‘All about wine’ is a series in which we discuss all there is to know and love about wine from how to taste it like a pro, to how match it with awesome cheeses and even how to cellar it (if you have that kind of willpower).
During my recent New Zealand holiday, I visited ‘Peacock Sky‘ on Waiheke Island – a small winery known not only for its great wines (the chardonnay is particularly delicious) but also for offering complimentary food matches with its wine tastings. I took this opportunity to ask owner Rob Meredith for advice on how to pair food and wine at home and he was kind enough to oblige.
Here are his 5 top tips for pairing food and wine:
1. Aim for balance
First, consider the weight of your wine and food. Heavy/robust wines call for bold dishes. For example, Peacock Sky often matches its Bordeaux-style blend with strong cheeses or red meat and its Merlot with venison and game. On the other hand, delicate wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Sparkling wine call for lighter food such as seafood.
Secondly, balance the oil/fat content in your food with the acidity of the wine. For example, Chardonnay and dishes with coconut cream can work really well together because the cream’s fattiness softens the acidity of the chardonnay. Likewise – smoked salmon is the perfect partner to champagne.
2. Match tannic wines with protein rich food
Protein neutralizes tannins which is why red wines with strong tannins (such as Cabernet Sauvignon) match well with red meat.
3. Dare to pair spicy food with red wine
It’s no secret that spicy food (especially Indian and Asian food) goes well with aromatic wines such as Gewurztraminer or Riesling but this doesn’t mean that red wine lovers should miss out on a perfect wine/spicy food pairing. Try pairing spicy foods with a spicy wine such as Malbec, or a fruity wine like French Beaujolais.
4. Amplify/Stack the flavors
Pick a particular flavor in your dish or wine and compliment it accordingly. For example, pair duck breast served with a fruit compote with a light fruity red wine to bring out the fruity element of the dish.
One of Peacock Sky’s favorite food and wine match is their Cabernet Sauvignon with a dark chocolate fudge (made with 70% cacao) brownie. Although it seems like an unlikely match, it works because the chocolate flavor present in the wine is amplified by the high chocolate content in the brownie. The result is like a black forest cake explosion in your mouth!
According to Rob, the best way to come up with winning food and wine pairings is simply by experimenting. For example, one of his recent favorite pairings is Rose and smoked mussels, something he came up during a family bbq!
Also, everyone’s palette is different so don’t be afraid to break the rules and have some fun!
I hope you found these tips useful! Also, I’d love to know – what are some of your favorite food and wine pairings?
A big thank you to the Peacock Sky staff for sharing their knowledge with us!