Rules are made to be broken
While some claim that there are food and wine pairings that are cardinal sins, the real truth of the matter is, almost all great food pairs with almost all great wine. The very best way to find the perfect food and wine pairing is to trust your palate as a guide, if you like it, it’s a good match! That said if you’re ever standing in a bottle shop or looking at your cellar scratching your head because you can’t work out the perfect wine to pair with your dinner here are some basic guidelines that serve as a good jumping-off point.
Try to pick wines with a body that will be equal to the dish you’re serving. You want to avoid pairing light and heavy, whether light food and heavy wine or vice versa, the lighter will usually be overpowered by the heavier. This is perhaps the most important rule in wine selection.
Even wines with very finely balanced tannins can begin to taste astringent when paired with acidic foods. Tannins, however, love fats as fats balance out the mouthfeel and create harmony. That’s why we love to pair Cabernets with lamb so much.
Very highly acidic foods are not usually going to enhance any wines, that said, slightly acidic wines will be a safer option with acidic foods. Acidic wines, like some zesty whites, also pair beautifully with fattier foods like cheeses as a natural balancer. Salty foods, especially fried foods, benefit from the same balancing effect provided by zingy wines.
Any dish that is filled with spices has the potential to overpower a wine. You might be better served with a delicious, ice-cold beer like our The Tapestry IPA. Even so, there are still some exciting food and wine pairings to be discovered with spicy dishes, try Anna Clara Shiraz Rosé with spicy Asian foods for example.
There’s a generally accepted order in which to serve wines, dry before sweet, light before full and young before old.
If you’re serving sweet wine with dessert you’ll want to try to make sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert, otherwise, the sweetness of the dessert could overpower the wine and make it taste dull.
While these rules can be helpful as you start to think about optimal food and wine pairings, rules were made to be broken. Even the most common “rule” -white wine with fish and red wine with meat- is not really true. There are a whole host of light, brightly acidic reds that pair beautifully with fish while there are equally as many full-bodied whites that pair exceptionally well with meats. Body is more important than colour.
As you gain confidence in matching food and wine you’ll find that is much fun to be had in experimenting. Acclaimed wine critic and journalist Jancis Robinson says in her book How to Taste (2008), “It can be great fun, and very instructive, to serve two different but related wines at the same time. This has the disadvantage of extra dishwashing, and possible accusations of pretension from your guests, but everyone will be surprised by how different two wines can seem when they are tasted together.” Play around and discover surprising food and wine matches that will delight your guests! Remember, if you like it, it’s a good match. This is backed up by Jancis in How to Taste where she confirms, “no matter how hard some people may aspire, there are no ultimate rules or arbiters. No one can point a finger at you and say, ‘Thou hast sinned by serving me a Mâcon Blanc with a hamburger!’ If you don’t enjoy it, you only have yourself to blame, but your guests should be far too grateful that someone else is making them a meal to criticize.”
Why not experience expert food and wine pairings at our next event, our Moorooroo Signature Wine Dinner? We will create a feature wine flight and Wyndham will build a menu, each dish inspired by the wine it accompanies. This is an opportunity to savour Moorooroo wines alongside tailor-made cuisine that tells the story of each vintage and variety. A Moorooroo signature wine dinner is an evening with a sense of time and place, each occasion will be unique, featuring seasonal South Australian produce and a carefully selected stable of Moorooroo wines.