Pairing wines and dishes is an art form. Whether it’s pair a glass of white wine with a salmon dish or pair a Merlot with a delicate skirt steak. Wine that you pair with food has to complement the flavours in your meal. It must not overpower them or it will be bland. You want the spices and flavour in your dish to shine through.
Pork, beef and seafood all have their subtle flavours. When matching a wine to a fish recipe, take into account the thickness of the meat and also any seasonings such as season salt, pepper, oregano or herbs like Rosemary, thyme etc. For more intense flavours pork can overpower the delicate flavour of the wine. Fish that have a bit of the flavour of their own such as scallops, oysters, cod, salmon, trout, haddock, etc., can also be pair wine with chicken and fish to create a symphony of flavour. If you’re using a Pinot Noir with pork it should be complemented by the delicate soy sauce.
If you’re having a fish night, pair wine with fish in the Rhine wine and cheese platter. This can be a great way to incorporate Rhine wine into your cooking without overwhelming your food. You can pair a light red wine with sweet pepper cheeses to have a sweet, fruity Rhine wine. You could also pair a medium-bodied wine with a bold green salad to have a richly flavoured Rhine wine. Another excellent food pairing is a Riesling with wild rice or baked potatoes, a sweet potato, roasted sweet potatoes or a tossed salad.
Pairing chocolate with red wine is also very interesting. It can be an easy way to include chocolate into your meal and still have a delicious meal. The most common pairings for chocolate are rich dark chocolate, nutty flavours and Riesling.
Cabernet Sauvignon and its close relative, pinot noir, also pair well with bold red wines. Pinot noir has a high tannin content and is well known for its ability to dry out the mouth when consumed. That said, many people enjoy the flavour of high-tannin wines like the Cabernet and pair them with either a Riesling or a Pinot Noir. Cabernet Sauvignon also has a nice balance of acidity and herbal/floral flavours.
Salted dishes are always a good accompaniment to white wine. Pairing salty dishes with any of the above white wines works especially well. Salts like Herring, pickled garlic, crisps, chow or the even spicy varieties of salt all pair well with a dry Riesling.
Many of the above dishes also have a high vinegar content. That means you should pair salty foods with heavier dry wines like Chardonnay. When you pair wine with food, which also have a high vinegar content, you get an amalgamation of flavours rather than a single flavour. This type of wine pairing is somewhat of a misnomer since the taste of vinegar and food are so different. Rather than an “application” of vinegar with food, this type of wine pairing is an interpretation of the food and vinegar’s flavour profile.
Most pair wine with great dishes, however, certain dishes will stand out as being great pairings. Spicy dishes provide an excellent base for spicy dishes and the acidity in these dishes provide a clean canvas for the flavours of the wine. Pairing with citrus sauces is also a good idea since the acidity of these sauces will tend to clean out the palate. Salsa will typically pair well with fruity reds and white wines are generally a great match for citrusy dishes.