Why pair food with wine?
Synergy is the ultimate objective—the wine and food combine
to create a totally new and superior gastronomic effect. On the
flip side -- a poor wine pairing can destroy the flavor of the
wine and lessen the overall dining experience. Simply remember
that wine should always compliment the food and not dominate it.
of Wine Pairing
paired with food for centuries. Although wine making may go back
as far as 8000 years ago, recent archaeological
finds place the origins of wine making (in large scale) to
4100 B.C. In early times wine was paired with food since it was
safer to drink than local water supply.
The main objective
to wine pairing with food is to enhance the dining experience.
In many cultures winemaking and culinary experiences evolved over
many years. Many pairings that are considered "classics" today
are the result of a region's cuisine and wine growing up and merging
together in. In Italy one rarely dines without wine and a region's
wine is known to be "food friendly" to match the areas cuisine.
Many old wine adages such as "White wine with fish; Red wine
with meat" are no longer observed.
nature of taste makes it possible to drink most any kind of wine
with any kind of food and have an enjoyable experience.
thing to consider in pairing is your own preference, as drinking
a type of wine you don’t care for isn’t going to be a pleasure
(even if it’s “the perfect pairing” with your broiled grouper).
this excellent video where Eric Ripert chef of 3 star Michelin
Le Bernardin demonstrates how wine drinking is so subjective see:
goes with everything.
The Science of Taste
Scientists describe seven basic tastes: bitter,
salty, sour, astringent, sweet, pungent (e.g., chili), and
umami. There are however five basic tastes that the tongue
is sensitive to: salt, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. There
are also reports of a sixth taste-- fats. The taste buds
for these are distributed throughout the tongue. The old
notion that a map of the tongue exists with tastes located
in different regions was proven wrong many years ago.
Read more about the science of taste:
the Five or Six Basic Tastes
Basis of Taste
The Science of Wine Aroma
It is through the aromas
of wine that we actually taste the wine. The wide array
of fruit, earthy, floral, herbal, mineral and woodsy flavor
perceived in wine are derived from aroma notes interpreted
by the olfactory bulb. Within
wine there are volatile and non-volatile compounds that
contribute to the make up of a wine's aroma. Read
more about the science of Wine Aroma
Sugars, Acids, Oak and Alcohol Play a Major Role in Food and Wine
About the Acid Taste in Wine
In wine tasting, the term “acidity”
refers to the fresh, tart and sour attributes of the wine
which is evaluated in relation to how well the acidity balances
out the sweetness and bitter components of the wine such
There are three primary acids found in
wine grapes: tartaric, malic and citric. The major acids of
wine are tartaric and malic. Citric acid is considered a minor
acid is, from a winemaking The
principal acids of wine are tartaric and malic.perspective,
the most important in wine due to the prominent role it
plays in maintaining the chemical stability of the wine
and its color and finally in influencing the taste of the
--most often associated with
green apples from which flavor it most readily projects
--citric acid is found only in very minute quantities in
wine grapes. It often has a concentration about 1/20 that
of tartaric acid
acid -- A much milder acid
than tartaric and malic, lactic acid is often associated
with “milky” flavors in wine and is the primary acid of
yogurt and sauerkraut. Chardonnay is often put through malolactic
fermentation when it is being oaked. The softer, milky lactic
helps contribute to a creamier mouthfeel in the wine.
The malolactic fermentation (MLF)
is an important natural process for adjusting acidity. The
MLF lowers the acidity by converting malic acid to
lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Many white wines
are encouraged by the winemaker to undergo MLF and almost
all red wines "automatically" undergo MLF.
A typical premium California Chardonnay
has a pH of 3.4. compared a pH of 2.91 found in a late harvest
Johannisberg Riesling with 21% residual sugar. Generally
speaking, sweet wines require a higher acidity than table
wines to balance the high sugar. This is true for Sauternes,
Alsatian SGN and German TBA wines.
· Cool climate
grapes have high acid and low sugar - Warm climate
grapes have low acid and high sugar.
WHAT DO ACIDS IN WINE DO FOR WINE AND FOOD PAIRING?
