Knowing that I love my wine it’s perhaps no surprise that my dining companions invariably ask me to choose the bottle when we go to a restaurant.
In many chain establishments or in pubs, when perhaps there are only a handful of different bottles available, it is good to know that a wine buyer somewhere along the way has taken all of the hard work out by only choosing wines that will pair well with their food offerings.
If you’re going somewhere that offers a greater range or if you are preparing a special meal at home and want to go the extra mile, it’s very true that you can become sufficiently over-whelmed by all of the variety and begin to panic. Like anything though, there are numerous tricks and tips you can use to get the right wine for your food, and certainly for you to get in the right broad category.
If you follow the below tips there’s a good chance you will probably enjoy your meal more, and it may inspire you to try out new and exciting combinations. Above all, it may just mean you look a bit fancy in front of your friends!
Tip 1 – What grows together goes together.
Even if you’re not too hot on your geography this is nice easy way to make a good match. When just dipping your toe in to the world of wine it can sometimes look like anything grows everywhere, but there is a pattern.
The grape varieties that survive and thrive are there for a reason and so, if you are ordering Italian food, invariably a bottle of Italian wine will match best. Great swathes of the Mediterranean have a culture of wine being present at the dining table, and the style of the wine has developed to specifically blend and compliment the food in advance.
Tip 2 – The colour code
So you’ve got the right country for your dish, but which wine do you go for: red, white or rosé? Even just the colour of a wine can give you hints as to what it will pair best with it. At the simplest level this can be matching a white wine with lighter coloured foods such as fish and pasta, red wines will go well with darker dishes such as meatballs or steak, and rosé is good with salmon or cut meat such as prosciutto.
Tip 3 – How much do you weigh?
No this isn’t a personal question, but more about the weight of the dish you are ordering. I’m going to expand on my above tip to ensure you are matching your wine to the overall weight of your dish as opposed to its main ingredient.
The oft repeated myth that fish pairs with white wine and meat dishes pair only with red can easily be turned on its head by the style of the dish. For example, if you are ordering a well grilled fish, or a meat dish with a creamy mushroom sauce, the opposite of which wine is best is actually true.
Think about the overall weight of the meal and then balance it with the weight of the wine you eventually order. Along the same lines, the sweetness of the wine needs to match the sweetness of the foods, so when heading for the dessert menu, your standard dry wines will be easily over-powered and you’ll need to head for a specifically labelled sweet wine.
By using the tips above you are 90% of the way to choosing the right wine for your food but, like anything, there is a whole level of detail you can immerse yourself in, such as the specific flavours that each particular grape variety will add.
The last thing I will say though is that, in most cases, the best wine that will go with the food you are eating is the bottle you are drinking at the time.
Read Darren’s wine blog at vinesight.me