An Expert Guide To Matching Food And Wine

In many cultures, wine has had a long history of being a staple at the dinner table, but rather than following a set of rules, local foods were simply paired with local wines. The ‘art’ of wine and food pairing is a relatively recent phenomenon, and the concept behind it is that certain elements like flavour and texture in both wine and food interact with each other.

Many wine experts believe it’s also about understanding the balance between the ‘weight’ of the food and the ‘body’ of the wine, and sommeliers (trained wine professionals), often go to great lengths to consider a variety of factors when pairing wine with certain types of food.

Like to know more? Here is an expert guide on matching food and wine.

Aperitifs

Aperitifs are alcoholic drinks enjoyed before a meal to stimulate the appetite, however they can also be continued to be served with the first course of a meal. In terms of wine and food combinations, try choosing aperitifs that are fairly high in acidity so they get your mouth watering!

Champagne or sparkling wine always sets the scene for a celebration, and other wines will get the tastebuds tingling as well. Sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot grigio and semillon varieties can all offer zesty, floral or citrusy notes that will prepare your palate for the delights of the meal ahead.

International cuisine

Many international cuisines are not only beautifully aromatic, heat, spiciness and sweetness are factors as well. These types of foods need wine and food combinations that suit the effect they will have on your palette.

Chinese dishes with sweet sauces will suit a light pinot noir, a refreshing rosé or a fruit-filled pinot gris. If you’re partaking in a spicy dish, try an aromatic red like a medium-bodied shiraz, mellow merlot or a juicy grenache. White wine varieties like rieslings, sauvignon blancs and chardonnays also work well with sweet and sour dishes.

If enjoying some Thai food, a zesty sauvignon blanc will be a safe bet for a classic Thai green curry, a crisp riesling offers an explosion of flavour with salt and pepper calamari, and a softer pinot noir or rosé will suit a spicy soup.

In terms of Indian food and wine pairing tips, a peaches-and-cream-style chardonnay will cut through a rich butter chicken, a zingy sav blanc balance hot, spicy prawns, and fleshy reds like a merlot or pinot noir will tame a very hot Indian dish.

Red meat dishes

If you are considering how to match food and wine and up for a light starter like a beef carpaccio, consider a pinot noir. For those who love indulging in a delicious steak or a classic roast beef, a soft fruity red like a shiraz grenache will work well, and beef dishes with creamy sauces work brilliantly with Spanish wines (like a Rioja).

Most medium-bodied reds work with lamb and Bordeaux blends are a classic option. Cab merlots work well with a lamb roast, team a robust shiraz with BBQ lamb, and if you are settling down to a comforting meal of lamb shanks, consider a rich shiraz, cabernet or grenache.

Both red and white wines work well with pork, including peppery shirazs with braised pork belly, full-bodied rosés with barbecued pork, and toasty chardonnays with a classic pork-and-apple-sauce combination.

If you are preparing a classic winter casserole, inexpensive reds work beautifully with just about any combination, including a chianti with osso bucco and a hefty shiraz with slow braised meats like beef cheeks and lamb shanks.

And when the weather warms up along with your BBQ, pair your steak or lamb chops with a medium red like a hearty grenache, or head straight for a ‘big’ red like a merlot or a cabernet sauvignon.

Poultry and game dishes

When it comes to matching food and wine when serving poultry and game, bear in mind that different flavours and textures are at play, which can be suited to a wide range of wines.

A pinot noir will work wonderfully well with roast chicken, fried chicken tastes even better with an oak-aged chardonnay, and if serving chicken with a creamy sauce, look no further than a chenin blanc.

Both duck and quail go well with grenache-based reds, and if you’re feeling a tad adventurous and enjoying kangaroo or goat, try a spicy grenache or a pinot grigio respectively.

Seafood dishes

A safe bet for shellfish dishes is always a classic dry white (like a sav blanc), and you simply can’t go past a prawn-and-rosé, an oyster-and-chardonnay or a calamari-and-sauvignon-semillon combination on a hot summer’s day.

Rieslings are ideal for fish like flathead, snapper or barramundi, sauvignon blancs for tuna, and if enjoying trout, try an oily aromatic white like a viognier.

Desserts

One of the best wine pairing tips when you are looking to match a wine to dessert is to go for something sweeter than the dessert! Champagne is simply wonderful combined with a light meringue, ice cream or a fruit-based dessert, and a botrytis riesling sensational with a lemon meringue pie. And for the chocolate lovers (and let’s face it, that’s most of us), try pairing a rich chocolately dessert with a sweet fortified red or even an orange muscat.

Cheese

Wine and cheese make a wonderfully classic combination, but pairing food and wine can be trickier than you think, particularly if you are serving a range of different cheeses.

Brie or camembert are ideal with crisp chardonnays, goats cheese is divine with a grassy semillon sauvignon, and mild cheeses suit elegant pinot noirs or soft grenache-based reds.

If you prefer a more robust cheese, combine a Spanish red with your mature cheddars, and a tasty port with stiltons and other strong blue cheeses.

Keen to enjoy a quality Australian wine from Kacy’s wine cellar? Contact the friendly team on (07) 4130 1100 to make a restaurant reservation.