7 Most Important Factors of Pairing Wine and Food

People have been pairing wine and food for centuries. Over the years, the connoisseurs of wine have listed out which wines go best with what type of food.

White wine with fish and white meat, Red wine with red meat, and sweet wine with sweets and desserts. These traditional rules were formed in the days when the local and regional cuisines were the only cuisines appreciated with excellent local or regional wines.

Today, there are diverse styles of wines available in the market as compared to 30 years ago, since many new countries with expertise in modern techniques of winemaking and new blends of grapes have joined the band of winemaking and the new blends grapes have joined the band winemaking countries.

What are the Factors in Pairing Wine and Food

Though the traditional rules prevent beginners from making an awful selection of wine for their food, they would be able to make even better choices if they know the food and wine pairing basics.

While pairing wine and food, one should consider the acidity, sweetness, weight, intensity, and tannin of the wine and analyze the texture, flavor, fat content, sweetness, and saltiness of the food that is going to accompany it.

In general, white wines are more acidic than red wines and they are available in light, medium, and heavy styles with a dry, medium, and sweet taste. Red wines are more tannin and most red wines undergo malolactic fermentation to soften their acidic level.

Food also has sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and bitter tastes with various textures. Some food has more plant fat, whereas some are rich in animal fat.

Factors that should be considered while pairing wine and food:

1. Acidity

All wines have an acidity of varying levels. Some are high-acid wines and some are low-acid wines. Food also has acidity. Food with noticeable acidic levels needs a wine with noticeable acidity.

Otherwise, the taste of the food will dominate the taste of the wine and make it dull and lifeless. For example- Lemon chicken needs a wine of higher acidity to accompany the dish than chicken with truffles. Tomato dishes need acidic wine and so do fish preparations.

2. Tannin

Acidity in food does not go well with the tannin present in wine. Therefore, acidic food should not be served with red wine. However, low tannin and light reds may be suggested if any guest wants to drink red wine with acidic food. Tannin does not go well with fish.

For this reason, red wines are not recommended with fish. The bitterness in wine is derived from tannin. Tannin contributes to the texture and astringent taste. It enhances the body or weight of the wine. Tannin wines pair well with meat and protein foods.

3. Texture or Weight

Foods and wines have a texture that can be felt when we taste them. Some foods are creamy or fatty in the mouth while others are very simple.

These textures must be considered while pairing the dishes and wines. A dry Chenin Blanc fermented in stainless steel will be light in texture. Wines with 12.5 percent abv and above are considered heavy and ones above 11 percent abv as light.

4. Flavor

The flavors of the dishes and the wines must be considered while matching them. A heavy wine, such as Spanish Rioja Reserva, will dominate the light oyster’s preparations, and light wine, such as Muscadet, will be out of place when served with heavily flavored beef goulash. Some dark and meaty textured fish, such as tuna, may be served with red wine.

5. Fat

The food must be analyzed for its fat content. Fatty food can be served with acidic wine which counteracts the fattiness.

The crisp acidity of the wine acts as contrast cuts through the creaminess of the sauce and gives a different sensational taste. Tannin in red wine has the same influence as white wine.

6. Sweetness

The sweetness of the wine must be matched by the sweetness of the dish. The desserts have differing degrees of sweetness and acidic levels. Peaches are lower in acidity as compared to raspberry.

Sweet wines offered must be sweeter than the dish they are served with. Some dishes, such as foie grass, duck, and vegetable dishes, especially root vegetables, etc are slightly sweet and these dishes can be paired with a slightly sweeter wine. For vegetable dishes, medium-sweet rose wines go well.

7. Problem Dishes

Wines, of course, do not go well with all types of food. If served with certain foods, the wines will taste dull and flavors can’t be enjoyed.

The following foods do not go well with the wine:

  1. Chocolates.
  2. Egg, especially boiled egg.
  3. Highly acidic foods such as relishes and salads dressed with very sharp dressing.
  4. Very spicy foods.

Chocolate and boiled eggs coat the taste buds on the tongue. The food soused in vinegar and another seasoning can’t be served with any wine, even highly acidic wines do not go well with them.

Dipayan Mondal
Dipayan Mondal

Dipayan is the author of this blog. He completed his hotel management degree from GNIHM, Kolkata. And he is very passionate about the hospitality industry. And right now, he is working as a successful hotelier in a 5-star hotel.