken breast (poultry-type dishes) grilled or pan-fried in a light sauce. Color and aromatic flavors influence taste and lighter wines will complement the meal and not overpower the flavors of the food. Even in light types of foods, the type of sauce that is paired with the dish can influence the taste of the wine with the food. If the poultry was cooked in a heavy, thick sauce, or a spicy flavored sauce like paprika or full-of-herbs type of sauce, then it would be better served with a more powerful fuller-bodied red wine or perhaps a Rose or a spicy flavored wine.

Choose more than one wine with a multiple course meal.

To truly experience the proper pairing of wines with a multiple course dinner, you should pair your wines to the many courses of the meal. It would be difficult for one wine to work well with every dish because of the variety of flavors. If possible, choose a wine that is appropriate for the appetizer or first course, and then change the wine for the main dish, and then change the wine again for the dessert choice.

Traditionally, you would start off with a lighter wine before drinking the more full-bodied types of wines. Wines that is high in acid works well with most foods. Wines that have low acid can often be overwhelmed even with foods that are light in taste. Acidic wines that you would not drink alone can be quite wonderful when paired with the right food choice. The following examples of going from light to more full-bodied wines are: White Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewrztraminer and Chardonnay. And among reds, from lighter to fuller: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

You are always right, when you chose a wine that you like.

Remember the four questions guideline when deciding which wines to chose with your meal. Until you are comfortable in making off the menu wine choices, it’s okay to ask your server what they would recommend for your selected dish. They should be able to provide you with three to four appropriate wine recommendations in varying price ranges that should work well with your meal. For some reason, if you get a bad glass or bad bottle of wine, feel comfortable in sending it back. When it comes to choosing a wine with your meal, the most important wine rule to follow is to choose a wine that you know you like.