You’re sat down to dinner at a fancy restaurant that you have had reserved for months. Desperately, you start scanning the food and wine menu and wondering what bottle would go best with what dish. The waiter sympathetically looks down at you as a drop of sweat falls from your brow on to the tablecloth. You expectantly look at your partner in the hope that they will be able to get you out of this uncomfortable mess of an evening. You stutter through ordering your starters and then it comes to ordering the dreaded bottle of wine. Throat tightening, palms sweating, you lean forward and whisper ‘white zinfandel’.
Does this situation ring a bell? Maybe yours wasn’t so dramatic, but we’ve all felt the dread when it comes to ordering wine at a restaurant. We all feel underqualified when trying to pair what food would best go with what wine. Especially if we like are fancy enough to be thinking about looking at wine cellars UK in order to start acquiring a collection of wine. If you find it hard to find that perfect pairing, here are our six top tips when it comes to pairing wine.
Always try to match flavours in the wine with flavours in the food. If the wine has a smoky or oaky aroma, then pair it with a smoky dish. If the wine has a hint of dark berries, then make a sauce that contains similar berries. Pairing wine and food is all about making tastes that match.
As you may have been able to work out on your own, sweet and sour complement each other very well. You will be able to create a beautiful meal by pouring yourself a large glass of beautifully sweet and fruity wine alongside a salty dish for dinner. This Chinese realised this a long time ago, hence sweet and sour chicken… yum.
If you decide that you would like to pull a bottle of wine from your cabinet that has high tannin, then a nice pairing is to serve foods which fatty proteins, like duck, to counterbalance it. Keep all of the sauces condensed and well-cooked as too much alcohol highlights the tannin. Low tannin wines work well with light white proteins.
If you have decided to serve a wine with a rather high acidity. You may want to make a meal with an equal amount of acidity to compliment the dish. This means not using too much salt so you can highlight the wine and compliment it nicely.
A good pairing to heavy wine might unsurprisingly be heavy food. The rule is that the heavier the wine is, the heavier the food can be. Heavy wines are perfect pairings for meat, roasted or in stews. Meats like wild boar will stand up to a heavy wine.
As the same with heavy wine, delicate wine, that you may serve on a wine tasting display rack, needs delicate food and cooking. All food that needs to be eaten with a delicate wine has to be simple. Deep fried meals can ruin a delicate wines flavour. Make sure you know what delicate foods pair well with delicate wines as you can make a mistake quite easily.
Hopefully, now you feel a bit more comfortable with choosing wine in a restaurant. Always remember to try and match flavours that will work well together or are similar. I assume you would know what flavours go together when cooking a meal, so keep the same type of idea in mind when choosing a wine pairing for your food. If you are still struggling, there are lots of sources out there to go and learn about specific flavours that work well with specific foods.