Pairing Food and Wine

Pairing Food and Wine

The close relationship between food and wine may, in part, closely parallel the evolution of great cooking and great wine making. It's no surprise that some of the best cuisine in the world happens in some of the finest wine-growing regions, where wine is often just as prevalent in the cooking process as it is in the glass.

It is important to understand the basic tastes of wine: sweet, bitter and sour. Much of what we perceive as taste are actually aromas, including floral, fruit, spice and alcohol aromas. Apart from the basic taste of wine, the weight and intensity, or texture, of a wine is an important factor in food and wine pairing.

Broadly speaking there are two approaches to food and wine matching, wherever in the world you may be – marriages and contrasts. The marriage approach is all about like with like, striking harmony between flavours and textures on the plate and in the glass or matching the weight of a wine, whether full, medium or light-bodied, should match the weight of the dish. An example of this approach is to match a ripe, full-bodied Shiraz with a grilled fillet of beef served with a red wine reduction. The contrasts approach is about pitching wine and food at opposite ends and striking a balance of flavour intensity and texture through their interaction. An example of this is to match a zesty young Riesling with pan roasted sea scallops in a rich butter sauce.

One other tip is don’t get hung up on colour. The diverse array of wine on offer beckons you to break free of convention and experiment. Each wine is unique, regardless of variety and region, and each vintage has its own character  plus subtle shifts in wine style can make big differences in the way wines interact with food.

The Prominent Australian chef, restaurateur and author Neil Perry Quote:

“I think food and wine pairing is important because it heightens the whole dining experience. There are two ways of going about it, what I try to do is look at the flavours and textures in the food and pick up flavours that are similar or comparable in the wine. If you have something that’s flavoured with truffles then an older Pinot Noir can work really well, because of those gamey aromas in the wine and the truffles. But then sometimes you also want to look at some opposing flavours, for example if you have something that’s really quite rich you might want to select a wine to cut through that.

There’s really no right and wrong, on a personal level though, it’s better to drink things you enjoy, and many wines go very well with lots of food. I drink lots of red wines with seafood for example. Matching wine and food makes it a more complete experience; it keeps adding layers and complexity and makes the whole thing more enjoyable."

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