Wine Pairings For Beginners
Aug 27, 2023
Why should you pair food & wine?
Matching wine with food is often seen as an elite level of wine expertise – something only for the real pros – so why would anyone who doesn’t know much about wine go there?
First, there’s the additional joy and pleasure you can bring into your life with just a few small changes to something you’re already doing. We drink together all the time, but well- matched wine and food are so much more than the sum of their parts. When you pair food & wine thoughtfully, you elevate two already brilliant things to the next level deliciousness – without necessarily spending much more or going to much effort.
How to pair wine?
Blanket rules for food & wine matching just don’t work. Everyone’s palate is different and responds differently to flavours & sensations. Grapes taste vary depending on where in the world they’re grown (sometimes the other side of a hedge can make a difference) and every winemaker will make their wine differently, producing unique flavours and aromas.
When starting to pair wine & food remember to experiment, keep an open mind – try new things and get to know your palate. Make notes/take a picture on your phone so you remember what you like or don’t so next time your buying wine you have it to hand.
These two great ideas should get you started with wine & food matching without making any absurd rules.
- What grows together, goes together – food & wine culture tend to evolve & grow together as people have been enjoying local food & wine together for thousands of years. Great examples of this are oysters & Muscadet. Muscadet made from melon de Bourgogne grapes grown in the western part of the Loire Valley. The local delicacy is oysters and the two marry together incredibly well together. Another example is German Riesling & Pork, the freshness of the Riesling cuts through the richness of the meat and hits it with lots of fresh green apples & citrus with a generous helping of honeysuckle to bring it all together.
- Use wine as a condiment – sounds strange but it can give you some ideas in a tough wine & food situation. With Fish & Chips the first thing you reach for is some vinegar and lemon. This is great as we know the dish needs lots acidity and citrus flavours work well, we know we’re looking for a dry, fresh, high acidity wine with lots of texture – English Sparkling wine fits the description. Another great example is lamb, a lot of chefs will cook lamb with some red pepper, tomato and some exotic spices for warmth, maybe Spanish or North African style. Syrah or Shiraz is a red grape that typically makes medium to full bodied wines with lots of red fruit flavours and gentle warming spice, these will be ideal together.
Where to buy wine from?
Now more than ever it’s so important to search out your local wine shop/importer, get to know them and show them some love! Supermarket selections have got a lot better over the years but they’re still very unsustainable way to buy wine. Nine times out of ten you’ll get way more wine for your money, a better service and good feeling from buying from a local shop.
When buying wine, it’s important to
- Be open minded to new choices.
- Ignore medals and awards on the bottle.
- Don’t judge a wine by it’s label.
- Ask for help and let them know your price range, style of wine you like and any dislikes.
- Ask lots of questions.
- Share some great bottles that you’ve enjoyed in the past.
- Buy a copy of Which Wine When so you know what you’re looking for ;)