The subtle art of fine food is all about striking a balance between flavors and textures. And no more is that clear than when it comes to pairing your dish with the right wine. Of course, we've all been told that we're supposed to drink white wine with fish and red wine with red meat. And while this is somewhat of a safe assumption, there's a lot more to consider when it comes to choosing a bottle. Wine and food pairing is a balancing act, more of an art rather than an exact science. The next time you host a dinner party for your friends—perhaps grilling the perfect Tuscan steak—you'll want to ensure that you balance and enhance the flavors of the meal. Not just on the plate but in the glass as well. And while there are no hard and fast rules for food and wine pairings, these simple guidelines can help you with the process.
What Grows Together Goes Together
This one's an old rule—an expression used by chefs and wine lovers alike—but a solid tip nonetheless. There's a natural, organic relationship between the food grown in a particular region and the wine that's produced there. The agriculture and grapevines share the same terroir (climate, soil and geography), so they both have flavors that complement each other.
Smoke with Oak
Grilled foods, barbecue or any items cooked in a wood-burning oven pair well with wines that have been aged in oak like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Tempranillo. Oaked wines can be a little bold (and overwhelming to some dishes), but char-grilled foods tend to tone down that woody intensity, bringing out the lighter fruit flavors instead.
Cut the Fat with Acid
Fried, rich or fatty foods should be paired with a zesty, acidic wine like Sauvignon Blanc or wines that are high in tannin such as Cabernet Sauvignon. The acids and tannins cut through the richness of the foods and essentially act as a palate cleanser so you're not overwhelmed by the heavier flavors. These also tend to work with dishes with a similar degree of acidity or bitterness like salads dressed with vinaigrettes, sharp cheeses or marinated meats.
Don't forget the water when you're serving wine. When sipped in succession with a glass of vino, the taste and texture of a cold, refreshing water can enhance the pleasure of any meal. Food and wine interact to impart different taste characteristics through each other, while water is meant to cleanse the palate and enhance the interacting traits of food and wine.
A naturally-carbonated mineral water like San Pellegrino, with its crisp yet slightly salty taste is meant to be paired with full-bodied wines rich in tannins so the two liquids do not impose on each other.
Flat water often has a low mineral count, a neutral pH and a subdued, clean taste. These waters pair well and provide a nice contrast to a brighter and/or sweeter white wine, rosé or sparkling wine.
This post is sponsored by San Pellegrino. Practice the Art of Fine Food, every time you can.