Food matching can be done by taking into consideration the acidity, sweetness, bitterness and alcohol in a wine. These properties of wines are determined by various factors and when pairing food according to these characteristics of a wine we have to know about these factors.
Wine and food matching is done mainly to achieve a balance between the two and this can be done only if they compliment each other. Basically the wine should highlight the unique flavors and tastes of the food and vice versa. Neither the food nor the wine should overwhelm each other. The following guidelines should help in choosing the right wine for a particular food according to the basic properties:
- Acidity: An acidic wine will be most appropriate with a dish that contains lemon, tomatoes or vinegar. A light sweet wine will do for dishes with just a hint of sourness. But really acidic dishes can only be complemented with a heavy and acidic white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or any of the sparkling wines which too are quite acidic. The acid in the wine also reduces the saltiness in food. This makes these wines ideal as accompaniments with fish.
- Sweetness:All wines have some sugar in them after fermentation. This is called Residual Sugar and it gives a wine its sweet taste. The percentage of residual sugar varies in different wines. A wine with less sugar is called a Dry wine and those with higher sugar content are the sweet wines. Chenin Blanc and Rieslings are sweet white wines and Port, Sherry, Madeira and Ice Wine are sweet red wines. These wines could not be paired with sweet dishes. The best food to go with sweet wine, are the spicy foie gras or seafood with lots of cream sauces. Asian dishes like Indian curries can also be paired with wines which are moderately sweet.
- Bitterness: Tannins from the skins and stems of grapes and the effect of oak barrels are responsible for the bitter taste in a wine. This occurs in some red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Syrah. The food matching these wines helps to negate the bitter taste and include the more salty and sour dishes. Asparagus with its bitter taste and astringency makes an ideal match for bitter wines. Bitter wines with high tannin content are great with steak which has a high protein and fat content.
- Alcohol: A wine gets its body and weight from alcohol. A full bodied wine is one which has comparatively high alcohol content. Gewurztraminer is a white wine with high alcohol content which complements rich Asian food with lots of tomatoes and spices and rich pork preparations. Shiraz is a great match very peppery venison and lamb dishes. Foods with heavy cream sauces can also be paired with wines containing more alcohol. Wines with very low alcohol should be paired with light, simply prepared dishes.
To make this wine and food matching procedure effective remember that acid goes with acid and also reduces saltiness, fish and tannin hate each other, sweet likes sweet and alcohol with spice makes sparks fly.