Matching The Right Wine with Food

Thursday, August 9th, 2007 at 12:00 am

wine and foodIt is true that wines are usually recommended to be paired with either meat, fish, or cheese. However, there are some wines that just do not go well with food, no matter how superb they may be when taken on its own. Serving an incompatible wine would not only ruin your dinner, but would certainly dampen the celebration.

In theory, the rule of thumb in pairing wines and foods is that they should compliment each other by pairing the flavors of food with similarly-flavored wines. Meaning, one should not overpower the other when tasted. Here are some basics about wines that should be avoided on the dinner table.

Wines with wooden tones – Such wines that have low acidity and tannins would not complement well with the food proteins, especially if you are planning meat for dinner. These two are the backbone of any wine, and soul of a great food and wine pairing. The absence of these two would mean there should be no pairing to begin with. Example of this is California Chardonnay.

Wines with high alcohol content – You can check out a wine’s alcohol content just by looking at its label. Any wine that has an alcohol content higher than 14% is not an ideal partner with most dishes, since its lack of acidity and presence of acetic bacteria would only make the wine overpowering.

The only recommended foods that can be paired with high-alcohol wine are the following: rich, weighty foods like large pieces of steak; and dishes that are low in salt. Pairing this with spicy foods would only make the "hotness" more intensified, and at some instances would feel "burned" in your palette.

Certain wine varieties – This is not because some varietals are bad when paired with food, but because they are usually prone to having high alcohol content. Examples of these "mishandled" varieties include Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.

Cheap, alcoholic fruit juice – Some products that are being marketed as wine may not be wine at all. These "swill" are actually alcoholic, fermented versions of grape juice from concentrate. It is very much identified as having a taste of jammy fruit, a slight sweetness, and lots of vanilla overtones from oak chips or sawdust or other flavoring agents that are used. These are actually not wine to begin with, and you should be careful when choosing such.