Accompanying dishes with a wine that can enhance their aromas and flavors is a bit of art and a bit of science. Here are some rules to start orienting yourself in the magical world of food-wine pairing.
Pairing food and wine is an exercise of great charm and satisfaction. Although the ingredient of imagination is always a must, there are guidelines to keep in mind to achieve a harmonious result: a reference framework that can be adapted to taste. The objective is always one: to obtain interesting and pleasant sensations from the pairing. If we want, the question is mathematical: food and wine together must lead to greater satisfaction than the sum of the two elements alone.
How to pair food and wine: knowing their characteristics
1. First of all, it is important to know well the main characteristics of your dish (tendency towards sweetness, acidity or bitterness, flavour, spiciness, succulence, fattiness, type of cooking...) and the wines to match (flavour, acidity, sweetness, structure, softness…).
Pairing food and wine: concordance
Then, we start playing a game on two tables :
2. Structure and intensity of the food must be reflected in that of the wine on the same level (principle of concordance or analogy ). If we want, it is also a matter of common sense: a delicate dish should be accompanied by a light wine, structured and tasty dishes require a wine of equally great structure, food rich in aromas requires a wine equally rich in aromas. So that the two elements are valorised without one prevailing.
Pairing food and wine: contrast
3. But, at the same time, the most contemporary trend is to focus on the contrast regarding all the other characteristics of the food (fattiness, flavor, pungency, acidity, sweet or salty tendency): the principle is that if a dish has an excess of some sensations, the wine must attenuate them. Practically a tug of war. Here are therefore fatty dishes together with wines of good acidity, savory foods with soft wines, dishes with abundant liquids accompanied by tannic wines that give an astringent effect, soft dishes with fresh wines, long-matured cheeses with very soft wines and, on the contrary , acidic foods with soft wines.
Pairing food and wine: rules to know
And then there are some CLASSIC PRINCIPLES to keep in mind, especially if you are new to the kitchen (which does not mean that they cannot be subverted with satisfaction):
- In the succession of a lunch, the rule of crescendo progression (in structure and intensity) is a good rule, both for food and for wine; alternatively, if you like it, there is a counterpoint technique, which involves alternating a structured dish with a more delicate one. And the wine follows the alternation;
- Sweets and desserts should be accompanied by sweet wines ;
- The " territorial " pairings (food and wine from the same region) are very satisfying: there is an intimate bond between the wines and the food from the same land, and it is difficult for the great classics of the cellar and cuisine of a place they are bad together;
- If some dishes are particularly difficult to accompany, because they are bitter or too light, the combination can be created by exploiting the properties of sauces and condiments ;
- Fish is perfect with white wine, but if the flavor of the dish is strong and full, also due to the seasonings, and you want to go outside the box, try it with rosé or red wines, more or less delicate...
For everything else, unleash your creativity.
The flavor of a food almost always discovers the qualities of a wine and enhances them; in turn the qualities of a wine complete the pleasure of a food and spiritualize it...