It's no secret that the right wine can enhance the flavors of your favorite dish. There are hundreds of food and wine possibilities. Below are just a few to get you to thinking about how to pair different foods and wines. These are mere suggestions. Ultimately, wine is a personal preference and always feel free to drink what you love while eating what you love!
Steak and Cabernet Sauvignon
The perfect pairing but why? Cabernet Sauvignon is high in tannin. Tannins are a group of bitter and astringent compounds found in nature. They can be found in bark, leaves, wood, and fruit of plants such as cranberry, tea, and grapes and most known for being in wines. They are the substance that leaves a chalky sensation on your teeth and dyes your mouth dark after drinking. The fat in a steak stands up to tannins and softens their impact, and the meat's bold flavor matches the big, fruity flavor of the wine.
Similar combinations to try: Red meat and red wine are a classic combination. Grilled steak would be delicious with an American red Zinfandel, or a tannic or soft Merlot, while a pan-fried steak pairs well with a fruitier red like an Australian Shiraz, or a California, Oregon or Washington Merlot.
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce (or Meatballs) and Chianti
Tomatoes are acidic. Chianti, which has a bold fruity flavor, also has enough acidity to withstand the tomatoes and the meat. In addition, most people like a little parmesan cheese with their spaghetti and Chianti pairs well with parmesan cheese. As an alternative, Spanish Roja also pairs well with tomato-based sauces.
Indian and Riesling
This spicy cuisine calls for a little sweetness. So, a glass of slightly sweet and low-alcohol wine like a German, New York, or Australian Riesling will help calm some of the spiciness. However, a highly alcoholic wine will have you feeling the burn.
Riesling is also a good choice for spicy Asian or spicy Mexican dishes. For Thai or really spicy Indian dishes, consider a dry Gewurztraminer.
Salmon and Pinot Noir
Typically, white fish is paired with white wine, but salmon is a little different. Salmon’s flavor will stand well against the not so tannic flavor of pinot noir, especially when paired with wine from the same region, i.e. pairing salmon harvested from the pacific northwest area with a pinot noir from that same region.
Pinot Noir also pairs well with other fatty fish like tuna, especially when served rare or raw.
Lamb and Bordeaux
Because of the gamey flavor, lamb shines with a wine that has a rich, bold personality to stand up to it. Bordeaux is bold and fruity, and the fatty richness of the meat helps absorb some of the wine's tannins.
In case you are not familiar with Bordeaux, here’s a quick overview. Red Bordeaux is a red wine that is always made from blending Cabernet Sauvignon wine and Merlot wine together, though the proportion of each depends on the location of the winery that made the wine. Bordeaux wines are produced in the Bordeaux region of the southwest of France. Bordeaux is centered on the city of Bordeaux, on the Garonne River.
“The Perfect Oyster Wine”- Muscadet
San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné called Muscadet "the perfect oyster wine". The moderate alcohol level of Muscadet allows it to complement many types of dishes without overwhelming them. The light, crisp acidity can "cut through" (meaning it stands out against) rich, creamy dishes which can be a refreshing change of pace for the palate. Muscadet is a French white wine. Because of its acidity, this wine heightens the fresh flavor of oysters.
A lightly oaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc also pairs well with oysters along with mussels, clams and white fish like trout.
Stilton and Port- delicious!
You may be wondering what in the world is stilton? Essentially, stilton is a type of blue cheese. According to the Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club, Stilton is milder than Roquefort or Gorgonzola, Stilton has a rich and mellow flavor with a pungent aftertaste. The finest Stilton is creamy with a subtle, yeasty sweetness and a salty, nutty finish. In fact, the way to judge the quality of your Stilton is by how creamy it is, not by how blue it is. Stilton is excellent for crumbling over salads or as a dessert cheese, served with a Port Wine. Be sure to let your Stilton come to room temperature before enjoying it! The salty cheese and the sweet wine contrast beautifully, but both are aged long enough to develop a similar earthy, tawny flavor.
Tip to keep in mind- Serve sweet wines like port, sherry, and Madeira with salty and/or strong cheeses such as Roquefort, Stilton, and other blue or pungent cheeses.
These are just a few wine and food pairings to help you to start becoming aware of the types of foods that can pair well with various types of food.
As always, enjoy!