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Wine Pairing: How important is it?

At the basis of wine pairing, the general public can follow some basic rules and “get by” when choosing a wine with their meal. Use light wines with appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, reds with beef and whites with chicken for example. Some people even just find one favourite wine and just drink that with everything. What gets lost in all this generalization is the relationship that the science of winemaking has with the food it can accompany.

So yes, red wine does pair very well with red meat as an example. But, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why it does? What is it about the molecular structure of the beverage that makes it the perfect pair with your favourite steak dish? In this case, one needs to look no further than how the tannin compounds in red wine pairs with the fat compounds in meat to create a palate cleanser. Now, while the molecular compositions might take some of the joy of drinking wine away from some, noting how experts help you choose can change the experience of your next meal, party or social gathering.

Pairing theory says wine can be treated much like food. Wine, like food, has flavour, weight, aftertaste, structure and nuance. Many cantinas and winemakers provide you with these details (as do we when you visit our Shop Wine listings) and using that information, you can then make searching for how a grape and the level of acidity can effect wine pairing with your meal. When pairing dominant wine and food, think about whether the particular combinations complement each other and how. Are the similar or do they contrast? Without getting too into the science of it, let’s take a look at the “art” of it and here are a few tips to help you with your next meal:

  1.  Pair the level of richness in food with the feel of the wine. Delicate dishes (caviar, chicken) require light-bodied wines and rich food (steak, chocolate) with full-bodies wines.
  2.  Pair flavours in the food and wine. If you have a fruity topping for example, find a fruity wine.
  3.  Contrast isn’t a bad thing when pairing. Salty cheeses and sweet dessert wines are a great match!
  4.  AVOID vinegary dishes as they can make the taste of wine deteriorate after a few bites.
  5.  Match the country with the food. Eating a delicious Italian meal at your favourite local restaurant? Ask your server for their favourite Italian wine in the collection