Acidity is a dominant player in any food
and wine pairing due to the pronounced and complex ways
that it can heighten the perception of flavors. In wine
tasting, acidity is perceived by a mouth watering response
by the salivary glands. This mouth watering can also serve
to stimulate the appetite. In wine there are three main
acids that have their own associated flavors-malic (green
apples), lactic (milky) and tartaric (bitter). In dishes
that are fatty, oily, rich or salty, acidity in wine can
"cut" (or standout and contrast) through the heaviness and
be a refreshing change of pace on the palate. In cooking,
acidity is often used in similar fashions such as a lemon
wedges with a briny seafood dish such as oysters. The acidity
of the lemon juices can make the oysters seem less briny.
A wine that is less tart than the dish it is served with
will taste thin and weak. A wine that comes across as "too
tart" on its own maybe soften when paired when an acidic
and tart dish. The complementing "tartness" of the food
and wine cancels each other out and allows the other components
(fruit of the wine, other flavors of the food) to be more
Read more about
Acids in Wine
About the Taste of Tannins
The tannins give structure and backbone to
the wine. They can be sensed by a puckering sensation in
the mouth much like when drinking tea. While tannins can
not be smelt or tasted, they can be perceived during wine
tasting by the tactile drying sensation and sense of bitterness
that they can leave in the mouth. This is due to the tendency
of tannins to react with proteins, such as the ones found
While tannins provide structure to wine and allow
for aging of wine (tannins are a natural preservative in
wine) , they may overwhelm many food dishes.
bitterness associated with
wine is usually derived from a wine's tannins. Tannins add
a gritty texture and chalky, astringent taste. It can enhance
the perception of "body" or weight in the wine. Tannins
are normally derived from the skins and stems of the grapes
themselves (leeched out during the maceration process) or
from contact with oak during barrel aging. Tannins react
to proteins. When paired with dishes that are high in proteins
and fats (such as red meat and hard cheeses), the tannins
will bind to the proteins and come across as softer. In
the absence of protein from the food, such as some vegetarian
dishes, the tannins will react with the proteins on the
tongue and sides of the mouth€”accentuating the bitterness
and having a drying effect on the palate. Various cooking
methods, such as grilling and blackening can add a bitter
"char" component to the dish that will allow it to play
well with a tannic wine. While fish oils can make tannic
wines taste metallic or off. Bitter tannic wines like Barolo
and Cabernet Sauvignon can overwhelm a lot of foods but
can be soften by fatty foods with a lot of proteins such
as hard cheeses or meats. The dry tannins also serve as
a cleansing agent on the palate by binding to the grease
and oils left over in the mouth. Spicy and sweet foods can
accentuate the dry, bitterness of tannins and make the wine
seem to have off flavors.
Read more Wine Polyphenols
About the Oak in Wine
use of oak plays a significant role in winemaking and can
have a profound effect on the resulting wine, affecting
the color, flavor, tannin profile and texture of wine. The
chemical properties of oak itself can have a profound effect
on the wine.
within the wood interact with the wine to produce vanilla
type flavors and can give the impression of tea notes or
sweetness. The degree of "toast" on the barrel can also
impart different properties affecting the tannin levels
of the wine as well as the aggressive wood flavors. The hydrolyzable tannins present
in wood, known as ellagitannins, are derived from lignin
structures in the wood. They help protect the wine from
oxidation and reduction.nin
profile and texture of the wine.
Read more Oak in Wines
About the Sugar in Wine
sugars in wine grapes are what make winemaking possible.
During the process of fermentation, sugars are broken down
and converted by yeasts into ethanol alcohol and carbon
Glucose, along with fructose, is one
of the primary sugars found in wine grapes. In wine, glucose
taste less sweet than fructose.
In wine tasting, humans are least sensitive
to the taste of sweetness (in contrast to sensitivity to
bitterness or sourness) with the majority of the population
being able to detect sugar or "sweetness" in wines between
1% and 2.5% residual sugar. Additionally, other components
of wine such as acidity and tannins can mask the perception
of sugar in the wine.
The sweetness of wines is determined
by the amount of residual sugar left in the wine after the
fermentation process. Wines can be bone dry (with the sugars
fully fermented into alcohol), off-dry (with a hint of sweetness),
semi-dry (medium-sweet) and dessert level sweetness (such
as the high sugar content in Sauternes and Tokays). Sweet
wines often need to be sweeter than the dish they are served
with. Vintage brut champagne paired with sweet, wedding
cake can make the wine taste tart and weak while the cake
will have off flavors. In food pairings, sweetness balances
spice and heat. It can serve as a contrast to the heat and
alleviate some of the burning sensation caused by peppers
and spicy Asian cuisine. It can accentuate the mild sweetness
in some foods and can also contrast with salt such as the
European custom of pairing salty Stilton cheese with a sweet
Port. Sweetness in a wine can balance tartness in food,
especially if the food has some sweetness (such as dishes
with sweet & sour sauces).
