Pairing Food & Wine 101

Guest post by Georgio Meletiou, Tsogo Sun Regional Sommelier

Georgio Meletiou, Tsogo Sun Regional Sommelier

Let’s start by debunking some myths… There is no mystery to pairing food and wine, but the kingship between the two holds the key to many gastronomic pleasures. The more you allow yourself to experiment with flavour, the more interesting and challenging your food and wine world will become. A perfect pairing can turn an ordinary meal into a wonderful occasion.

Traditionally white wines were paired with poultry and fish, and red wines with red meat. Alas, world trends are moving boundaries, and enticing people to explore new flavor combinations.  People around the world are becoming more knowledgeable and therefor more comfortable to experiment with food and wine.

Here are a few basic tips to guide you:

  • Match weight with weight. Serve dry, light-bodied, low alcohol wines with light dishes for example, raw/fresh vegetables, low fat, and high acid foods. Serve full-bodied, ripe, high alcohol, creamy-textured wines with heavier foods such as foods that contain high dairy or animal fat, protein and rich sauces.
  • Serve high acid wines with high acid foods. For example, serve a dry Riesling or a crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc with salads dressed with vinaigrette, goats cheese as well as tomato-based dishes.
  • Avoid tannic wines with fatty/oily fish. For example, avoid a big and bold Cabernet Sauvignon with mackerel, black cod or salmon. When tannin comes in contact with iodine (like salmon) it leaves an unpleasant, steely after taste.
  • Soften tannic wines with salty, fatty, protein-rich foods. Tannic wines are astringent and mouth puckering. A well-seasoned, protein-rich food like marbled beef softens the astringency sensation.
  • Serve salty foods with high acid wines. For example, serve a chilled Gamay or Pinot Noir with cured meats; alternatively an Italian Pinot Grigio loves food containing umami flavors.
  • Serve off-dry or sweet wines with slightly sweet or sweet foods. Remember, the wine should always be as sweet or sweeter than what is on the plate.
  • Serve off-dry wines with spicy curry dishes. The sweetness of the wines neutralizes the spiciness in the food, a perfect pairing.

Don’t be afraid to try things outside your comfort zone. if it doesn’t work learn from it, if it does work, bank it and use it in your next dinner with friends.

Wine Regards,

Georgio