We’ve all heard of how red wine and red meat go well together, or that you should only drink seafood with white wine or rosé – these wine and food combinations seem very important to the culinary world, but what exactly is the reason behind it?
Some of these suggestions may feel restrictive, and you should feel free to experiment however you want. It’s no exact science after all, but there are several reasons why people prefer to follow these pairings, so read below and decide for yourself whether you want to give it a try or not.
Food and drink enhance one another
The main reason wine and food pairings are so popular all around the world is because they can bring out the best in each other through carefully chosen combinations. While this can be subjective, there are some combinations that “just work” due to a number of factors.
For example, a great culinary experience is eating a dish together with a wine that shares similar features with some of the ingredients. The two will complement each other nicely, without bringing too many different flavours into your mouth. For example, red wine is sharper and so it will go very well with sharper-tasting cheeses like cheddar.
It’s not just wines and foods that complement one another that work together, as sometimes contrast is just as great. For example, red wine goes great with red meat for this exact reason: the tannins present in red wine cut through the fat and protein of the meat, and this also helps make those same tannins taste smoother. A nice, sweet wine like this Pet Nat can go really well with salty snacks, proving again that contrasting flavours can actually bring the best out of each other.
There is always balance between the two
We’ve talked a lot about how foods and drinks can either complement each other or, quite the opposite, contrast with one another. Still, no matter how you choose to go about your food adventures, there should always be a perfect balance between the two.
For example, the acidity or the sweetness of the wine and food must be considered in order to make a good pairing. You don’t want an acidic wine to completely overpower the taste of your dish, and you wouldn’t want the sweetness of a meal to give the wine a bland taste. Balance is essential and is also one of the things that makes wine and food pairing so difficult to get right.
Sometimes, they tell a story
This may sound cheesy, but the truth is, certain foods and wines paired up together can tell a story about a certain region of the world, and its culture and history. The best wines are usually crafted in similar ways to the way they were a long time ago, to preserve the taste but also the local traditions – and a lot of these wines tend to pair up well with local ingredients as well. That’s why, while in France for example, consider pairing local dishes with wines from nearby vineyards, to get an authentic eating experience, rooted in culture and tradition. Lots of restaurants will opt for these local combinations anyway, as it helps them preserve a more traditional feel for tourists and locals.
These types of local pairings also promote sustainability and empower the local communities, so you can feel like your food experience not only tastes amazing, but also makes a difference.