The world of wine is vast, wonderful, and sometimes mysterious. It’s one thing to pick out a great bottle of wine, but that’s just the start of the challenge. To really up your game, you need to know how to select the right wine to go with food.
Pairing wine with a meal is a bit of a science and a bit of an art, all mixed together with a big dash of personal taste.
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1. Know the conventional wisdom
There are certain widely accepted rules when it comes to pairing styles of wine with particular foods. You’ve probably heard some basic ideas about matching white wines like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc with fish, or a bold red like Cabernet Sauvignon with steak.
It’s hard to go wrong with the basics, but don’t be afraid to branch out a little. For example, a lot of diners find a fruity red wine like Beaujolais can pair beautifully with the rich flavor profile of salmon. HelloFresh offers three different wine club options, from just reds to just whites to mixed bottles that offer versatility for any meal.
2. Match intensities
“Intensity” may sound like a strange word in relation to food and wine, but it’s actually a fairly simple concept. Let’s go back to our salmon example. Salmon is meatier and oilier than a mild catfish or tilapia fillet. So a more “intense” red wine can pair well with a grilled salmon steak, while a bright Sauvignon Blanc would go nicely with a pan-seared catfish fillet. This is also why heartier reds go well with steak.
HelloFresh’s premium wine deliveries come with pairing tips and tasting notes to help you match the right wine to the right meal.
3. Think in flavors
When pairing wine with food, you want the flavors to come together and accentuate each other, creating a symphony out of individual instruments. Let’s think about a cheese plate, for example. If you have a selection of aged gouda, ripened brie, and fresh burrata, then you want to take care to not overpower those flavors, so you might consider a lighter white wine as a pairing as opposed to a thick red wine.
Sauces also come into play, especially when they’re driving the flavor of a dish like chicken served with a garlic and herb butter sauce. A light Chardonnay could work well in this situation. When it comes to pastas, again consider the sauce. There’s a reason a classic Chianti typically pairs well with pasta in a red tomato sauce. The flavors complement each other beautifully.
4. Consider a sweet wine with dessert
While you may be tempted to reach for that bottle of dry champagne, a sweeter wine can make for a perfect pairing with delectable desserts. There’s a good reason for this. Drier wines can sometimes come across as bitter when paired with sugary treats.
Check into an ice wine, Riesling, Moscato, or a sweeter sparkling wine to match up with cakes, cookies, and other traditional desserts. If you’re feeling adventurous, then pair up a dark chocolate dessert with a rich, full-bodied red (like an Amarone) or go with the traditional favorite of port, a sweet fortified wine that was born to go with chocolate.
Pairing wine and food is ultimately about enjoyment. You can explore outside the rules, challenge your palate with unusual matches, and find what works for you. Everybody has different tastes, so try new things and explore the recommendations from the wine experts and receive $30 off your first box at HelloFresh. You just might find a new favorite way to wine-and-dine.
Kim loves HelloFresh and it changed the way she eats
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