Food and Wine Matching
While it is true to say that taste is terribly subjective, and very personal, it is also important to realise that some guidelines will allow you to enjoy some pairings more than others – there really are some matches made in heaven!
Matching wines to food requires getting the balance right. Weight is important, as a big, heavy wine will overpower a light, elegant dish, and vice versa. Acidity in a wine, red or white, helps to cut through the fat or oiliness of a dish – for example Italian reds are masters of olive-oil rich dishes, dry Riesling also being a versatile ‘food’ wine. Tannins, that mouth-drying element that can make tasting a youthful red difficult on its own, are smoothed out by a food as the tannins cling to the proteins, not your mouth. Yet without having tannin, a red wine can struggle to have any presence, any density when you drink it – so tannin is often crucial to enjoying the partnership.
Sauces and Salt
Salt tends to enhance flavours, particularly whites, sparkling wines and sweet whites – think Sauternes with a salty blue cheese or salty snacks with champagne, but often it is the overall flavour of the food that drives the connection. A piece of plain grilled fish is a different proposition when covered in a satay sauce, with the former being light and delicate (ditto the wine) while the latter needs a nutty, heavier partner. By extension, a plain steak brings a different flavour to a peppered steak, and hence our suggestions should be tried with the principle flavour in the dish.
A word on cheese: while a piece of cheese with a glass of good wine is a wonderful thing… not all cheeses taste the same! Hence not all cheeses fit perfectly with one wine – and that of course is not ideal for the traditional british cheeseboard. The best ‘all-rounder’ may often be an oaked white, but many people at dinner have moved on to red by the time the board comes out. The best solution is to have a bottle of sweet hanging about for anything very salty (blue or hard strong cheddar) and don’t go for anything too flavoured that will kill off your prize red.
You will notice that each wine on our website has a matching suggestion reflecting our own experiences of the wines with certain dishes. However we would encourage you to be bold, and if you come up with a ‘marriage made in heaven’ please write a review on the website and share your thoughts. In summary don’t get overly hung up about perfect matches, and disasters are few and far between!