Pairing wine and food can make a great meal spectacular, but choosing food and wine pairings can be overwhelming. Many people are aware that certain wines and foods can and should be paired, yet they are unsure of how to do so. Restaurants can have extensive wine lists, and many liquor stores and supermarkets now carry a vast array of different wine varietals at every price point. With some basic guidance and principles, however, you can pair the right wine with food groups and recipes to enhance the flavor of each. Why Pair Your Food and Wine? In the best pairings, the flavor of the wine elevates that of the food, and vice versa; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. These enhancements are made using flavor connections and contrasts between wine and food, known as “flavor bridges.” The flavors in your wine of choice can mirror those in your food, or complement them. Think of the dominant flavors of your dish, and find a wine with similar or contrasting characteristics. You can also consider the overall “weight” of both the wine and the food to allow each element of the meal to shine equally. For example, pairing a rich, heavy or full-bodied wine with a light dish can make the meal seem out of balance. In some cases, flavors in your food can dull the flavor of your wine, and vice versa. For example, a sweet food can dull the sweetness of a dessert wine, and can make a dry wine appear positively bitter. Even the alcohol content can affect your choices. For example, many spicy foods pair best with wines with lower alcohol content, as alcohol can further intensify their heat. Traditional (and Non-Traditional) Wine Pairing Some of the traditional basics of wine pairing are relatively well-known. For example, many people are familiar with the wine pairing guide of pairing red meats with red wine and white meat with white wine. Though this is true in some cases, a more comprehensive wine pairing guide accounts for a greater number of variables, including flavor nuances in sauces or spices. Finally, remember that few wine and food pairings are truly terrible. Though you will want to consider the flavor profiles and how they work together, be sure to drink what you like. With very few exceptions, you can “break the rules” and still enjoy great flavors.
For wine aficionados, storing wine properly is of great importance. Given the delicate characteristics of wine and the ripening of its flavor over time, it is important to store wine in a manner conducive to protecting and even nurturing its maturation process. Aging Wine: To Age or Not to Age Some wines are not meant to be stored for a long time; they are meant to be enjoyed soon after bottling. If you are a wine connoisseur, be sure to clarify if a bottle is meant to be enjoyed now or saved for later. Many lovely wines are kept too long past their peak date under the mistaken impression that all wines improve with age. Many wines made today are meant to be enjoyed soon after they are made. As a general rule, reds, including Burgundies, Riojas and Shirazs, are more well-suited for aging. Out of these, those with higher tannin contents will fare best. Whites are generally meant to be enjoyed sooner rather than later, though true champagne will age well if cared for properly. Where to Store Wine Wine can be stored in a variety of locations and receptacles. The key thing to keep in mind is the temperature of the wine. Locations that are cool and out of direct sunlight work best; wine is ideally stored between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. For bottles that will be used within a year or so, no extraordinary methods must be undertaken other than to keep the wine cool and at a humidity level above 50 percent. Though a high humidity level may seem counterintuitive, this is necessary to keep the cork moist and to protect the wine within. It is also a good idea to keep wines away from vibration. The consistent rattling of a refrigerator, for instance, can disrupt the delicate suspension of the wine. Wine Storage Spaces For wines that will be kept for some length of time, it may be wise to consider building a special storage space, which can range in size to meet your particular needs, from a small wine cabinet to a full wine cellar. Remember, however, to keep air circulating in order to keep mold at bay. There are also special wine storage refrigerators available, which come in a variety of sizes. Some of the larger units have different temperature controls to regulate specific areas of the refrigerator itself, ideal for keeping some wines at a level temperature while chilling others. How to Store Wine: Angling the Bottle One tip that will help keep corks moisturized and vinegar-inducing oxygen at bay is to store the wine on its side. When a bottle of wine is stored straight up and down, none of the wine touches the cork. Over time, this may lead to the drying and shrinking of the cork. Often, lovely wines can be ruined by crumbling corks that let air in to spoil the wine. After holding on to an expensive bottle, it would be a shame to lose it […]
The variety of wines available to enjoy is practically endless. Some of the major wine types available include: blush fruit/country non-alcoholic red sparkling white. A description of different types of wine begins with classification. Wines of all types can be classified by either the primary grape variety or the region where the grapes were grown. Wines classified by the type of grape they contain are called varietals and wines classified by the growing region are named for the region itself. Even within types of wine there is a great variety of flavor and texture, due to the climate of growing regions. A warm, wet year will produce grapes with a different flavor than a cooler, dryer growing season. This is why some labels and years are more valuable than others. Types of Red Wine Red wine comes from black grapes. The grapes are fermented whole, with the skin and pips intact. These wines can be light or sweet, refreshing or mellow. Here are some of the major types of red wine: Barbera: This grape is similar to Merlot, but not as well known. Barbera wines go well with many dishes, including those prepared with tomato sauce. Their taste is similar to black cherry and plum fruit, with a silky texture. Cabernet Sauvignon: Considered one of the world”s best varieties of grape, Cabernet Sauvignon is often paired with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It is often served with red meat and has a full-bodied flavor. Merlot: Merlot wines are considered “easy to drink” and are a good introduction to red wines. They can be served with any type of food and have a rough, tannic flavor. Pinot Noir: These grapes are difficult to grow and are rarely blended with other varieties. They are often served with chicken, lamb and salmon. The taste of Pinot Noir wines is delicate and fresh, with a fruity aroma and earthy notes. Syrah or Shiraz: Syrah and Shiraz are both names for the same variety of grape. These red wines go well with beef, steak, stew and wild game. The taste is fruity with black pepper/roast meat overtones and gripping tannins. Zinfandel: Considered the world”s most versatile grape, Zinfandel is used to make wines from blushes to rich, heavy reds. Depending of the heaviness of a particular Zinfandel wine, it may be served with pasta in tomato sauce, pizza or meat. Zinfandel has a zesty berry and pepper flavor. Types of White Wine Since all grape juice starts out colorless, white wines can be made from white or black grapes. Flavors of white wines can range from very dry to sweet and golden. The five main types of white wine are: Chardonnay: This popular grape can be made into sparkling or still wine. It goes well with fish and chicken dishes. Chardonnay has a wide-bodied, velvety citrus flavor. When fermented in a new oak barrel, it has a buttery tone that can resemble coconut, toast, toffee or vanilla. Gewurztraminer: Wine made from this aromatic grape is often […]