I came across an article today by Holly Howell in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. She talks about the art of food and wine pairing.
No matter how much I love wine, and how much I love food, I never seem to be able to get my pairings right. So I enjoyed her little mnemonic of how food and wine FIT together:
F – Flavor, I – Intensity, and T – Texture.
Let’s start with the F word. Flavor is not just about the protein
(meat, poultry, fish or tofu). Clue No. 1. It is all about the sauce
and the overall taste of your main dish. For example, citrus-based
sauces have a fondness for citrus-flavored wines, such as Sauvignon
Blanc. Yet a grilled swordfish with a mango-pineapple salsa would be
better with a wine that carries more tropical flavors, perhaps a New
World, oak-aged Chardonnay. A steak topped with peppercorn sauce could
be lovely with a peppery red Shiraz from Australia. Makes sense.
Intensity is clue No. 2. Intensity is the concentration of
flavors on the plate. A delicate poached filet of sole has much less
intensity than a roast duck with blueberry sauce. Choose a wine that
will match the intensity of your food. Neither food nor wine should
overwhelm each other. Try a delicate white Pinot grigio with your fish
and a rich berry-flavored red like Merlot with your duck.
Texture is clue No. 3. This can be measured in terms of body,
from light to heavy. Think of milk. Skim milk is light. Homogenized
milk is heavier. Half-and-half is heaviest. Wine can be measured in the
same manner. Just like the milk, consider how heavy that wine feels in
your mouth. If your food is lean and light, then your best bet is a
light-bodied wine like a dry Riesling. If your food has a moderate
amount of weight, then go with a medium-bodied wine like Italian
Barbera. If your food is drowning in sweet and sour barbecue sauce,
then bring in a big gun, like a full-bodied red Zinfandel.
I do beg to differ on a couple of her examples. Earlier this year I tried a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc with a wonderful citrus pork loin. It ended up being a clash of the citrus. A slightly heavier Chardonnay, or perhaps a light reisling, might have worked better. For another WBW this year, I paired a peppercorn steak with a shiraz, thinking the pepper would meld well. Not so much.
Other than those two examples, I can’t really fault the rest of the article. At the end, she lists 10 general examples of great food & wine pairings that consistently work. In fact, the only one she missed is port and/or sherry and chocolate.
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