The marriage of food and wine – a delicate balance

Dinner with wine used to be simple. The rule was white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat. But most of us don’t just eat meat and potatoes or drink only one  style of wine these days.

With modern fusion cuisine and wines from new regions around the world, the choices – and confusion – are great. One new school of thought is that any wine goes with any dish. However, most of us don’t put ketchup on our ice cream for the same reason as we don’t drink a delicate white wine with a hearty meat dish or a powerful red wine with sole – they are mismatched flavours and textures.

When the marriage of food and wine works well, each enhances the other, making the meal greater than if you had consumed them separately. That’s why the following classic matches have survived the changes in food fashion: stilton with port, foie gras with sauternes, boeuf bourguignon with Burgundian pinot noir and goat cheese with sauvignon blanc.

It helps to start with the basic principles of food and wine pairing as they still provide a basis for experimenting with new world cuisine. One of the most important elements to harmonize between wine and food is flavour. For example, a tangy tomato-based pasta sauce requires a wine with comparable acidity. Without this balance between the acidity of the dish and the wine, the partner with lower acidity tastes flabby and dull, while the other, too tart.

To find an acidic wine, you can chose one that is made in the same area as the food. Years of matching the regional cuisine and wine as well as similar soil and climatic conditions make this a safe bet. Remember, acidic wines also work well with salty dishes.

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