Please think outside the bottle! Play with new ideas to figure out what tickles your palate best. Get creative and let your imagination run free. There really are no food and wine pairing rules, only guidelines because there is a huge variation in personal preferences when it comes to flavors. What might seem like the “perfect pairing” to one person may be ordinary or not the bomb to another! Pairings should take into account the preferences of the individuals and the basic interactions of food and wine.
The general rule of thumb when pairing wine with food is that white wine goes with fish, and red wine with red meat. If you’re a new drinker, then it’s not a bad rule to follow, but for (almost) every rule there are exceptions, especially in the culinary world.
So, here are some basic rules from a couple of vintners to help guide you along the way.
1) Sweetness in Food
So you know that champagne toast with your wedding cake you envisioned? BIG MISTAKE! Sweetness in food increases the perception of bitterness and alcohol in the wine and it decreases the body and fruitiness. The sweetness from the cake will make the dry champagne taste bitter and awful. Try a Sauternes desert wine instead. Its a sweet wine with great acidity that will compliment your cake perfectly!
2) Acidity in Food
The McBride Sisters have a serious problem when it comes to goat cheese … we eat absurd quantities because it’s so decadent and delicious. It happens to be quite acidic which increases the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness of wine and decreases the perception of acidity. So what do you drink with it? Goat cheese pairs perfectly with the passion fruit, peach, gooseberry and grapefruit flavors of our Sauvignon Blanc (shameless plug). This is probably one of our favorite food and wine pairings
3) Salt in Food
Fried chicken and champagne are a match made in heaven! We believe that may actually be a quote in the bible (don’t hold us to that). The saltiness from the chicken increases the perception of body in the wine and decreases the perception of bitterness. The chicken makes the wine taste more fruity, rich and less acidic. This is one of those “drop the mic” pairings, that’s hard to beat.
4) Bitterness in Food
The idea of wine and chocolate seem so right together (like your high school boyfriend), yet are so disastrously wrong (ditto). Bitterness increases bitterness in the wine. The sweetness of the chocolate intensifies the bitterness of the tannins and decreases the fruitiness and body of the red wine. So how do we solve this? Try peanut butter cups and a tawny port, the creaminess and sugar from the peanut butter cups will mix perfectly with the berry flavors from the port. Just think peanut butter and jelly … bomb right?
5) Chili Heat in Food
Trying to figure outa wine that would pair perfectly with a spicy Pad Thai? Chili heat increases the perception of bitterness, alcohol and acidity in wine and decreases the perception of body, richness, sweetness and fruitiness. This is a tough one, but Riesling has got you covered, no worries! All the great fruit flavors and a little sweetness from a nice off-dry Riesling is your answer and pairs perfectly. Add curries and anything else for that matter with chili spice onto your list of foods to pair with an off-dry Riesling.
Now that you have the general guidelines, tell us…what are some of your favorite food and wine pairings?