If you are new to the wine world, or just haven’t been too great a pairing, I have 4 simple tips that will make it easier to guide your guest through an exciting food and wine experience. I love the chemistry of food and wine together, it is a little burst of excitement in your mouth when you pick a perfect pairing. I enjoy pairing wine with food in layers, first, find out what the guest likes. Get the basics, red, white, compliment, and contrast. I always consider the protein type and its preparation first. Such as, full- flavored rib-eye grilled on an open flame or succulent pan seared scallops.
1. Decide whether the guest wants to enhance (compliment) the flavor of the food. Or whether they would like to contrast(cut) the flavor of a rich creamy dish.
2. Consider the protein first, for instance, chicken is prepared in many different styles at countless restaurants. Consider if the chicken is grilled, cold-pulled, or roasted. Chicken sometimes can have a metallic taste to it that can be enhanced by certain wines like Chennin Blanc or Gruner Veltliner. I would not pair this with a wine that has intense minerality to taste. Red meats always pair well with a meduim-full bodied reds. You may also want to consider a fleshy Rosé that has a syrah spice with a fruity finish for red meats. I love a savory, mouth-watering, NY strip steak dinner with my local favorite, Efeste’s Babbitt Rosé on a warm summer night. I would pair a full flavored rib eye with a spicy Malbec with forward fruit notes and a slightly sweet finish, or a juicy Bordeaux style, such as the Washington wine, Pomum.
3. Next, I consider the sauce(s) served with the dish, filet mignon is a very tender cut of steak but also one of the least flavorful. Which is why often you will see restaurants serve them with a demi-sauce or smothered in a yummy rub. The sauce is usually packed full of flavor , most times I like to cut the flavor with tannins and/or acid. Consider the type of sauce, is it butter based, broth based? I like to cut a rich demi-sauce with a complex Cabernet Sauvignon. I like to enhance a buerre blanc with a light vanilla and/buttery chard such as Del Rio (support local, this wine is from Rogue Valley, Oregon). A seafood dish with a nice beurre blanc would contrast well with a glass of tropical La Fiera Pinot Grigio that has a tart citrus finish.
4. Sides such as Brussels sprouts and Meyer lemon both of which are very bitter need to also be considered when pairing wine for your perfectly patient patron. You don’t want to pair a really tart Sauvignon Blanc or dry high acid Pinot Gris with either of these. I would stick these hard to pair sides with a tropical fruit forward Gewürztraminer that has an earthy body, with a kiss of sweetness to finish.
Practice these simple steps at home, at work, with friends and family. Oohlala, try different things, be adventurous, Have Fun!!! And then tell me about IT!!