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The Best Food And Wine Pairing For Beginners

 The world of wine is already intimidating as it was, but if you're to throw in the complexities of pairing it with food, well, it gets even trickier. The best food and wine pairing can be the key to throwing an epic dinner party that’ll impress your friends and family. But how do you go about it?  

Food And Wine Pairing Tips 

Food and wine pairing should be all about complementing each other without overpowering the other's flavor. It doesn't imply pairing opposing flavors— the key is to achieve the right balance by matching the same flavors.  In some instances, contrasting flavors can complement each other, such as fried rice with a deliciously aromatic Riesling.  

It may appear to be a daunting task, given that entire books have been written on the subject, but it doesn't have to be stressful. Read on to discover some tips and points to consider when pairing wine and food.  

Understanding The Basic Wine Terms  

Knowing some of the most commonly used wine terms is the first step toward understanding wine and food pairings. These words are used to describe various wine aspects. You'll most likely encounter these terms as you do your research, so it's better that you know what they mean. You can also watch this video for a quick and free wine class:   

Acidity, for instance, is a very common term when talking about wine. It plays a significant role in wine preservation, and it refers to the tartness or 'pucker' that makes your tongue salivate. If your first sip comes off 'crisp' and refreshing, that means the wine has prevalent or dominant acidity.   

Another term you'll encounter when pairing food and wine is 'dry,' which refers to the taste that lingers in your mouth due to the number of sugars left in the wine after fermentation. On the other hand, the word 'tannin' is an essential classifier for wine tastings that pertains to a wine's astringency, bitterness, and dryness. Tannins are usually associated with red wine and are opposed to the sweetness found in many white wines.  

Food And Wine Pairing Combinations 

Food and wine should be partners, each assisting the other, and neither should overpower the other. Rich foods require a rich wine that will not dry up in contrast to bold flavors, whereas light foods require a subtle wine that won't overpower tastes.    

When attempting to calculate the weight of your food, consider its fat content. A blue cheese salad, for example, is a heavier dish despite being a salad. Consider the grape variety and color of the wine when evaluating it. Wines with less alcohol tend to be lighter in the body.   

So, what constitutes a good food and wine pairing? You can go to a Sommelier school if you're serious about the topic. Alternatively, you can do your research and consider the list below as your wine pairing manual or a cheat sheet, if you may. It's difficult to remember what goes with what, especially with so many different types of wine available. So, here are some tried and true combinations of food and fine:   

  • Identify The Most Prominent Feature Of Your Dish 

It's critical to determine the most prominent feature in your dish to pick the best wine to go with it. In most cases, the sauce is usually the feature you're looking for and not the main ingredient. Almost any wine goes well with most steaks spiced with salt and pepper. If you're dining out, note that restaurants have unique rubs and flavorings to distinguish their dishes.  

Sweet sauces, such as brown sugar glazes, can be balanced by acidic wines. Even sweeter wines pair well with sweet dressings. On the other hand, a spicier wine pairs best with heavily spiced or seasoned meats. The fruit contrast in wines also pairs well with intense flavors. If you're having steak with a citrusy and spicy tang, a fruity Moscato or sweet Zinfandel can help balance the flavors.  

  • Find Congruent Or Contrasting Pairings 

There are numerous approaches to food and wine pairing, but each falls into two categories—congruent and contrasting. A congruent combination is when identical flavors intensify and mirror each other, such as a full-bodied Chardonnay matching the creamy bechamel sauce in pasta.   

When creating congruent pairings, it's critical to ensure that the food's flavor does not overpower the wine. When this happens, the wine's flavor can become bland. A congruent pairing allows both the food and the wine to enhance each other's flavors.    

A contrasting or complementary pairing, on the other hand, is created when a particular dish and the wine do not have the same taste characteristics, but there’s a balance between their contrasting flavors. The creamy and rich sauce of bechamel may work well with Chardonnay, but it also pairs well with Pinot Grigio’s acidity and sharpness. Rose, sparkling, and white wines are ideal for creating contrasting pairings. Sweet wines' sugar tones down the spiciness of well-seasoned foods. Likewise, the saltiness of the food draws out the sugary and fruity flavors of the wine.   

  • Trust Your Taste Buds 

You must pair your food with a wine that you enjoy. If you don't normally drink white wines, you'll most likely not enjoy it with any food. Stick to what you prefer and expand from there.   

If in doubt, go with a wine you love. If the pairing isn't superb, you'll still enjoy what you're sipping. Food and wine pairings, like boys learning make-up or girls learning basketball, are a matter of personal taste. No gastronomic rule could ever define the peculiarity of your tastes.   

 Although it's recommended to follow the food and wine pairing rules, your personal preference is still the most important criterion to have the best dining experience. Experimenting with different foods and wine varieties with varying flavor profiles can help you find that perfect match.  

Final Words 

Ultimately, food and wine pairings can be as simple or complex as possible. It's essentially a case of 'you should know the rules before breaking them.' The most important thing to remember is you have fun and drink what your tastebuds enjoy.   

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