Wine and food matching is a recent culinary phenomenon which has almost become an art today. Since ancient times people of different cultures paired local wines with local food. This has gradually evolved into a stage where you will find a specialist called a sommelier in many restaurants who can guide you to select the right wine for the food you order.
Tastes differ from person to person and there cannot be a definite rule for drinking only a particular wine with a particular cuisine. Yet there are certain guidelines of wine and food matching, that have been developed by wine connoisseurs, by following which you can greatly enhance your dining experience.
Food Matching with Sparkling Wine
The basic bubbly texture of light sparkling wines like Champagne makes them ideal matches for a variety of foods. A sparkling wine complements the taste of many cheese varieties like Baby Swiss, European Brie and mild Cheddar cheese. It also goes very well with all types of salads, seafood appetizers like raw oysters, sushi, foie gras and some mushroom starters.
Wine and food matching reaches great heights when a light sparkling wine like Champagne is served with a light main course—one with no creamy sauces, like a seafood dish of lobsters or shrimps or a light chicken preparation. Light desserts like strawberries are also complemented by Champagne.
Food Matching with White Wines
Experts in the art of food matching suggest a strategy that serves very well in selecting the right wine to complement a certain food. This strategy pairs the wine and food according to their weights. So a light wine will anytime go better with a light dish while for heavy dishes with spices and cream sauces, a heavy wine will be a better combination.
Light white wines like Riesling, unoaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Muscat are very good with seafood like lobsters, shrimps or trout. They also complement chicken dishes and veal cooked in light creamy sauces. These wines should be avoided with spicy foods and sweets.
The slightly heavier wines like Pinot Gris are best served with turkey or veal with lots of creamy sauces. Spicy Asian foods, foods with a lot of tomatoes or ginger should ideally be paired with Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, White Burgundy or Oak-aged Chardonnay. These wines also go with pork dishes, foie gras and Swiss cheese but are strictly forbidden with light dishes.
Food Matching with Red Wines
Red wines are normally heavier than white wines but there are some light and medium red wines which complement light foods. Certain varieties of cheese like Brie and Camembert go very well with Burgundy, Cabernet or Beaujolais. A soup can be accompanied by a glass of Merlot, while pasta and noodles should be combined with light red wines like Pinot Noir.
Shiraz is excellent with foods with lots of pepper and combines beautifully with venison and lamb. Hot and spicy Indian food needs a sweet wine like Sherry or any other dessert wine to go with it. Heavily creamed food goes best with wines like Bordeaux. Port wine is best served after dinner and like most red wines combines excellently with chocolate.
These are not conclusive methods of combining wine and food but are merely suggestions to guide you. You can freely try out different combinations and do your own wine and food matching.