Countless books and articles have been written about the subject. Even more seminars and sessions were, are, and will be staged to educate the palates of novices and experienced alike.
Unquestionably, matching food and wine requires some thought and willingness to experiment with different compatible and complementary flavour combinations. The adventurous will be rewarded henceforth with unimagined taste experiences.
You can compile your menu and choose wines accordingly (the LCBO offers a reasonable choice of wines to go with a variety of foods ) or you can raid your cellar and create the menu to fit the wines.
It is best to know that deeply flavoured dishes require appropriately textured and assertive wines. Wine must be the consort, never the prince!
The lighter the food the lighter should be the wine i.e. white meat with white wine, and red with red, those in between like turkey and provimi veal could be served with either at the ends of the spectrum. A roasted turkey for example would be fine with an assertive white wine or a light red wine. The same is true for pork. Here the cooking method and herbs used would have to be taken into consideration.
Brut or dry sparkling wines can be served with almost any food, and those sweet would be quite all right with appropriate desserts.
Regional specialties go best with the wines of the region. Inventive cooks seem to have created dishes to be complemented with appropriate local wines. In Burgundy, local specialties match Burgundian wines superbly; this is also true for Bordeaux, Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto, Rioja, just to name a few. In North America where wine, as we know it, had to be imported, and the food too, the situation is different. Here, such a vast array of immigrants brought their food cultures creating a virtual “ melting pot “ of cuisines. If you consider the size of both Canada and the U S A, it becomes clear that every region developed its own specialties. Immigrants had to modify their recipes to accommodate local ingredients and or replace them. Generally people eat whatever is around them for a number of reasons.
Today, in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver, one can find practically any food grown anywhere in the world, but culinary principles tell us that the best tasting foods are seasonal and locally grown. You cannot compare the flavour of an Ontario grown strawberry in season with one from California, since that is picked green and trucked to Ontario
On occasion, one ends up with wines that may be astringent or too acid. Here are some handy tips: When the wine is astringent ( as young red wines are ) , sharpen the food with lemon juice. This will make the wine appear smooth. A “ sharp “ pepper steak goes better with a light red wine than heavy red wine, as the former can “ encounter “ pungent pepper corns more effectively than a refined old, red or even a heavy young red.
Cheese is said to make any wine appear soft and palatable, because the protein in it softens astringent tannins, which is also true for red meat, especially steaks .
So if you are visiting a winery and you are offered pâtės or cheeses between samples be aware of what is being accomplished!
Brut or dry sparkling wines are generally acid and complement best fatty and doughy foods a.k.a hors d’oeuvre.
Matching desserts and wine seems to be relatively simple; avoid creamy and heavy desserts, as well as those containing heavy doses of chocolate.
Match seasonal fruit containing desserts with wines that are sweeter than creation.
Icewines, beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese wines from Germany and Austria are best enjoyed on their own, or if absolutely necessary with seasonal ripe, local fruits.( I cannot think a better match than ripe Niagara peaches and a Select Late Harvest Riesling from Ontario )
Blue-veined cheeses such as Rocquefort, Bleu de Bresse, Gorgonzola, Danish Blue, Stilton go extremely well with botrytis affected ( B.A) wines. Speaking of B.A affected wines, I cannot think of anything more seductive than fattened goose liver pâté or sautéed and sprinkled with Balsamic vinegar and Tokaj or Sauternes wines!
Principles of matching food and wine
Refrain from serving wine with vinegary dressing containing salads.
Strongly spiced dishes are better with beer.
Oriental dishes can be matched with off-dry German wines (Japanese specialties for example, or Chinese dishes from Szechwan or Shanghai )
Fish cooked in red wine can be matched with the same wine
Local wines go best with local dishes
The stronger the wine the stronger should be the food
Try to complement a herb-flavoured dish with a wine that can complement the herb.
Dry wines are generally better with food than sweet, except for desserts.
Cheese and wine are made for one another Match white wines with creamy cheeses and red with semi-hard or hard flavourful ones
Always remember that the food is the prince and the wine the consort
Below are true and tried food and wine matches:
Crab meat: Dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc de St. Bris
Lobster: Corton-Charlemagne, Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, Braised Beef: Amarone, Amador Couny Zinfandel
Lamb: Nebbiolo (Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Ghemme, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Spanna, Carema, Valtellina ), Meritage blends from California, Washington or Ontario, Bordeaux reds
Pork: Beaujolais, Chinon, Saumur, Bourgeuil, Gamay Noir from Ontario, Zweigelt from Ontario, Lemberger from Washington State, Cabernet Sauvignon Washington State
Potatoes: Pinot Noir, Ribera del Duero
Apples: Sauternes, Tokaj Aszu three puttonyos and up
Chocolate: Muscat d’ Alexandrie
Chocolate dark: Banyuls, Moscato d’Asti, Moscato Passito, Moscato di Pantelleria, Muscat Rutherglen, Pinot Noir based sweet wines from Burgenland, Old Vine Zinfandel, Vintage Ports