Food and Wine Matching
‘A meal without wine is like day without sunshine’
The Physiology of Taste 1825
Food and wine matching doesn’t have to be complicated or involve expensive wines and Michelin starred cookery. But with a little planning even the simplest of dishes can be enhanced. However using some basic principles you can enhance both the food and the wine. The key principle is balance, so try to balance the flavour of the wine with the flavour of the dish.
Seasonal Food and Wine Matching
If you would like some ideas on food and wine matching throughout the seasons please Click Here for some great suggestions on wines to pair with food in-season. Great ideas to indulge yourself!
Follow our Food and Wine Matching Guide to help find some great pairings...
Consider how the dish was prepared in the kitchen. Was it lightly poached or steamed? Was it grilled? Was it roasted, braised or sautéed? Know your ingredients and try as much as possible to taste the dishes you are serving, try to remember the key flavours.
Intensity and Flavours
It’s all about balance so try to match the flavour and intensity of the wine to the dish. Serve light bodied wines with lighter more delicate food and fuller bodied wines with richer fuller flavoured dishes. Where possible try to match flavours, an earthy Pinot Noir like our Vincent Girardin Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes will go really well with Mushroom Soup, the citrus flavours in Sauvignon Blanc such as our Babich, Marlborough 2011 'Black Label' Sauvignon Blanc goes well with fish in the same way that lemon does. Spicy Food suits spicy wines, Gewurztraminer, Shiraz, or try Pinot Gris such as our Tamar Ridge, Australian 'Devils Corner' Pinto Gris with spicy chicken, delicious!
For example, a squeeze of lemon, vinaigrette, tartare sauce, capers, tomatoes will all need a wine with some acidity to balance out the flavours. ie. Classic cut of Chablis, the Chenin Blanc grape is naturally high in acidity. Try our South African Isonto Chenin Blanc.
It is important to get to know the ingredients of each dish and which flavours dominate. Even though the dish is a fish or chicken dish for example if the sauce is the dominant flavour then you should match the wine with the sauce. A creamy buttery sauce works well with a richer, creamy wine. Light and delicate sauces require light and delicate wines. However a full wine with good depth of flavour is called for when you have red wine reductions or full spicy sauces.
Smoke Needs Oak
Smoked dishes have a stronger flavour which is complemented by oak aged wines. Rather than a light Chablis with smoked salmon try an oaked Chardonnay. Try our Maison Louis Latour Grand Ardeche Chardonnay, it has a touch of oak which will match perfectly.
Side Dishes and Seasoning
What’s the dominant flavour on the plate? It’s often a side dish or seasoning and that is the flavour you need to match. So while a plate of fresh unadorned prawns will be lovely with a light Muscadet, our Chateau de la Jousseliniere, Clos de Chapelle Muscadet would complement this very well. If you stir fry the prawns with some chilli and garlic try a spicy Gewurtztraminer such as our Domaine Schlumberger Gewurztraminer 'Fleur' it has a long spicy finish which would be the perfect partner to the chilli prawns. Similarly for Christmas lunch the dominant flavour is rarely the turkey and more likely to be the stuffing. So try a spicy Shiraz or rich Rioja with turkey and trimmings. Our Vina Palacieca, Rioja Reserva would work very well with its rich and spicy aromas and flavours.
Anyone for Pudding?
Matching pudding can be a bit of a minefield as you need equal levels of sweetness in the wine and dish. Try a sticky toffee pudding or treacle tart with a rich, sticky Rutherglen Muscat. A crème brulee is crying out for Sauternes. Alternatively some wines go extremely well with cheese; a sliver of Yorkshire Blue with a glass of chilled Sauternes, sublime…
Wines worst Enemies
A few foods can flatten wine – artichokes, chillies, oysters, kippers, salsas and vinegars. When choosing wine with these foods the general rule for reds is to avoid tannic reds and go for young juicy wines instead or when choosing white wines go for whites with plenty of fruit and fresh acidity.
These can be difficult to match with wine – depending on the dominance of the dish I would generally choose a light unoaked chardonnay or neutral white wine, try Babich East Coast Unoaked Chardonnay. For red wines go with only light reds, Beaujolais, Fleurie, Pinot Noirs. Our Fleurie, Vieilles Vignes Potel Aviron is very light and subtle and and would match well with an egg based dish.