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Friday, August 3, 2012

Making your food go with the wine

That sounds backwards because aren't you supposed to find the wine that goes with what you're cooking or ordering?

This idea of making your food properly match wine came to me as I'm marinading some chicken in a teriyaki with pineapple sauce. The experts (ok, the websites found by Google) said Riesling or maybe Gewurztraminer or Sauvignon Blanc. Well, I want a red wine! What is it about the marinade that won't work with a red? The sweetness, the saltiness? The problem is more often I get in the mood for a certain kind of wine than a certain kind of food.

For one, any dish that's overdone with something like too much garlic, onions, heat, fat, etc. will have a difficult time pairing with most wines.The best wines are balanced, that is everything in harmony. Not too much tannin, alcohol, acid, etc. It's the same with food. So you want balanced food with balanced wine. Well, maybe it's not that simple as I don't have any actual metrics to define balance. It's one of those, "I know it when I taste it."

Recently I sat in on a herb/wine paring. It was with one particular Chardonnay and several different herbs. The difference in the wine with each herb was striking. Knowing what you're doing is the key and I don't  profess to being any sort of expert.

It gets tricky. For instance, do you want an acid wine, such as a Sangiovese, to go with an acidic food, say spaghetti sauce? Or do you want to create a contrast, say a fat (low acid) Chardonnay with an acidic food to make the Chard seem more balanced?

My ol' standby is, "When in doubt use an off-dry sparkling wine." That's because bubblies usually work well with spicy or salty foods and that's often where you get into trouble with food/wine pairing. Next time instead of the store-bought teriyaki sauce I should just look up a recipe for a marinade using the wine I plan on drinking with the meal.

There's a blog post by Palate Press that goes into this in much more detail and is interesting reading.