Food and Wine Pairing: the base rules
The first rule to always remember when looking to pair a wine with a dish is … to make your guests happy !!
For example, if one of them don’t like very sweet wines – the classic association with foie gras - it’s better to serve a slightly smooth white wine.
The second rule is to trust … the locals. When cooking a regional dish, the best way to find the wine which pairs perfectly is to look at what is produced in that specific area. For example, when making the Trout à la Meunière, a recipe from Cahors, it’s generally proposed with a local Malbec, a red grape variety known for its intense tannins, and not with a light white wine.
The third rule regards when you plan serving the wine and its temperature. A tannic wine served too cold will emphasize the bitter and often astringent side of tannins, a well-structured wine served too warm could bring out the alcohol and not the aromas.
If these three rules are respected, then you’re already on the right track! There are of course certain “rules” which exist but which should be questioned due to your experience and your personal taste.
- Sweet dish: ensure the wine is sweeter than the dish or else it will seem bland and dry,
- Savoury dish: serving a tannic and structured wine is often the right choice, the salt softening the tannic sensation of certain wines,
- Bitter dish: not to be served with a tannic wine as it would increase its astringent aspect,
- Spicy dish: choose a well-structured and powerful wine, otherwise it will seem bland.