One of the best things about going out for dinner is asking a knowledgeable, experienced waiter what wine would go best with your chosen meal and discovering a new favourite. Wine tasting experiences have become very popular in recent years but what are the basic rules you should follow when pairing wine with your food?
Everyone knows that a delicate white goes well with chicken or fish and a bold, full bodied red goes best with steak and other rich, red meats but why do these flavours work so well together? It’s all about balance; you want the notes of your wine to compliment, and not compete with the flavours of your food and once you know how to marry these components you’ve got a match made in heaven.
Sauvignon Blanc – A firm crowd pleaser and an all round favourite of many, when you ask a restaurant for a ‘house white’ you’ll most likely be presented with a sauvignon blanc. High in acidity and full of flavour this light and citrussy vino is deliciously easy to drink.
Works well with: chicken, turkey, pork, fatty white fish, lobster, sushi and white cheeses
Merlot – The soft berry flavours really jump put of Merlot making it a lighter red that is a bit more palatable than more bolder red wines. Although hard to detect, notes of mint and juniper are present in merlot making it a wining choice to pair with similar flavours.
Works well with: steak and grilled meats, parmesan cheese, grilled meatier fish such as tuna steak, bolognese and ragu sauces and anything tomato based.
Chardonnay – Whilst this wine takes on many forms it’s important to keep in mind if you’re drinking a heavier, full bodied Chardonnay when selection what to drink with your meal. Chardonnay is wonderful with creamy dishes and is wonderful added to cream sauces too.
Works well with: chicken, pork, halibut, shrimp, most cream sauces and blue cheeses.
Riesling – The perfect white to go with spicier dishes; Riesling is quite misunderstood and brushed off as the creamier cousin of Chardonnay but this perfectly balanced sweet and acidic white is a wonderful accompaniment to Thai and other Asian dishes.
Works well with: smoked sausage, Thai spices. Indian spices, chilli, Gouda, duck and candied nuts
Pinot Noir – A festival of flavours, the grape in Pinot Noir takes many forms and creates many delicious, fruity offerings. Lighter in body than most reds, Pinot Noir is a great dinner party wine as you can’t really go wrong with it and is great for not-quite-winter- months with a crisp chill in the air.
Goes well with: salmon, lamb, sausage, chicken, brie, cinnamon spices and mushroom sauces.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Bold in tannins and heavy on the fruit, this is a great wine if sharing a cheese board. One of the most widely recognised red wines, the complex flavours work well when used in heart beef stews and sauces, a great kitchen staple.
Works well with: venison, beef, cheddar, tomato bases, cherries and chocolate