A variety of wine styles allows you to choose the perfect pair for almost any dish. But a huge choice gives rise to confusion: what is better to combine with what? In this article, together with Fortnum & Mason, we will look at the basic rules. They will help you find the perfect balance and avoid common mistakes.

It is difficult to spoil the dish by adding wine, but food often can easily “kill” wine. Make it rough, colorless, or pungently alcoholic. Despite all the principles of combinations that will be described below, it is worth warning that they are not the ultimate truth. When combining food and wine, it is worth considering the individual characteristics of the perception of certain tastes in different people. Personal preferences, dislike of certain tastes or hypersensitivity to a certain component play an important role in the selection of gastronomic pairs. What one person thinks is a great combination, another may not like it at all. By the way, wines for every taste can be found on the Fortnum & Mason website.

General Concepts About Combinations

There are two ingredients in food. They improve our perception of wine and are generally friendly to gastronomic dinners and lunches – salt and acidity. With salty foods, dry wines tend to be softer, fuller, fruitier, and also less acidic. Example: salted salmon and pink Côte de Provence, goat cheese and white Sancerre.

The acidity of food also plays well with wine, the main rule here is that wine should be more acidic than food. Example: fish with lemon juice and Sauvignon Blanc. These and other wines can be ordered on the Fortnum & Mason website.

In contrast to two friendly factors, there are those that complicate the choice of wine. One of them is sugar. When paired with sweet foods, dry wines will appear harsh, sour, and bitter. Moreover, the sensation of alcohol in the mouth will increase. Here’s the secret why you don’t like wine when you eat it with a cake. For desserts, it is necessary to select sweet wines, moreover, sweeter than the dish itself. Example: Amarone and chocolate fondant, Tarte Tatin and Sauternes.

Umami, a fifth flavor found in high-protein foods, is also potentially harmful to wine. Unlike sugar, which we clearly feel in food, umami is secretive, it is sometimes quite difficult to distinguish or describe it. Typically, the umami sensation comes from monosodium glutamate, a flavoring agent. We can also feel umami in mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, and other protein-rich foods. For these products, it is better to choose soft red wines with low tannins or light whites. Example: asparagus with hollandaise sauce and sylvaner.

Another thing is that you can increase the gastronomy of dishes rich in umami thanks to the same salt. In this case, red meat, seafood, or Parmesan become more versatile for wine. In the Fortnum & Mason online store, you can order different types of wine for any dish.

Bitter and spicy, unfortunately, are also at risk. Bitterness in food increases the taste of tannins in wine. And chili makes the wine sharp, unpleasant and provokes a burning sensation from alcohol. With spicy food, it is best to take wines with low alcohol and bright aromatics. A classic pairing with Asian spicy dishes is German Riesling with residual sugar or Gewürztraminer.

Basic Principles of Wine & Food Pairings

Now let’s look at the specific rules, thanks to which you can choose the right harmonious wine pair for any occasion.

Simple With Simple, Complex With Complex

Of course, drinking Barolo with a sandwich seems to be a special chic, something unusual and rebellious. Nevertheless, if you go the traditional way, then simple inexpensive wines are the best fit for simple dishes. For example, a burger with a beef patty can be paired with Malbec from Cahors or Australian Shiraz. And for Margherita pizza – light Pinot Grigio or Verdejo.

When it comes to intricate dishes close to haute cuisine, choose a more refined wine. White or black truffle definitely calls for elegant Pinot Noir from Burgundy or Piedmontese Nebbiolo, lobster for creamy Pouilly-Fuisse or Puligny-Montrachet, and quail with berry sauce for structured and noble Côte Roti or Saint Joseph Syrah. Wines for any dish, both simple and haute cuisine, can be ordered on the Fortnum & Mason website.

Principle Of “Mirror” And Contrast

One of the principles says that food and wine should be equally bright and rich, so that no one pulls the blanket over themselves, but, on the contrary, everyone is in complete agreement. For example, red, medium-bodied or full-bodied Bordeaux goes great with lamb – both have a rich, bright taste and dense structure. And scallops in a creamy sauce with oak-aged Chardonnay, as both the dish and the wine are creamy.

On the other hand, many pairings are built just on the contrast, say, curry and light floral Pinot Blanc from the Rheingau.

In subsequent articles, we will cover the topic of pairing wine and food in more detail. However, in the Fortnum & Mason online store, you can order any type of wine. Follow the link!


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