Sweet wines will also pair well with
rich foods like foie gras. Desserts that pair well with
sweet wines come in all flavors and textures.
Read more Sugar in Wines
About the Alcohol in Wine
Alcohol is the primary factor in dictating
a wine's weight & body. Typically the higher the alcohol
level, the more weight the wine has. An increase in alcohol
content will increase the perception of density and texture.
In food and wine pairing, salt and spicy heat will accentuate
the alcohol and the perception of "heat" or hotness in the
Conversely, the alcohol can also magnify the heat of spicy
food making a highly alcoholic wine paired with a very spicy
dish one that will generate a lot of heat for the taster.
BASIC WINE PAIRING RULES
The most important elements to pay attention to
in pairing wine and food are the acidity, tannin, alcohol,
and any overt wood flavors in the wine.
PAIR THE WINE TO PERSONAL TASTE-- know your
guests personal taste in wine. If your guests only drink red wine
consider matching red wine --even to fish.
MATCH THE WEIGHT AND TEXTURE OF THE FOOD TO THE
WEIGHT OF THE WINE -- In
food and wine pairings, the most basic element considered is "weight"-the
balance between the weight of the food (a heavy, red sauce pasta
versus a more delicate salad) and the weight or "body" of the
wine (a heavy Cabernet Sauvignon versus a more delicate Pinot
heavy food with heavy wine --light dishes --light
wine -- heavy wines will overpower light wines... heavy dishes
e.g., will over power light wines --examples e.g., pizza with
proscuitto... or poached filet of sole ...
Lighter whites Pinot gris, Pinot blanc,
Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Chablis, Champagne and sparkling
wines, Gruner Veltliner, Vinho Verde
to heavy whites Oaked Sauvignon blanc, Alsatian wines,
Albarino, White Bordeaux (Semillon), White Burgundy, Rhone
whites (Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne), Tamaioasa Romaneasca
and New World Chardonnay
reds Beaujolais, Dolcetto, some Pinot noir
reds Chianti, Barbera, Burgundy, Chinon, Rioja, Cabernet
franc, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel, some Pinot noir
reds Syrah, Brunello di Montalcino, Cabernet Sauvignon,
Port, Barbaresco and Barolo
FATTY FOODS WITH HIGHER TANNIC WINES --
USING A SAUCE -PAIR THE WINE TO THE SAUCE. --
NO SAUCE IS USED PAIR TO THE PROTEIN USED -- See notes on
-- Cabernet almost never goes with fish... the exeception is monkfish
which needs to be prepared with mushrooms and red wine.
--Fatty meat dishes go well with tannic wine
-- well done meats or stews with lower fat content go with red
that has low tannins
A good red wine has everyting to do with the fat content,
which involve both cooking style and the nature of the beef itself"
The best match for game birds pinot noir -- pinot noir from france
was made to match game birds such as quail pigeon and duck
--Poached fish is best served with white wine
--Fish with skin on and grilled or seared works with white or
--Avoid oaked white wines with raw fish
SWEET DISHES TO WINES THAT ARE AS SWEET OR SWEETER --
ACIDIC DISHES WITH ACIDIC WINES -- Wine should be equal to
or more acidic than the dish.
PAIR BY COLOR --
FOODS REQUIRE A SWEETER WINE --
CONSIDER THE LEVEL OF SALT IN THE DISH --
Rember first that salt will magnify flavors, but too much and
salt is all you taste. Salty dishes require a crispy wine with
high acidity, some sweetness and low tannins. see
notes from the experts.
WINE PAIRING APPROACHES
TO SIMILAR FLAVORS
Pair for the overall flavor of the dish --whatever
the 'main ingredient' may be. This is often the case for Asian
COMPEMENT OR CONTRAST
After considering weight, pairing the flavors and
texture can be dealt with using one of two main strategies complement
wine and food pairing
acidity of wine -- By Alexander J. Pandell, Ph.D.
and food pairing from Kendall Jackson Winery
the art and sicence of food and wine pairing
Best Sommelier vs. World’s Worst Customer
Rules for Perfect Pairing -- Food and Wine
Wine Pairs from Gayot
Wine and Fish -- Star Chefs
The Wine Doctor
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