Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Matching Foods with Wines, plus Holiday Recommendations

With the holidays around the corner, and thinking about all the wonderful food you are about to enjoy soon, I decided it was time to talk about matching food and wine. Especially, because wine plays always a very important role in all of your holiday gatherings. Let's start by the beginning with rule #1: when matching food and wine, it's important to keep the balance between the two.
All of my winos have heard me say this, many times: the most important quality a wine can have, is its balanceBalance of the elements is the holy grail of any wine producer in the world, it’s important to integrate all key components in a wine: fruit, acidity, tannins, alcohol, sweetness and body; so, that no element overpowers the other, the same rule applies when matching food and wine, we don’t want the wine to overpower the food or worse the wine to disappear when matched with the incorrect dishes. No, Cabernet Sauvignon with chicken or turkey please!

A few things to keep in mind here, when in doubt, keep it local, meaning match wines and dishes from the same region. One of the best matches is Goat Cheese with Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley), Beef Bourguignon and Pinot noir, Sausages and Alsace Riesling etc, do match local foods with local wine.

Body in wine is a key element to match with food, if you eat/cook light dishes, then the obvious choice will be a light bodied wine: Baked Flounder and Pinot Gris for example and match big dishes with big wines: Steak and Cabernet Sauvignon or Lamb with Syrah. Match, light with light and big with big, and there’s plenty of medium bodied wines to match with everyday meals, such as Pizza, Hamburgers, Quiche. Also not only consider the main component in the dish but also the sauces, since these can change the texture of any dish.

Acid: in the case of acidity, we can apply the law of opposites: high acid wines will go well with sweet dishes. I’m not talking desserts here, but dishes with sweet sauces. Acid can also be reduced when matched with fat, french fries and champagne (try it, it’s so good) And of course acid will match with acid, or in place of acid, if you use lemon in your dishes, then match this dish with a high acid wine.

Tannins: these are usually drying in your palate and bitter, so when considering a pairing look for dishes that will soften them in your mouth. Protein and fat can help reduce and soften the blow of the astringency found in tannins. That is why most red tannic wines will pair beautifully with hard cheeses and red meats.

Oak: oaky wines are better matched with dishes with butter and cream; these two ingredients will make dishes big so choose big wines. A good example of this, is lobster with oaky Chardonnay. Also, consider here the spices that oak in wines may provide, like coconut, or vanilla, caramel, coffee, chocolate, etc.
Match savory foods with savory wines, spicy wines (I will dedicate a post about these wines soon, Carménère and Malbec are two examples) are perfect with savory foods, but be careful with the spices, some may be too hot. Spicy wines go well with Middle Eastern foods. Now, if your dishes are very hot like Chili, it will be best to match them with an off dry or sweet wine, applying the law of opposites: do match Riesling and Indian Food.

Sweet dishes such as dessert will go very well with sweet wines, or a sweet wine can replace dessert, instead of eating cake, you can have a glass of Sauternes, or Port. Match Port with Chocolates, Ice Cream with PX Sherry, Tarte Tatin with Sauternes, Moscato D’Asti and Birthday Cake.

More recommendations in the chart below:
Beef, Lamb Chops, Hard Cheeses
Powerbombs: Barolo, Bordeaux, Priorat,  Rhone Valley reds, Ribera del Duero, Argentinean Malbec, CA and Chilean Cabernets.
Veal, Salmon, Tuna, Chicken, Turkey
Light and Classic:Pinot Noir, Burgundy, California or Aussie Chardonnay, Rosé
White Fish: filet of Sole, Pollock, Cod
Medium Whites:Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, NZ Sauvignon Blanc
Charcouterie, Hamburgers,Pasta
Light Reds:Beaujolais, Rioja Crianza, Chianti, Barbera D' Alba
Vegetarian Dishes
Light Whites: Pinot Grigio, Alsace and German Riesling, Austria Gruner Veltliner
Oysters, Shrimp, Sushi
Dry Whites: Muscadet, Chablis, Manzanilla and Fino Sherries, Champagne
My Holiday Recommendations:
Below are some of the wines I tasted lately and loved! Some of these are a bit pricey but they are so worthy of once or twice a year splurge.

Sparkling:
Amiraut Crémant de Loire Les Quarterons NV $31.99
Delamotte Champagne Brut NV $65.99
Laurent Perrier Brut NV $45 

Big Reds:
Famille Perrin Gigondas La Gille 2017 $38.99   
Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2011, Rioja $39.99
Charles Krug Cabernet 2016, Napa $30
Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella 2014 $60
Alion 2015, Ribera del Duero $125

Cheers! Silvina
#thoughtsoflawina #lifeisbetterwithlawina #winewednesday

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