Wines are probably the best drink you can serve with food and there are 2 familiar ways to food matching. One is to do it in such a way as to create a complimentary effect and the second would be to create a contrast effect. The deciding factor in the pairing process is the ‘weight’ of the food and the ‘body’ of the wine.
The various ingredients going into the food like the sauces and spices constitute its weight. It is the alcohol content as well as the dissolved solids and tannins present that determine the body of the wine. A safe or traditional approach would be to match a light dish like poached fish with a delicate white wine. On the other hand if the fish is prepared in a creamy white sauce a full bodied white or even a light red would compliment it.
Experimenting and Discovering Striking Combinations
For a long time, this complimentary approach was followed diligently and it was only during the 80’s that people started experimenting with tastes. Soon food and wine so very diverse from each other were brought together like Sauvignon Blanc with an acidic after taste paired with some fish in creamy lemon sauce. Wine connoisseurs are of the opinion that there’s no need to get hung up on color either; there’s no hard and fast rule that red wine goes only with red meats.
A truly splendid wine that can be used to create a contrasting effect in food matching is the Muscat wine. It is a versatile variety that drinks well with complex and exotic tastes of Indian and Chinese cuisine. Try it with a sweet concoction like a crepe suzette or a pecan pie, ice cream etc. Its compatibility extends to other delicacies like oysters, herrings, and asparagus too. But the best combination would be along with goat cheese.
Cheese is another food item that sits well with wine. Depending upon the kind of cheese used the taste of the wine varies accordingly. Cheddar cheese which is quite hard in texture can soften the tannins in wine and make them lighter. This way, a fuller and fruitier flavor is derived. Another combination is the salty stilton cheese with a sweet port wine which is actually an age old European custom.
Tomatoes which are used as a base in many a cuisine, carry a tannic taste which is difficult to pair with wines. In case the wine chosen carries an equally tannic flavor the result would be overwhelming. Try a rose wine instead which is bound to sit well. Though contrasting tastes are normally palatable, food matching a dry wine to a sweet dish would be a disaster. Sweet wines on the other hand can take the burning sensation left on the tongues from spicy hot Asian cuisine and in fact bring out the sweetness hidden in such food as in the case of sweet and sour sauces.