If you forget to put salt in a dish it would taste different, right? Some people would be ok with it, some would hate it and have to add more. Same with vinegar on chips or a squeeze of lemon on seafood – too much would be a disaster but not enough and you’d be missing something.
There is another ingredient that could take a dish to another level. And it’s WINE – and we don’t mean adding it, we mean drinking it.
Finding a wine to match a dish does all of those things and then some. Except, like salt, it goes unnoticed. We tend to like something a bit more if the combination is right, and a bit less if it isn’t. Which is why a wine can taste amazing one day and a bit ordinary the next.
Fact: wine can make your cooking taste better, although, sadly, there isn’t a perfect recipe for exactly how to. The component parts of the wine – acidity, tannin, alcohol, sugar etc combine with the proteins, fats and acidity of your cooking to balance, smooth and lift the flavours. The problem is that there are so many wines, and so many ingredient combinations that it’s difficult to give hard and fast rules, and the old adage of white wine with fish and red wine with red meat just doesn’t cut it in today’s foodscape.
So here are some pretty good guidelines and our go to winelist.
Oil or fat need wines with acidity to take away the ‘greasiness’ – anything you might add a citrus or fruit sauce or vinegar to, needs a wine with some tang. Even reds.
Food that has texture needs wine with texture – a light wine will taste thin with a hearty dish and a big wine will overpower a light dish.
Chilli needs a wine with some sugar and lower alcohol– hot (spicy) food will make a wine that doesn’t have a bit of sweetness taste sour or bitter and the alcohol will make the food taste hotter. Fruity wines will do the trick (any colour).
Ever been to a restaurant or for dinner at a friend’s, fallen in love (with a wine), actually bothered to remember its name, scoured the internet, bought some and then been massively disappointed when you opened some at home? Yep, us too.
8 wines that will make your cooking shine
Riesling – Ideally dry/off dry German style. Amazingly versatile will go with spicy food, including nibbles and thai curries. It’s also the perfect partner to roast pork or pork belly.
Grüner Veltliner – Great with anything that needs a squeeze of lemon on. From fried and oily to seafood and scallops.
Chenin Blanc, ideally barrel aged – great for heavier food that needs a white. Roast chicken, roasted fish, creamy sauces.
Champagne – the ultimate fish and chips wine.
Fino – goes with everything IOHO (in our humble opinion)
Beaujolais – might sound old school but it’s back on trend. Great with charcuterie, slow cooks, roasted fish, veggie dishes.
Pinot Noir – Chile or New Zealand Pinot Noirs have a fruitier style. Great with lamb, duck and other meats that need a bit of acidity as well as oily fish.
Cotes du Rhone – You could go bigger than a CDR but you don’t really need to. Great with roasted meats, sausages and other heartier meals.
We could go on but we would rather hear what combinations you love or hate! Leave your comments or requests for food matches and we’ll send you our suggestions.
Need more inspiration? – the WineTubeMap app has a search function where you can type a food in and it will point you to some good wine choices. Find it in the App Store or google play.
Oh, and if you want more ideas and suggestions, matchingfoodandwine.com is a brilliant site.