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.
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, […]
The central regions of Italy are responsible for the delectable Italian wine and food most recognized throughout the world. From rich cheeses and tomato sauce to excellent wine, central Italy is a mandatory stop for traveling food- and wine-lovers. Among the four geographic areas of wine-making (north, central, southern, the Islands), the central region is famous for many popular wines, including Chianti. The areas included in the central Italian wine region are: Abruzzi Emilia-Romagna Latium Marches Tuscany Umbria. Sangiovese is the main grape variety used for the central regions, as it produces an elegant and fruity wine. Abruzzi Known as a region of hearty but simple eaters, the wine of Abruzzi is simple and robust to match. The terrain of the Abruzzi region is favorable for growing grapes, and one popular wine is the affordable export Montepulciano d”Abruzzo. Molise, which was once a part of Abruzzi, boasts the Biferno, which comes in Rosso, Rosato and Bianco varieties, and the Pentro di Isernia, found in dry whites and reds. Emilia-Romagna As one of the richest regions in Italy, Emilia-Romagna enjoys fertile land and a prosperous wine industry. One of Emilias-Romagna”s most notable Italian sparkling wine is Lambrusco. Lambrusco is consumed within the year that it is made, and most often has a sweet taste. However, authentic versions are dry, and are the best match for the region”s cuisine. White wines from this region include Albana di Romagna, which is dry with an almond undertone, and Trebbiano di Romagna, which is light and fresh, in sparkling versions or otherwise. Latium (Lazio) Latium is the capital region of Italy and its white wines are the most famous, notably Montefiascone and Castelii (Frascati) white wine. The interestingly named Est! Est!! Est!!! is also native to Latium and is a highly celebrated white wine. Although white wine is the main focus of Latium wine production, the region”s red wines are beginning to gain attention; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are among the choice reds. The Marche (Le Marche) Red and white wine are equally produced in The Marche. Standouts include red wines Rosso Conero, Rosso Piceno and Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. If you like seafood, Le Marche is home to white wines that are perfect accompaniments, namely Verdicchio (di Jesi or di Matelica) and Bianchello del Metauro. Tuscany Chianti is the most well-known Italian wine from Tuscany. Chianti comes in both red and white. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano is probably the most well-known Tuscan white wine. The famous Vin Santo “Holy Wine” is also native to Tuscany. This dessert wine is made from Trebbiano grapes that have been left to dry until Holy Week. Umbria Wine production in Umbria is limited, but the wine itself is quite good. One excellent white is the Orvieto, which is made from a blend of for our five grape varieties. The “semi-sweet” version of Orvieto is called Abboccato. Notable reds are the Torgiano Rosso and Sagrantino di Montefalco, a local favorite.
People are sometimes put off by the mystique that surrounds viticulture (the culture of winemaking), but you don”t have to be a wine master to enjoy wine tasting. Nor do you need to be a wine expert to age wine in storage. All you need is a little wine advice. Wine Etiquette and Pouring Much mystique seems to shroud wine serving and pouring. Perhaps you”ve seen the most impressive method of wine serving, where the bottle neck is heated with special tongs and sliced off with a saber. Such spectacle is all very theatrical and impressive, but completely unnecessary. The only real rule to wine etiquette is to serve the wine correctly. There are really only two considerations to keep in mind: temperature and timing. Temperature and Wine Serving Different wines taste best at different temperatures. No wine master would dream of serving Champagne at the same temperature as a Riesling. Those of us who aren”t wine experts might not be as demanding, but can still get maximum pleasure out of our wine by following this temperature table: Wine Fahrenheit Celsius Asti Spumanti 41 degrees 5 degrees Beaujolais / Rose 54 degrees 12 degrees Champagne 45 degrees 7 degrees Chardonnay 48 degrees 9 degrees Chianti / Zinfandel 59 degrees 15 degrees Ice wines 43 degrees 6 degrees Pinot Noir 61 degrees 16 degrees Red Burgundy / Cabernet 63 degrees 17 degrees Riesling 47 degrees 8 degrees Sauternes 52 degrees 11 degrees Shiraz / most reds 64 degrees 18 degrees Tawny / NV Port / Madeira 57 degrees 14 degrees Vintage Port 66 degrees 19 degrees Unless you”re a wine master, don”t worry if you”re a degree or two off for your wine. Get the temperature as close as you reasonably can and your wine will taste at its best. Opening the Bottle Timing is as important as temperature when wine serving. Generally speaking, a red wine should be opened an hour before drinking, to let it ”breathe” (let it come into contact with oxygen and develop its bouquet). In contrast, white wine is best served immediately after opening. Pouring the Wine The glass you use is important when wine serving. A red wine glass has a wide bowl that allows you to fully experience the complexity of the wine. White wine glasses are narrower; augmenting the taste of the wine while limited the amount of oxidization that occurs at the wine”s surface. Wine Tasting Etiquette A wine tasting party sounds intimidating, but again, you don”t need to be a wine expert to enjoy one. You”ll be greeted by the host, usually a wine master who”ll provide you with glasses and explain what wines are available for tasting. A wine tasting has a set order: white wine is served first, followed by reds, and finally dessert wines. Sip the wine and consult the accompanying tasting notes to see what aromas and flavors you should be taken. It”s quite acceptable not to drink all the wine in your glass: In fact, most […]
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.
Wine has been a popular beverage throughout human history. Ancient records and artifacts show that people have been enjoying wine for at least 4,500 years. First Sips of Wine As early as 6000 B.C., people may have been drinking wine. Wine residues from this period were found in ceramic jars from Neolithic sites in present day Iran and Georgia. Scientists, however, are not sure if the results of their tests are conclusive or if there may have been false positives. The earliest firm evidence for wine”s presence is from Iran and has been dated from 5400 to 5000 B.C. While no one can be sure exactly when wine history begins, we know that many people were drinking it in the Middle East as far back as 2500 B.C. Egyptians from this time period left written records about using grapes to make wine, and many references to wine are found in the Old Testament. Wine in Ancient Egypt Wine was popular in ancient Egypt and played an important part in many rituals and ceremonies. Most of the wine the Egyptians drank was red, although a recent discovery shows that white wine was also produced. Ancient Egyptian Wine Fact On Ancient Egyptian tomb walls, winemaking scenes are found along with lists of the types of wines to be enjoyed in the afterlife. Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome The ancient Greeks started many of the traditions that have become modern wine culture. This beverage was important enough to the Greeks that a deity was created: Dionysos, the god of wine and revelry. There was a festival in his honor called Anthesteria, which included wine-drinking contests. References to wine also appear in Greek writings of the time and can be found in famous works by Homer and Aesop. Wine was also a popular beverage in the Roman Empire. It was considered an important part of the Roman diet. It was during this time that wine-making became a big business and methods of wine-making improved. For the first time, bottles were used for storage and barrels were used for shipping. Dark Ages During the Dark Ages, the world was in a state of chaos and instability. Methods of growing grapes and wine-making were lost in many cultures. This technology, however, was preserved in the Catholic Church, which remained stable during all the social changes of the period. Wine in Modern Times Since ancient times, wine has remained a significant part of human social culture. In recent times, wine is becoming more popular than ever, with retail sales increasing in the range of 30 percent to 50 percent over the past few years. More people are ordering wine in restaurants, and wine bars have become a hot new trend. Wine still plays as important a role in religious ritual as it did in ancient times. You can find wine in churches and synagogues during many services, including weddings and other major events. Popular Modern Uses of Wines Aperitifs are often referred to as appetizer wines and […]
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 […]