Perfectly pairing a meal with wine comes down to one simple rule of thumb; and it is not what you would expect. To anyone who thinks the answer to selecting the right wine is: red wine for red meats and white wine for seafood, smack yourself on the back of your hand for me. This is not the way you pair wine with a meal and if you have been following this, you have been robing yourself of some sublime flavour pairings. Actually, the basis for the perfect pairing of food and wine is to start with a wine you love. Yeah, I know, it is very anti-climatic. There must be more to it? Well, if you were asking that question, you would be right. This is just the foundation from which you build upon. The first of three steps to creating the perfect pair every time.
Once you have that wine you love selected you need to consider its qualities. And I am not talking about whether it has a good personality, sense of humour, great body and likes long walks on the beach. Well I kind of am. You see, wine-makers love to talk about their wines as if they are people. If you have ever spoken to a sommelier they tend to cherish their wines as their ultimate creations. Yes, it leads to some strange conversational points but this obsession or devotion means they love to describe their wines on their bottles. This makes step 2 of wine pairing all the more easy. You can usually find this description, which can sometimes read like an online dating profile, on the back label. Try and siphon through the use of romantic language to find the true grit of whats in the bottle and ask yourself what kind of flavour does it have? If you arent familiar with wine language when they use the words notes or undertones that is usually where you get the best indication. So, if a wine maker describes a wine as having smoky and woody undertones and notes then it is a safe bet this baby will go great with a meaty dish.
The third step comes easiest, as it is something we instinctively do; check out the body. Come on, admit it, we are all guilty of it! Did you know wines have a body too? And its not the bottle. The body of wine refers to its weight and alcohol content. Why does this matter? What does this have to do with pairing wine with food? Well, the way to perfectly pair your wine with food is to match weight with weight. So, while it is the easiest it is really the most vital. You have your wine, you have picked a wine you absolutely love and you know its flavour, now what you need to ask yourself is: does this wine have a low alcohol content and is it light bodied (dry)? Or, is this wine full bodied (ripe and creamy textured) and have high alcohol content? Once you have this answered all you need to do is match! Pair your light dishes (raw/fresh, low fat and crunchy) with you light wines. Conversely, pair your foods that contain a lot of dairy or animal fats and rich sauces with your full bodied wines.
The Cheat Sheet
When all else fails look to our safety net: the cheat sheet of wine pairing. These are the most versatile of wines than can accompany most dishes without disaster.