When choosing a wine to pair with a meal, we can be confounded especially given the number of permutations out there with food and wine pairings. Here are four tips you can think about when determining the best wine to pair for your meal:
How high the acidity of your wine will affect how your food tastes. Think of it as adding a squeeze of lemon to you oven-baked fish or to bread-crusted pork loins. Sparkling wines are usually the highest in acidity, followed by white wines and then red wines. There are exceptions when it comes to white wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation where the acidity is softer. As a general rule of thumb, if you like acid to freshen your palate after each sip, go for dry German or Alsatian Rieslings, Italian Pinot Grigio, Austrian Grüner Veltliner and Zero Dosage Sparkling wine. There should be enough acidity in there to make a heavy or creamy meal seem lighter.
If you are drinking wines with residual sugar in there, it is recommended to pair it with a dessert which is less sweet. Sweet wines are usually served at the end of the meal so that it does not make drinks that come after it more perceptibly less sweet. This would throw the drink off-balance and the result would be a more acidic or bitter drink. Another option is to serve sweet wines with food which is bitter such as dark chocolate or arugula salad. Sweetness also does a great job with deep-fried salty food like deep-fried baby silver fish. Sweet wines are also adaptable to spicy food.
Red wines are usually tannic, which means they give a pluckery sensation to the mouth. There is also a chance that they might be bitter if the temperature is served too cold. With red wines, the key to reducing that potential bitter flavour is to add more salt to your food. By adjusting the salt level in your dish, you can also reduce the bitter flavours of your wine. Try this with a grilled piece of steak. Do not add salt, take a bite and drink some wine. You will find the combination not very pleasant. Add some salt to the meat now and drink the same wine. Big difference!
Some would argue that wines do not have any umami flavours but I found umami flavours in wines that have undergone a lot of contact with the lees (grape sediments). You can find this in Sparkling wines that have undergone secondary fermentation in the bottle or Chardonnay that has undergone lees stirring. This flavours are pretty intense and you may want to avoid having food that is full of umami too because it can be too overwhelming for the palate. Food with lots of umami includes seaweed, mushrooms and various types of seafood. Instead, try adding some lemon or lime to your dish which would add more zing into your meal, countering the heavy effects of umami on your palate.
When choosing a wine, consider these four flavours in the bottle that you are going to serve. This will give you a better idea to plan your meal around the wine or vice versa. Bon Appetite!