Wine and Food Pairing Tips – Wines That Pair Well With Popular Cuisines
Wine and Food Pairing Tips
Wine and food pairing is rarely a simple task, particularly with the varied diets that most folks partake of today, both in terms of ingredients and cooking styles. What kind of wine, for instance, is best to pour with tom yam kung or a spicy curry ? Following, are some wine and food pairing tips that help to answer those questions.
But let’s start with something a lot more conventional. Everybody knows that cheese and wine are natural partners, like Fred and Ginger, they go with each other like peas and carrots, if you’re talking wine and food pairing tips, you’re talking wine and cheese, right? Well actually , that depends on what type of cheese and which wine.
Hard cheeses like aged Gouda or Mimolette are amazing with an aged Bordeaux or an excellent Syrah. As for blue cheeses, Roquefort and Sauternes is a classic pairing, Stilton and tawny port go well together, and for blue cheese in general, Malmsey Madeira is generally a good wine to go with. If you’re looking for a match for natural rind goat’s cheese, Sancerre or Soave are both good choices. For white, young Brie or Camembert, the best options are either a top quality Chardonnay or white Rhone, and for mature versions of these popular cheeses, red wine works better. I recommend a young Syrah, Grenache, or St-Emilion. If you’re serving a rindless fresh cheese, like cream cheese or mozzarella, then a simple Bordeaux blanc, white Rhone, or young Beaujolais are all good pairings .
Cheese is complicated, but Christmas dinner–turkey, gravy and all the trimmings–is easy. At least for my palate, there are a couple of wines that are the perfect compliment to a traditional Christmas dinner: high-quality Burgundy or vintage Veuve Clicquot rose Champagne. Neither of these two recommendations is cheap of course, but hey, Christmas is not a time to pinch pennies. That second, extremely specific recommendation is one I got from Ed McCarthy’s authoritative tome, Champagne For Dummies. I heeded his advice and was impressed at just how well the pairing worked. And fortunately, as vintage rose Champagnes go, Veuve Clicquot is moderately priced.
It’s time to take a look at which wines pair well with less traditional foods. As I talked about in the intro, a variety of ethnic cuisines are extremely popular these days. If you’re having sushi, or other Japanese food, I recommend pouring Japanese wine. Koshu, a white wine made from the Japanese grape of the same name, which is related to Sauvignon Blanc, is a great pairing for sushi.
A wine that pairs really well with Korean barbecue is a potent Californian Petite Syrah. Korean barbecue is a favorite treat with my family, and we usually pour a bottle of Eos Estate Reserve Petite Syrah with it.
For Thai cuisine, if the dominant flavors you’re attempting to pair with are lemon grass and ginger, then what you need is a pungent new world Sauvignon Blanc (preferably from New Zealand), or Riesling–either Australian or a German Spatlese. For dishes that contain coconut milk, Australian Chardonnay or Verdelho, Alsace Pinot Blanc or Gewurztraminer, or even non-vintage Champagne or Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine, are all excellent options.
In the case of Indian curry, try a medium-sweet white served very cold, such as, South African Chenin Blanc, Alsace Pinot Blanc, Cava or non-vintage Champagne. It is also possible to go the opposite route and emphasize the curry’s spiciness with a very tannic red such as Barolo or Barbaresco, or a full-bodied Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Amarone. As a rule of thumb though, white wines go better with hot and pungent dishes, and you particularly want to stay away from tannic reds.
Last but no least, let’s focus on one last popular food, or rather cooking style: barbecue. As is normally the case with wine-food pairings, it’s tricky to give a simple, definitive reply to the question, Which type of wine is best to serve at a barbecue? That of course primarily depends on what’s on the grill; the reply is not the same for tri-tip, shrimp and hamburgers. Another thing to consider though is whether you’re having a black tie or t-shirt barbecue. If you feel the need to be fancy, you can offer a classic Bordeaux blend with your steak, Pinot Noir with your Alaskan king salmon, or Alsace Riesling with your king crab and shellfish. If this is a more relaxed affair, then Zinfandel or Beaujolais are better selections. One great point about Beaujolais is that, despite the fact that it’s a red wine, it’s served chilled. That fact means that it’s a refreshing libation for a summer barbecue.
Speaking of wine and food pairing tips and wine tasting, the Santa Barbara Wine Country, with its large number of excellent wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms is a wonderful place to do just that. For tips on exactly which wineries to visit on a Santa Barbara wine tasting tour, click on the link.