We all love our wine and pairing a glass or two with a delicious home-cooked meal is always a sublime culinary experience. There are few joys greater than inviting friends and family over for some great food, great wine and great conversation.
While you might choose not to overthink what type of wine will go perfectly with your meal, you may be missing out on the most optimal dining experience. Certainly, some wines will go better with a specific dish than others and it never hurts to get educated on what the most harmonious pairings are.
Luckily, there’s a suitable wine for just about any kind of dish you can come up with. Whether spending hours in the kitchen perfecting a signature dish or just following HelloFresh simple recipes that will fill you up with the ingredients delivered to your door, it pays to have foreknowledge of what kind of wine will go best with your culinary creation.
Wine has a lot of different characteristics that separate different bottles from one another which can make the task of choosing the perfect candidate for dinner agonising if you’re too picky. Ultimately, your dinner guests are unlikely to express dissatisfaction with your choice simply because it wasn’t the most appropriate pairing for their meal, but choosing the right pairing will go a long way in enhancing their dining experience.
At the most basic level, we separate our choices into red wine and white wine. However, this is further broken down into fruity, dry and oak-aged varieties. Of course, knowledge of the specific grape variation used in each bottle and their individual traits will greatly assist you in finding a perfect pairing and it’s always worth undertaking a little research on this front.
Pairing similar flavours and aromas
The most obvious place to start is to find a wine that has a similar taste and aroma to the food you are serving. This helps to create consistency in your meal that won’t upset anyone’s palate and will greatly add to their experience.
For example, if serving fish with herbs and a generous helping of lemon, then it makes sense to go with a lighter wine that has a citrusy bouquet. If you’re going heavy with some smoked meat, perhaps choose a wine with an oaky, earthy bouquet.
Pairing with specific meats
Meat is by far the most appropriate food to serve with wine since it is most often the most expertly cooked element of a meal. However, different types of meat will suit different types of wine and you can get very specific here.
Lighter meats such as pork, chicken and fish should be paired with a wine that matches the taste and aroma of the seasoning you are using as this will be where all the flavour is. In the case of red meats, a dryer, tannic wine is more appropriate.
If the sauce base you are using includes wine, then it makes sense to go with the same or a similar wine as an accompanying beverage.
Pairing with spicy food
As a general rule, less alcoholic wines go best with spicier foods. This is because the alcohol content of the wine will bring out more of the oils in spicy food, potentially making the eating experience unpleasant.
This is important because you shouldn’t just choose a wine for its individual taste or alcohol content; you should choose it for its ability to complement the dish. While it’s always tempting to go with some highly alcoholic wine, if you’re serving a dinner party then it’s best to go with something that gives your guests the best possible experience.
Geographic and cultural pairings
Another logical place to start when pairing wine with your food is to look at the cultural and geographic influences behind the dish you are serving. If you’re serving Mediterranean food, pair it with a Mediterranean wine. If you’re serving a Northern European dish, serve a wine inspired by or from that specific cultural region.
Get an informed opinion
If trying to find the perfect wine to pair with your dish is getting too complicated, reach out to someone who knows what they’re talking about. This could be a professional chef, a wine connoisseur or just a friend you know has a background in this area.
There’s no shame in getting help and if you make sure you’re listening then you’ll become an expert yourself over time.