BASIC TIPS IN PAIRING WINE WITH FOOD
The first documents about matching wine and food were written in XIX century. Now there are 3 main school of matching food and wine: English, French and Italian
According to this way of thinking everybody should be driven by the instinct and senses. Each choice is purely subjective.
After a lot of discussions and arguing they released a Decalogue about drinking wine during a meal. These rules are helpful but for each rules there are important exceptions, so never take it too seriously:
- Never serve an important and structured white wine with red meat or wild meat;
- Never serve an important and structured red wine with fish and seafood;
- White wines should be served before red wines;
- Light wines should be served before strong wines;
- Cold wines should be served before environmental temperature wines
- Wines should be served increasing the alcohol grade wine by wine
- Each dish should be served with its specific wine
- Wines should be served during their best season
- Each wine should be separated by the following drinking a sip of water
- Never serve only one important wine during a meal
Luigi Veronelli was one of the most important persons for the wine culture in Italy. He was from Bergamo and he died in 2004 but he left us many books about wine, wine pairing, and wine culture in general.
He gave a huge contribution of Italian school which can be resumed in 2 simple rules, because wine can be paired with food in 2 different ways:
- According to contrast, so you can feel more the specific nature of food and the wine. for example cheese (which is salted) match well with sweet strong dessert wine. In this way cheese will result more salty and wine sweeter. For obvious reason this rule is ok only if cheese is not too salty and wine not too sweet.
- According to similarity, so you can reduce the impact of a certain nature of food and wine. for example with dessert (usually desserts are extremely sweet) the only choice is sweet wine otherwise the dessert will result too sweet and the wine too bitter.
Although the art of pairing it's complicate (and very subjective). Here some tips derived by the 2 general rules:
- With a oily or fat dish it’s better to use a dry wine or, better, a sparkling wine (Lambrusco, or spumante) which help to ‘wash’ the mouth.
- With a acid food (something with lemon for example) it’s better to drink a gentle white wine but with a strong acidity which erase or reduce the acid impact of the food
- With a food with a long persistence (the flavor stay long time in mouth after swallowing) it’s better to drink a wine with a long persistence too.
- With pasta or rice it depends on the sauce, always make the match with the sauce
- It’s possible to drink red wine with fish (especially when is cooked with tomato sauce) but the red wine should be gentle and with few tannins.
- No tannins at all also with certain vegetables like asparagus, fennel, spinach or artichoke. So only white wine with dishes with these ingredients
- No wine at all with row vegetables or fruit. The result would be a metallic flavor in the mouth
- With red meat red wine is the best choice. The stronger and more structured is the recipe the stronger and more structured should be the wine.
- With Poultry, it depends on sauce or side dish (like pasta or risotto)
- With young and light cheese the best choice is a white wine with a strong acidity
- With long persistence cheese, old cheese, fat cheese, cheese with herbs can match with a old red wine (according to similarity/persistence), a sparkling wine (according contrast/mouth washing), or a dessert strong wine (according to contrast/sweetness)
- With fat dessert with cream it’s better to drink a sweet sparkling wine
- With cookies the best choice is a sweet strong dessert wine