Pairing food and wine is just fun. It’s not hard science or anything, but a creative way of making both the food and the wine taste better!
There’s lots of room for experimentation in wine and food pairings, and since we all like different things, there are no universal pairings. You might like a combination more than others, and someone else might like another one.
Having said that, a few tips can improve your food and wine pairing skills and will definitely improve your chances of finding a fantastic pairing for your dinner. Before we get started, you’ll need some wine, so browse Juicefly’s wine selection and have your favorite wine delivered in minutes!
1. Acidity Matters.
All wines are acidic, some more than others, and it’s that acidity that makes the wine taste fresh and vibrant — without it, any wine would taste dull. Acidity in wine also stresses the food’s flavors. Just like when you squirt a lemon over fish, wine can liven food beautifully thanks to its acidity.
The rule here is to make sure the wine is always more acidic than the food, or it will taste plain and flat. That’s why it’s so hard to pair wine with citrusy ceviche or vinegar-based salad dressings — you need lots of acidity in the wine!
Pro tip: White wine is more acidic than red, and wine from cold climates is more acidic than wine from warm places. Sparkling wine is amongst the most acidic wine styles!
2. Sweetness Tames the Heat.
Most wine is dry, meaning it has no sugar — it’s been turned into alcohol! Actually, all wines have around 3 grams of sugar per liter, but it’s unnoticeable.
Some wine styles, though, have some sweetness, from luscious dessert wine to others with a nice, sweet palate that’s never cloying. These wines are ideal for pairing with spicy food, and when we say spicy, we mean hot.
Sweetness in the wine tames the heat, which is a critical tool to consider when pairing wine with food. If you’re having spicy curry for dinner, your best bet is a sweet Moscato or something similar.
Pro Tip: Overly alcoholic wines make hot food taste spicier, so you want a sweet wine with medium to low ABV.
3. Sweetness Trumps Sweetness.
Just like wine must always be more acidic than the food, it should also be sweeter. If you have wine with dessert, make sure the wine is sweeter, or it will taste weak.
The good news is that desserts come in all sweetness levels, from subtly sweet fruit tarts to decadent chocolate cakes. Wine also comes in different sweetness, so there’s one for every dessert.
Let’s not forget there’s sweetness in other food as well. Sticky ribs or teriyaki noodles have a noticeable sweetness, and they’ll pair best with wine with some sugar.
Pro Tip: Some red wines, like California’s Zinfandel and the Italian Amarone are dry wines, but they have a sweetness to them, so they’re perfect for sweet main courses.
4. Tame Bold, Structured Red with Fat.
Beautifully marbled steaks and fatty meat are better enjoyed with a glass of structured red wine, think Cabernet or Syrah. The key here is tannins, the gritty particles in wine that cause a drying sensation in your mouth.
Tannins bind with fat molecules softening the wine’s edge while cutting through the food’s fat. The fattier the food, the more tannins you need. That’s why some age-worthy red wines are simply hard to drink on their own but delicious when enjoyed with food.
Pro Tip: Tannic red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo and Sangiovese.
5. Drink What you Want, Eat What you Like!
Perhaps the most important wine and food pairing tip is, eat and drink what you enjoy the most. Your favorite wine might not pair perfectly with everything, but if you enjoy it, then it’s a successful pairing!
At the end of the day, wine and food pairings are all about enhancing your experience and make your meals more enjoyable. Although some types of wine might make your food taste better, there’s no substitution for eating and drinking your favorite food and wine.
Pro Tip: When choosing wine for dinner, consider your guest’s preferences, too. It’s not all about you, you know?