Pairing food with alcohol has become quite the art over the years – and for good reasons. Different combinations create different results, from something outstanding to something wholly unique.
The simple truth is that the right pairing can enhance both the food and the alcohol. They complement or increase flavors, textures, and more. For those that have been curious about the idea of pairing, but are too afraid to try, here’s some good news: you’ve already been doing it! Humans pair food every day of their lives. The key difference here is adding alcohol into the mix.
One of the most common pairings to go with a lovely glass of chilled wine is a plate of cheese. This trend is famous for a reason – it works. However, this practice becomes more complicated when one considers the variety of wines and cheeses available. It’s okay to experiment with these combinations and see what suits your taste.
Bitter Versus Sweet
Here’s another thought to keep in mind; tannin is bitter. Tannins naturally come from grape skins, stems, and seeds. They are a large part of the wine-making process, as they add structure to the final result.
However, tannins, as mentioned above, are bitter. This is not a bad thing, of course. But it is important to remember that tannins can (and do) irritate the soft tissue of your mouth. So be careful when pairing wine with spicy foods. It is better to go with a sweeter wine when doing so, as the two will work together.
Some experts will state that wine should always be as sweet – if not sweeter – as the food paired with. Keep this in mind when choosing wine for dinner versus a wine for dessert. On that note, it is typically best to pair a lighter wine with desserts.
Impact and Body
Typically, wine is classified as one of three different body types – light, medium, or full. This is true of many spirits as well, for that matter—the weight of drinks matters when pairing them with food.
Part of what gives the body to wine and spirits is the alcohol content. This is especially important to consider when deciding what to serve alongside food. If the food is light or delicate, go for something with lower alcohol content. Likewise, if the food is on the heavier side, a higher content will complement the meal.