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Ivan’s Food and Wine Pairing Secrets

The rules and guidelines for wine and food pairing are subjective and often contradictory. Over the years a lot of rules, basic and not, have been developed. We forgot the golden rule: personal preference is what makes wine work its magic. There is no need to remember pairings between sophisticated dishes and sophisticated wines.

Instead, don’t fall for these 3 myths and you will enjoy wine and food pairings at their best!

Well-known metaphors…

“Red wine with red meat” and “light wines with light dishes”. Heard it before? These are the most known metaphors in food and wine pairing. Indeed, most of the time they work well.

That said, pairing Gamay with a juicy steak won’t show either at their best. An off-dry Pinot Gris will not be the best option for a Chicken Supreme.

Juicy, tasty steak

The message here is simple: these metaphors don’t always work. One of the best ways to avoid these is to think about what king of food is eaten where the wine is produced. For example, Cahors in France is famous for intense Malbec-based wines. This wine is an exceptional pair to the local light trout speciality. Red wine and fish? Who knew.

For best results add Loire wines.
For best results add Loire wines.

The Loire Valley in France is famous for cheese and white wines which go well with them. Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé are superb options to complement delicate goats cheese.

Sweet, sour, bitter and salty…

A little biology lesson from school: our tongue is divided into 4 zones – sweet, sour, bitter and salty. This is not the entire picture. One more taste that our tongue can pick up is umami.

Umami is a taste of glutamates. One of the best ways to describe it is to think of the taste of sushi seaweed. This taste has a great knock on effect on the food and wine pairings. Most of day-to-day foods contain umami. Mushrooms, for example, are umami taste bombs.

To avoid disappointment in pairing wines with umami foods remember this advice:

Umami does not get along with oak flavours. Try to avoid high priced white chardonnays when eating a lot of umami flavor products. Instead, pick lighter wines.

Caution: Do not pair with hot spice or umami.
Caution: Do not pair with hot spice or umami.

Heavily tannic wine is also not good with umami. That’s why older Bordeaux is a popular match with hard cheeses; with time, tannin softens. Try drinking young claret with sweet and sour chicken, though, and you’ll enjoy neither!

Intense fruity wines are also to be avoided with umami. Instead, Alsace Pinot Blanc, Loire Muscadet or Umbria Orvieto will pair with umami dishes at their best.

The sweeter the better…

Many people like to drink fruitier and sweeter styles of wine. Which is, by the way, absolutely fine, just think about a rich German Riesling. Yet, in food and wine pairing sweeter is not better. Sweeter styles of wine are hard to pair and these are definitely not an option for a lamb steak.

If you do enjoy sweeter wines and maybe even like to order a glass of dessert wine, pair it with pudding. They also work well with spicier dishes, such as Thai or Asian. Richer, full-bodied sweet wine also has the body and acidity to complement rich paté.

If you need some tips on food and wine matching, just ask one of our staff in store. Join us for a free in-store wine course and learn all about the mysteries of food and wine matching!

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