The Wine and Spirits CellarTips on Wine Pairing

July 16, 2021
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Tips on Wine Pairing

The Wine and Spirits Cellar

Our team has years of dedicated experience helping guests find the right beverage for the right occasion.

Tips on How to Pair Wines

Consider the Intensity

FOOD: Is the food super light or super rich? A salad may seem lighter, but perhaps the dressing is balsamic vinaigrette with high acidity. If the intensity of the dish isn’t obvious at first, just focus on the power of each taste component (acidity, fat, sweet, etc).

WINE: Is the wine light or bold? Here are a few examples:

  • Sauvignon Blanc is light-bodied, but it has higher acidity
  • Chardonnay has more body, but it’s usually not too acidic
  • Pinot Noir is lighter bodied (for a red wine) and it doesn’t have too much tannin (bitterness).
  • Cabernet Sauvignon is more full-bodied and has high tannin (more bitterness)
Find Contrasting or Congruent Pairings
Now that you’ve identified all the basic taste components in your dish, you can start playing around with pairing options. The simple example of the baked macaroni will offer up several possible pairings:
 
COMPLEMENTARY PAIRING: A white wine with high acidity will complement the fat in the macaroni.
 
CONGRUENT PAIRING: A white wine with creaminess will add to the creaminess in the dish.

Getting Creative

Once you create balance with the major taste components in both the wine and the dish, you can get creative by pairing the more subtle flavors. Here are some examples using variants of mac and cheese:

BOLD RED WINE: The ideology behind this pairing is that the high bitterness (tannin) will be balanced out by the salt and fat in the macaroni. This balancing will leave you with the remaining subtle flavors to pair with in the cheese and wine. So, for example, if your baked macaroni has smoked gouda in it, you might choose a Shiraz which also has smokiness in it (on the finish). The smoky flavors combine to create a Congruent Pairing while the tannin in the wine creates a Complementary Pairing with the fat in the dish.

SWEET WHITE WINE: The ideology behind this pairing is to bring out the sweet and salty flavors with a pairing. For example, a mac and cheese with ham would match well with a zesty white wine with some sweetness like Riesling. The acidity would create a Complementary Pairing to the fat and the sweetness would act as a Congruent Pairing to the ham.

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