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.
Many amateur cooks are hesitant to use wine as an ingredient when cooking. They may worry about what kind of wine to purchase or how much to use in recipes with wine. However, becoming comfortable cooking with wine is an important step in becoming a better chef. When carefully selected and properly prepared, wine as an ingredient enhances the flavor of the finished dish. Cooking with Wine Wine is most commonly used for “deglazing,” a cooking method that uses a liquid like chicken stock or wine to scrape food remnants from the bottom of a pan and become the base for a sauce, or as a marinade. In some cases, wine can also be added as a last-minute ingredient. For example, marsala wine is typically added to the sauce in chicken marsala in the last step of preparation. Likewise, you can add sherry to an English trifle or drizzle it over cream soup immediately before serving. This method generally only works for sweet or fortified wines. Dry wines added at the last minute can give the food a harsh taste. How to Use Wine as an Ingredient So what happens if you want to use wine as an ingredient, but don’t have any recipes with wine on hand? Simply follow a few general rules for cooking with wine, and you can improve the flavor of many dishes without having to consult a recipe. First, a simple way to introduce wine as an ingredient is to substitute wine when your recipe calls for water. You can do this for soups, stews, sauces, marinades and pasta sauce. Another idea is to mix a couple of tablespoons of red wine into brown gravy or au jus for a roast beef or prime rib. Allow it to cook long enough for the alcoholic flavor to dissipate. The result should be rich, flavorful gravy. Avoid the “cooking wines” you see at grocery stores. These so-called cooking wines are packed with added salt and will only lend a concentrated salty flavor to your food. Instead, use a wine that you’d feel comfortable serving.
Pairing red wine with meals helps draw out the flavors of the main dish. Cooking with red wine serves the same purpose. While red-wine recipes may seem intimidating to a beginner cook, they’re not too difficult and can help you create an outstanding main dish. Cooking with Red Wine When used on the stovetop (as opposed to in a marinade), the most common way of using red wine is in sauce recipes. A good red wine sauce can make a huge difference in the flavor or texture of food, depending on what type of wine you choose. For example, fortified wines like port or marsala wine usually result in a sauce that’s rich, thick and sweet. On the other hand, sauces made with dry red wines add earthy flavor to beef and lamb recipes.
Decisions about wine pairings can be made based on a number of food characteristics. The main protein and sauce can both provide viable comparison points for wine. Based on personal preference and different flavor matches, several wines can pair equally well with the same dish. Special considerations apply for certain wine and food types. Pairing: Main Ingredients Traditionally, pairings are often determined based on the protein in your dish. Classic white wine pairings include chicken and fish, while red wines are often paired with beef. However, these are only guidelines. For example, rich salmon can be successfully paired with a red wine with low tannin concentration, such as Pinot Noir. This type of pairing also accounts for the concept of pairing by weight. The protein in a dish is a significant determining factor in its overall “weight:” rich versus light, strong versus delicate. Pairing: Sauces and Spice Lighter proteins, such as chicken or fish, are apt to take on the flavors of sauces or spices. These accompaniments can create “flavor bridges” that connect the dish with certain wines and provide a harmonious or contrasting flavor profile. For example, a pasta or chicken with cream sauce could be mirrored by a rich Chardonnay, or contrasted by an acidic Sauvignon Blanc. Two wines may prove excellent pairs for the same dish for different reasons. The winning choice can be dictated by your perception of the primary element of a dish, or your personal preferences. Special Courses: Cheese, Appetizers and Dessert Generally, lighter and sparkling wines pair well with appetizer courses. Wine and cheese pairings can follow a basic rule of thumb: red wines pair well with hard cheeses, whereas white wines often pair well with soft. In addition, pungent cheeses like stilton pair well with sweet wines, like port. Dessert, however, can present challenges. Light fruit desserts can be matched with lightly sweet sparkling wines like Prosecco. Very sweet desserts, however, can make wine taste dull or bitter, and are often better paired with coffee than wine. Solo Artists: Stand-Alone Wines Some wines are best enjoyed alone; their flavor profiles are compromised when food pairings are introduced. Some complex, oaky (and very expensive) aged wines can be blunted when paired with food. Simpler wines are often a better match at meals, and display their fruit character more effectively. Similarly, dessert wines often function better as replacements than accompaniments, as sweet desserts can diminish their nuanced flavors.
