Wine Pairing Tips — Basic Basics

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I’m working on a feature article about summer wine and food pairings, so I’ve been having fun doing a little wine research. The article is mainly focused on Georgia wineries and seasonal cuisine, but I’ve also done some background research on basic tips for the wine novice.

Here are a couple tips:

  • “If it grows together, it goes together.” Pairing regional foods and wines is a good place to start.
  • Consider the weight and volume. If you’re having a heavier meal, go for a heavier, full-bodied wine. If you’re having a light meal, sip a lighter wine with it. The wine and food should complement one another. Neither should overpower the other.

And when it comes to flavors, here are a few basic guidelines:

  • Spicy dishes generally go well with sweet wines. If you pair a spicy dish with an acidic wine, beware. The acid will enhance the spice even more.
  • Salty dishes are also balanced well by sweeter wines.
  • Acidic foods such as salads or tomato sauces pair well with acidic wines.
  • Fatty, oily foods also go well with acidic wines as the acid cuts the fattiness of the food.
  • For Dessert: The wine should be as sweet as or sweeter than the dessert.

While a few guidelines make for a good starting point, most wine enthusiasts will agree: “When it comes to wine, I tell people to throw away the vintage charts and invest in a corkscrew. The best way to learn about wine is the drinking.” – Alexis Lichine

While this is great advice, it can be a little overwhelming, so my favorite resource is What to Drink with What you Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. A wine writer at a wine festival in South Carolina recommended it to me a couple years ago, and it’s great. It has two extensive indexes: one for looking up wines and finding food pairing recommendations and the other for looking up food and finding wine recommendations. The lists are pretty comprehensive – from tuna to cilantro to kiwis to fried chicken and everything between.

Happy Wine Tasting!

 Wine Glass

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