On the topic of booze and chews: The low-down on pairing food and wine

pairing food and wine

Whether you prefer to cater for guests from the comfort of your own patio or go all out with a big venue; snacks and wine will always be a necessity! With spring being upon us, it is also the season of entertaining! Christmas, New Year, and a myriad of public holidays and celebrations mean that you will most likely be visiting people, or have visitors over, so it is definitely time to brush up on your catering skills! A cornerstone to good food and wine at an event is to pair the two correctly. Here is the low-down on correctly matching your food and wine, to make both all the better!

Enjoy the Pinot Noir earthy themes

The earthy flavours of a good Pinot Noir go perfectly with earthy flavours in food. Mushrooms, truffles and surprisingly, the smokey flavours of braai meat or smoked delicatessen meats go exceptionally well with the natural cherry hues of the wine. Enjoy it with traditional dishes like duck, quail, rabbit and other game meats. Serve this wine with the main meal, or with the starters, depending on your catering plans.

Champagne – Salt of the earth

Typically enjoyed as a celebratory drink, champagne is served before the main meal, rather than being used as a meal accompaniment. Therefore, it is important to take some time to pick out the perfect entrees to compliment the sparkling drink. The acidity of champagne makes it great to partner up with a salty snack as if you needed another reason to serve champagne with finger foods. A selection of biltong, nuts, and crackers with cheese will be perfect. Something sturdier, like the crackers, will also give your guests a chance to enjoy the delicious sparkle of the champagne without becoming too tipsy, too quickly.

Butcher Block, pairing food and wine

Cabernet Sauvignon

This rich, full-bodied wine is the perfect accompaniment to red meat, particularly those that are juicy. Definitely a good choice of wine to serve at dinner, and not before. The tannins in this beautiful ruby red offer a refreshing palate cleanser after a bite of meat, think lamb chops, or a rich, flavourful steak. Decanting this wine from the bottle adds an unmistakable touch of class to the meal too.

Comfort factor: Food and wine

If you want to dig into a delicious plate of rich, cheesy comfort food, and have your glass of wine too (because why choose, right?) the perfect wine for toasted sandwiches drenched in grease, or a slice of lasagne baked to perfection, is a glass of dry rose. Whether you choose to have dinner at home on the couch, or at a restaurant, the meal just wouldn’t be complete with the perfect glass of vino to wash it down.

Curry, wine and everything fine

Curry and chilli flavours make for a warm, satisfying meal. Adding the wrong wine to the dinner can ruin both the food and the drink, a balance which is especially tricky to achieve because of the uncanny ability of alcohol to further accentuate the hot factors in the flavour. This may sound like a brilliant dare, but it throws the balance of flavours right out of the window. Opt for a low-alcohol wine and enjoy both your meal and your drink.

pairing food and wine

Sauce and wines

If the meal you have prepared contains light, white meats like chicken, pair the wine with the sauce instead, as that will be the dominating flavour in the meal. Similarly, “The best way to pair wine with pasta is to ignore the pasta and pay attention to the sauce”.  Creamy sauces love Chardonnay, a good example being a carbonara sauce. Mushroom sauces, again as mentioned, with the earthy undertones, go well with a Pinot Noir or a Merlot. Pinot Grigio or Verdicchio go well with a slightly more acidic dressing, like a tomato-based sauce, like Napolitana. This may exclude sauces like Arrabiata which is a chilli, tomato, olive oil and garlic sauce. Opt for a wine that will balance the acidity of the tomato, a dry white usually works very well.

The bitter-sweet of it all

Bitter foods, like olives, and cocoa work wonderfully with the right wine. Balance the bitterness of the food with a sweet wine. When you are choosing a wine to serve with dessert, use an entirely different approach. Rather than matching the sweetness of dessert with an equally sweet wine, or a contrasting dry wine (logic figures you need to balance the tastes, right?) the best way to choose your wine for dessert is to keep your wine slightly drier than your dessert is sweet. If you are serving a very sweet dessert, like ice-cream, a Chardonnay will work well. If you are serving chocolate mousse, your dessert will have undertones that are earthy, but bitter, so choose a dry, earthy wine.

Wine, dine, and everything fine

Displaying your knowledge of wine-pairing doesn’t need to be limited to parties and hosting events at all. Pack a picnic to share with a loved one and find a quiet place outdoors you can both enjoy. Pour the perfect glass of vino to compliment the thoughtful snacks and treats you packed, and watch how incredibly well everything goes down. Remember, there are many reasons to enjoy a glass of wine, other than showcasing your classy new skills! See our blog: Wine for whines for more details! The next time you are at a restaurant, you can order the correct wine for your meal, and amaze everyone with your knowledge of food and finery!

pairing food and wine