If you’ve ever dug into the science of wine, you’ll know that its makeup is complex. From proteins and sugars to acids, yeast, and minerals, wine has so many different compounds that it can be hard for even enthusiasts to pick out distinct flavors, let alone beginners.
In other words, if you’re struggling to find the right food and wine pairing, you get a free pass!
Because each wine has its own distinct layers of complicated flavors, finding the right match for your favorite meals can be tricky. However, the science of wine and food pairing can often be more straightforward than you’d think.
Whether you’re hunting down the perfect Sedona wine to go with dinner or trying to decide what to serve with dessert, here are the wine pairing tips you need to know.
Consider What You’re Pairing
If you have a complex dish, simplify your wine pairing by choosing a single element to partner your wine with. This is especially true if you’ll be serving a single wine alongside an entree with multiple sides.
It’s best to choose a dish’s most prominent or flavorful element. For some dishes, this may mean pairing your wine with the sauce instead of the meat, fish, or pasta itself. This is also why you should pair a wine with your dressing, not with the salad’s ingredients.
Choose the Type of Food and Wine Pairing
There are two ways to consider how a wine’s flavors should pair with a dish.
Contrasting wine pairings, as the name suggests, will contrast the flavors of your wine with your meal. This can create an interesting balance that makes both the food and wine stand out on the palate. Eating salty caviar paired with dry champagne, for example, can bring out the unique flavors of each.
Congruent wine pairings, on the other hand, will amplify each other. For example, pairing a sweet wine with a dessert will amplify the flavors in each. Likewise, a citrusy wine will often pair well with a lemon vinaigrette dressing.
Know the Basic Flavor Profiles
It might sound obvious, but one of the most important steps to a great wine and food pairing is to consider the flavor profiles you’re throwing together. Based on the flavor profile of the dish you’re serving, here’s what to keep in mind:
Salty foods pair well with sparkling or acidic wines. The amount of salt, however, can play a role in how the wine tastes alongside the dish.
Fat is absent from the flavor profiles of all types of wine. This makes it ideal for complementary wine pairings, as many different wines play well with fatty foods. Wines rich in tannins are also a great choice for beginners hoping to find a good pairing.
Pairing wine with acidic food can sometimes be tricky. You’ll want to choose a wine variety with a similar acidity to your dish.
Also called “heat,” this food flavor profile can also be tough to pair with wine. The layered flavors of spicy foods can sometimes cut through the sweet flavors of wine to make the wine taste bitter.
However, wines that have a lower alcohol and tannin content can reduce the sensation of heat, balancing out the dish. Fruity or crisp wines can also be a safe bet.
Sweet wines are perfect for congruent pairings, so don’t be afraid to pair one with chocolate from your favorite shop. Make sure you’re choosing a wine that isn’t as sweet as the food, and opt for a bottle with low tannin levels.
Avoid congruent pairings with bitter dishes. Sweet or high-acidity wine options can work well, though you’ll again want to avoid high tannin levels.
Focus on the Intensity
The wine you’ve chosen should always match the intensity of the flavors in your dish. This can create a balanced dining experience in which every aspect seems to play well together.
Savoring food can become difficult, for example, when a bold red wine overpowers all of a dish’s delicate flavors. The opposite is also true: a white wine with a subtle flavor may not be the best choice when you’re eating a highly acidic food or a dish with rich, hearty flavors.
Consider a Classic Wine and Food Pairing
If you’re still having a hard time deciding on a food and wine pairing, don’t hesitate to fall back on a classic choice. There are a few tried-and-tested combinations that every wine enthusiast will agree on, meaning you can’t go wrong with them for your meal.
For example, red wine’s flavors pair well with red meat, while white wine pairs well with white meat. Sweet wines pair well with fruity or sweet dishes, and sparkling wines are great at cutting through the intensity of salty or savory dishes.
Break the Rules
Last, but certainly not least, here’s one of the most important wine pairing tips of all: don’t be afraid to break the rules, even the ones we’ve listed above!
Despite what some wine connoisseurs may try to tell you, there’s no single “right” way to pair wine with food. Drink and eat what you love, and you’ll find it easier and easier to find great pairings for your dining experience.
Even better, different wines may bring out specific flavors of a dish. Here’s an example: a red wine may bring out the flavor of a pasta’s smoked gouda, while a sweet wine might bring out the fat and salt of the ham in the dish. The wine pairing decision becomes a matter of taste and preference, then, instead of a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
Expand Your Palate With Sedona Wines
As you work to figure out the best food and wine pairings, you’ll find that testing different wines and dishes can help broaden your palate and make every pairing easier. With more experience trying a wider range of wines, you’ll become better and better at understanding when to pair each with your favorite meals.
That’s where Wine Tours of Sedona comes in. We’ll help you try a delicious variety of Sedona wines alongside optional dining experiences. Book a tour today to further your experience with wine and food pairings!