Wine & Dine: An Introduction to Wine Pairing

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Sharon Horev
Rebecca Maloof
The culinary arts are just as solid of an art form as any others, and sometimes they don't get the recognition they deserve. One way to brush up on your art is to become well-versed in all forms of it. The study of wine alone is an art, and the precision and skill it takes to become a sommelier are admirable. While we might not all be able to dedicate ourselves that intensely to wine, it's quite easy to have a basic understanding of the art of wine. 

Trying to learn about different wines can feel daunting, especially because wine, and knowledge of it, have always had a sort of pretentious undertone. However, it's pretty simple to learn the basics of wine and food pairing. Think about the image above; at first glance, it seems just a typical photo of a wine glass and bottle or carafe; however, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that both the glass and bottle are actually formed out of spoons. An artistic expression of wining and dining, if you will. 

This is a perfect example of the unity and connection between food and wine, and how each of them balances the other out. True culinary aficionados know this, and it is vital while beginning to delve into the world of wine to understand this critical relationship. 

Different wines pair better with specific foods. But, it's important to remember that there aren't really any rules, and there is definitely room to play around and have some fun. 

To start, let's dive into red wines. Red wines, although they vary, are, overall, consistently paired with certain foods. Of course, more bold, heavy reds, like Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, will pair well with heavier dishes, including red meat and starches. But, there are also lighter wines, like Pinot Noir, that will still pair well with heavier dishes and nicely with poultry, cured meats, and roasted vegetables. This is just an introduction to pairing, so while there are many variations of reds, it's critical to remember the basics of what they pair well with as a good starting point. 

Similar to red wines, white wines have their favorite foods to pair with. A simple way to remember, is white wines go with white meats, while red wines go with red meats. This is a vague way to categorize but is a great place to start when getting into wine. Also, similar to red wines, white wines are going to organize into "lights" and "rich whites" or "bold" whites, meaning: heavier. An example of a light white would be a Sauvignon Blanc, while a rich white would be a Chardonnay. It's significant to distinguish between these heavier and lighter whites to properly pair. Though, a good rule of thumb is to remember that white wines pair nicely with poultry, seafood, and pork, as well as lighter sauces and vegetables. 

Now, rosé is the perfect wine to sip on during the day. This wine, which also has lighter, and heavier variations, is almost always going to pair seamlessly with seafood, soft cheeses, and citrus. This wine is very adaptable and will pair well with virtually everything, so there is room to get creative with recipes. Rosé is arguably the most versatile wine and can pair well with most dishes. 

Sparkling is, without a doubt, the most fun out of this group, and whether you're trying to pair a sparkling wine or champagne with a dish, many foods pair well with bubbly. Sparkling wines, similar to rosé, are versatile. These wines are paired best with salty foods. Think nuts, cheeses, olives, even anything fried. Sparkling wines and champagnes also work well with intense flavors, such as truffle and umami. They can work with seafood, red meats, and everything in between. 

When starting to expand your wine knowledge, the best thing to remember is that the wine should always be sweeter and more acidic than the food you are pairing it with. If you stick by that, you will find yourself satisfied with whatever pairing you choose.

By Rebecca Maloof

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