Pairing Food and Wine 0 982


As any good sommelier would tell you, matching the best wine to fine food is less of a science and more of an art. Trinbagonians are not considered to be heavy wine drinkers as we tend to be more of a cocktail, rum, scotch and beer culture. However over the past few years there has been a notable increase in the number of wine consumers, but more weighted toward women and people within certain socio-economic brackets.

Also, local companies like Brydens, AMCO and HADCO have been instrumental in educating the public on wines and helping to create this niche market. The fine dining restaurants have also been instrumental in driving this and the hotels and resorts, of course catering largely to tourists, are some of the biggest wine customers in the country.

Now, T&T is known and respected for being one of the Caribbean’s premier cuisine centres and we enjoy a wide and wonderful range of foods that cater to every palate. For  a connoisseur however pairing wines with food is a real challenge as many factors must be considered when makingthe right choice. But rest assured people, that it isn’t difficult if we understand the basic principles involved in making it a truly enjoyable dining experience. To make your food and wine pairing memorable, start with a versatile wine — one that agrees with a wide range of foods — and things won’t go far wrong. Then consider a handful of taste, texture, and aromatic elements, and you may just find some magic.

Follow these suggestions and you’ll be a little closer to food and wine harmony.

 1) Match weight with weight. Serve dry, light-bodied, low alcohol wines with light dishes (raw/fresh, crunchy, low fat, and high acid). Serve full-bodied, ripe, high alcohol, creamy-textured wines with heavy foods (including foods that contain a lot of dairy or animal fat, protein, rich sauces, and so on).

2) Serve high acid wines with high acid foods. For example, serve a dry Riesling, tart Sauvignon Blanc, or zesty Sangiovese with salads dressed with vinaigrette, goat’s cheese, tomato based dishes, and such.

3) Avoid tannic wines with fatty/oily fish. For example, avoid a big, chewy Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec with mackerel, cod, salmon, or any other fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

4) Soften tannic wines with salty, fatty, protein-rich foods. Tannic wines are astringent and mouthpuckering, so a protein-rich food, such as well marbled beef properly seasoned with salt softens the astringency sensation.

5) Serve salty foods with high acid wines. For example, serve Gamay (such as Beaujolais) or Barbera from Northern Italy with cured meats, or Italian Pinot Grigio with anything containing soy sauce.

6) Serve off-dry or sweet wines with slightly sweet or sweet foods. Remember: The wine should always be as sweet or sweeter than what’s on the plate.

7) With steak/ red meat in general use a drier more aged red wine like a Merlot or blend like a Chiraz.

8) With poultry, namely the ‘white’ meat, pair a sweeter, fruitier wine, mid-ranged that will compliment the sauces over the meat e.g. Sauvignon Blanc/ Chardonnay. For the ‘dark’ meat, a Pinot Noir or a Zinfandel would be great.

9) For fish, a dry, white wine would really ‘pop’ its flavours and for shellfish, due to the pungent flavour, a mid sweet wine with white sauce or a rose wine with a tomato based sauce would go nicely.

10) Now we are a nation that likes its spicy foods, and very spicy foods can ruin the enjoyment of wine (or anything else you drink alongside), but mildly spicy foods can be paired effectively. When your dishes include a lot of spice, follow these tips to ensure you find a pairing that works:

  • Choose low-moderate alcohol, off-dry or sweet wines. These wines lessen the burn.
  • Serve wines (even red wines) chilled. Cool liquids provide some temporary temperature relief.
  • Select ripe, fruity, higher alcohol wines that have the body and implicitly sweet fruit flavor to handle spice. Because capsaicin, the compound responsible for the burn in peppers/chillies, is soluble in alcohol, choose wines up to 14 percent alcohol. Wines with alcohol higher than 14 percent increase the burn, however.
  • Avoid really oaky, tannic wines. Spice exaggerates oaky flavours, and tannins become more astringent and mouth-drying, neither of which are positive changes.

11) And finally for deserts, use a ‘sweet ice wine’ or a port wine that will not only be smooth but help digestion. So there you have it – a few tips, tricks and guidelines in pairing wine with food. We hope that you find it useful and recommend it to your friends and families. Just don’t try drinking wine while ‘wining’ at a fete, you might find it more than intoxicating!



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