Food and wine pairing for beginners – Wine characteristics

If you have read my blog before you know that I not only enjoy cooking up appetizing meals but I also adore wine. So when it comes to food and wine pairing, I decided to do some research and learn the best way to go about creating a perfect pairing experience. I soon discovered that the world of pairing can be overwhelming for beginners. This is why I have decided to compile a beginners guide to food and wine pairing so that you have a handy cheat sheet to help you for the next time that you need to impress.

The reason we pair wine with food is to enhance the flavours of the food and of the wine itself. The relationship should be mutually beneficial and work together to create deliciousness.

Drinking whichever cultivar that you prefer is always a good rule, but if you like several types of wine, knowing which one to pick to compliment a meal can be a daunting task. Where do you even begin?

wine characteristics

Let’s start with the basic taste components in wine.

For the most part, wine has acidity, sweetness and bitterness in varying combinations but also lacks the three tastes of fatness, heat and saltiness – this is where your food pairing will come in. Generally speaking, you can group wines into three categories:

  1. Red wines have more bitterness.
  2. White, rosé and sparkling wines have more acidity.
  3. Sweet wines have more sweetness.

The next thing you will need to think about is the body of the wine you are serving. The ‘body’ of a wine simply means how a wine feels inside the mouth. Wines fall into three main categories: light, medium and full-bodied. In terms of food and wine pairing the aim is to match the flavour and body of the wine to that of the meal that it is being paired with. For instance a light-bodied, floral wine would be completely overpowered by a heavily flavoured meat dish, whereas a bold, full bodied wine would drown out the flavours of a light, crisp meal.

By learning more about wine characteristics you will be able to identify and relate different wines to each other more easily, which in turn will help you to choose the best meal to serve with your wine. A great food and wine pairing creates a balance between the components of a dish and the characteristics of a wine, so it’s important to think about the basic characteristics of the wine you are serving when planning a perfect pairing.

The world of wine is hugely varied and provides endless possibilities for creative combinations but the core of a good food and wine pairing is balance and creating an experience that is delicious and memorable for your guests. In the next installment of my food and wine pairing guide I will talk about how to go about creating pairings. Click here to read more: Food and wine pairing – Creating pairings.

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