A lot of people think cooking with wine is a task that can be mastered only by top chefs in five-star restaurants. However, cooking with wine can be quite simple, and even the most average cook can prepare a lot of recipes in the most average kitchen. Cooking with wine adds a depth and flavor to food that makes even the simplest dish seem complex. Marinating meat or fish in a red or white wine marinade transforms the meat, and there are many recipes that call for white or red wine sauces. Here are some tips on how to incorporate wine into some of your dishes. Wines Used in Cooking A lot of people become intimidated by the number of wines that are available for cooking. When a recipe calls for a cup of red wine, will any red wine do? What if it calls for a dry red wine? Here are some suggestions for wines that adapt well to cooking: American Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice for recipes that call for dry white wine. On the other hand, a strong-flavored dish would benefit from a more robust white wine, such as a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. Your choice of red wine depends very much on the nature of the recipe. Light-flavored dishes might require Chianti or a Pinot Noir. Strong-flavored meats such as lamb would need more powerful reds, such as a Zinfandel. In addition, fortified wines, with their intense flavors, lend themselves well to cooking. Madeira, Sherry, Port and Marsala are commonly seen in cooking with wine recipes. Cooking Wines There are many cooking wines sold on grocery store shelves. Few, if any, deserve to be used in a cooking with wine recipe. Cooking wines are comprised of thinned wines mixed with salt. These “wines” lack the complexity of real wines, and no professional chef would use them. A decent bottle of real wine doesn”t cost much more than cooking wine and adds much more flavor to dishes. Cooking with Wine: Wine Quality When cooking with wine, keep in mind an old cooking adage: Never cook with wine you wouldn”t drink. An undrinkable vintage won”t magically transform into a delicious red wine sauce or white wine marinade. Instead, an inferior wine will add bitterness and/or a sour taste to the meal. Always use a good-quality wine for cooking. Good quality offers two advantages: The food will taste better, and you”ll have something to sip on while you cook! Using Wine in Your Kitchen Wine and food has enjoyed a long partnership, and cooking with wine marries the two in many ways. Why not try combining food and your favorite vintage in the following ways: After cooking meats in a pan, use wine to deglaze the pan and make a rich sauce. Make a salad dressing by mixing wine, herbs and olive oil. Marinate meat and poultry in red or white wine marinades and white wine marinades. Make red wine sauces and white wine sauces for pasta, vegetables, meat, […]
For 4,000 years, Southern Italy has been producing wine. While the business was booming in the Greek and Roman era, modern-day production has declined; much of the wine produced in the Southern region is exported to other European countries as blending wine. Overall, the Southern Italian wine region does not produce as much wine in quantity or quality as the other regions. Still, production and quality has become a new priority. More and more Southern Italian wine regions are making good quality wines that are affordable and even available in the U.S. Red wine dominates wine production in the Southern wine-making regions and a variety of grape types are used. Southern Italian Wine Regions Below is a list of the five areas included within the Southern Italian wine region. Apulia Wine production accounts for the majority of Apulia”s economy. As such, the wines of Apulia are quite refined. Interestingly, Apulia”s Primitivo di Manduria wine is made from grapes almost exactly the same as California”s award-winning Zinfandel. One affordable wine that is also high in quality is Salice Salentiion, a powerful red wine. Basilicata The Basilicata red wine, Aglianico del Volture, ranks among the best Italian red wines across all the regions. Aglianico del Volture is so named because the Aglianico grape vines grow around Mount Volture. There are no native grape plants in this region. Instead, the grape plants were brought over by the Greeks, pre-Roman times. Campania Traditional Campania wines are consumed and enjoyed quickly, so the refinement that comes with aging wine is not as common as cheaper versions. However, distinctive wines, such as the red Taurasi, are gaining respect. By law, Taurasi must be aged at least three years; however, it is best after being aged 15 to 20 years. The best-known red is probably Lacrimi Cristi (“Tears of Christ”), which is also produced in an Italian sparkling wine version. Two other top Campania wines are Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo. Both are Italian white wines, and are ready to drink after four to six years. Calabria Similar to Basilicata, Calabria”s grape plants and wine techniques were also introduced by the Greeks. Calabria is home to Ciro, which is believed to be the oldest wine produced in the world. Other notable varieties include Melissa (white and red) and the Greco di Bianco, an amber-colored Italian dessert wine. Molise Molise is probably the region that produces the least wine. Agriculture is the main economic activity with the vine contributing only a small influence on the market. Originally, Molise was an appendix of Abruzzi (part of the central Italian region) but in 1963 Molise gained administrative independence. Molise wine is grouped with the Southern style of Italian wine because it is produced using Southern Italian red wine grape varieties including Barbera, Bombino Rosso and Aglianico.
There are few things more satisfying than enjoying the fruits of your labor, literally. Winemaking is a great hobby or career that lets wine enthusiasts have a hand in producing their own wines to enjoy. Some companies now sell wine making kits that contain everything needed to create your own perfect bottles of vino. Making Homemade Wine Winemaking begins after the grapes are harvested. The process for making red wines differs slightly from that used to make whites. With a red wine, the grapes are crushed and fermented with the skins and seeds. In a white wine, the white grapes are pressed and the juice is fermented. During fermentation, the sugars are converted to alcohol with yeast. A second fermentation allows the wine to become clear. After the fermentation stages, some wines are aged in oak barrels to add additional notes of flavor in the aftertaste. Others are directly bottled. Winemaking Supplies Before beginning to make homemade wine, there are a few supplies needed to get you started: 23-liter glass or plastic carboy 30-liter plastic container with a non-airtight lid 5 feet long plastic tube airlock and bung for the carboy dairy thermometer hydrometer long pipette long spoon long tube or jar. A carboy is a plastic container with a fermentation lock and rubber stopper that is used to ferment the wine. A winemaker needs a few ingredients to begin: ascorbic acid or potassium sorbate to stop fermentation bottles and corks detergent filtered water grape or fruit juice sodium metabisulfite to sanitize yeast. Of course, many professional winemakers use other ingredients as well, such as oak barrels for the aging process. Many companies sell winemaking kits that come complete with everything needed to make your first bottle of wine, as well as a detailed instruction manual. These kits are fairly inexpensive and are a great way to experiment with the winemaking process. Avoiding Common Winemaking Problems Many amateur winemakers come across a few problems along the way to their first bottle of vino. Fermentation is a tricky stage; check in on the wine to ensure it has not gone into stuck fermentation. Make sure the temperature is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit during this stage to allow the yeast to ferment at a pace that is best for wine. Always sanitize all the equipment used. There is a special solution specifically for winemakers. It is important to take note of the wine”s exposure to air, as this could lead to oxidation, thus tainting the wine. Winemaking Recipes Thanks to the Internet, there is a wide variety of choices in homemade wine recipes. Recipes from Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot to Mead are all capable of being made from the comfort of your own home. Many people enjoy experimenting with their own recipes once they have mastered the wine making technique. Recipes using dandelions, sweet potatoes, beets and watermelon all offer new aspects to the traditional grape wines.