After bottling this passed weekend, I can finally start focusing on my upcoming Wine & Junk Food Pairing event happening March 30th! (Click here to view)
I’m really excited about this class because I get to share with you all one of my favorite parts about wine, pairings!
Studying as a sommelier, I learned how to properly taste wine, evaluate it and find the best foods for it, and the best settings to enjoy the wine. So I wanted to do a quick dive into how wine pairings work…
In a complimentary pairing, you’re looking for notes in the wine and food that are the same. For example, Sauvignon Blanc generally has quite a green complex to it with flavors of bell pepper and jalapeño. So, you might want to pair it with something leafy and green like a fresh salad or with a crudités board.
In another complimentary example, you can use Syrah. Syrah is usually quite bold and has a savoriness to it powered by black and white peppercorn notes alongside black and red fruits with a hint of meatiness. Syrah is a great pairing with lamb chops. This big wine has a lot of flavor not to be outmatched by such a flavorful dish. The lamb has a hint of gaminess which will act playfully with the Syrah.
Contrasting pairings are the most intriguing in my opinion. Complimentary is going to be flavor driven while contrasting is working with the texture and palate aspect of the wine.
When specifically working with contrasting pairing you’re going to focus on the acid, tannin, body and sugar of the wine. You’ll be focusing on the fat, salt, heat and sugar of the food. Here’s a quick map of how those ones play out:
Here’s a few examples of how these pairings work:
If you have a food like goat cheese that’s high in fat, rich in texture and flavor, and salty, you can pair it with a Sauvignon Blanc which is usually high acid. This will help break down the fattiness and cleanse your palate without being too showy. They work well together.
A very popular example is with heat. Spicy foods work well with fat or sugar. Since you don’t have fat in wine, sugar is the best bet! With an off-dry riesling, or sparkling wine of extra dry or higher sugar level (like Prosecco or an Extra Dry Cava or Champagne), you can balance out the heat on spicy foods making it easier to enjoy. People love to pair Thai Food with Riesling.
And finally, the most unique pairing, the cultural pairing. We know that wine is cultural. It generally gets its flavor profile from the area around it. Historically speaking, the only wine grown in a specific region was wine that naturally came from the region: i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux, Riesling in Mosel, Tempranillo in Spain. Over time, wines have been adopted and through nurseries and science, we’ve found ways to plant those varieties wherever we wish. But the cultural pairing is one of significant importance and one I continually recommend to those who travel. Wine is part of a larger picture: the taste of a place.
When you go to New York, you get pizza and bagels. When you go to Wisconsin, you get cheese. When you go to Italy, you eat pasta. So, when you go to a place that has such a cultural identity, it is best to enjoy the wines in such a fashion. Some of these pairings are Chianti with Spaghetti Bolognese, German Riesling with steak, Muscadet with Clams or Oysters, and Pinot Noir with Salmon (yes you read that right, you can enjoy red wine with fish!)
There’s no science to this pairing, it’s purely a historic measure. That’s kind of what I like about it. I mean, we tell everyone to drink our rosé with an In n Out Double Double! That’s our culture…and I’m proud of it!
So I hope this helped you with some pairing information. But, if you want to learn more, make sure to sign up for our Junk Food and Wine pairing class!