Many people enjoy a glass of good wine with their meals, mostly as a way to enjoy the way the tastes and textures that can complement each other while eating. Unfortunately, though, many people tend not to appreciate the subtle play of flavors that come into a glass of wine, thoughtlessly throwing in any red or white or sparkling wines without the slightest consideration. True connoisseurs know that you don’t just drink wine, you savor it.
The ideal food and wine combinations, therefore, should be regarded in much the same way as ingredient combinations when cooking the actual meal itself, or the dessert that should follow the main course. As always, there is a matter of taste involved that varies from person to person but there are a number of food and wine combinations that are widely well-received and recommended.
Camembert and Chenin Blanc
Camembert is a cheese from Normandy, superficially similar to brie. It’s regarded as one of the trickier cheeses to match wine with, and indeed it tends not to be paired at all. Usual partners to camembert involve cider in some way, as the sweet tang of apples complements the taste of the cheese exceedingly well.
However, Chenin Blanc is a wine that has a pinch of apple in it, and as such can provide that combination of flavors necessary for the proper appreciation of camembert. Try to make sure the cheese is not too mature though. Failing that, a soft fruity red such as an Australian Pinot Noir or Chilean Merlot also works well.
Steaks are served best with a red wine. However, the wine in question will depend on the steak itself. In general, the rule with regards to matching steak with wine is this: the leaner the steak, the lighter the wine to pair with it. So if you have a thick, rich cut such as prime rib, you should go for a suitably bold and flavorful wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.
How well done your steak is will also influence the wine selection. A steak done medium-rare would best be served with an aged wine with strong, earthy flavors. A well-done steak is best partnered with something a little juicier.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
An old Italian classic and favorite, nothing works well with a rich Italian dish such like this than a good glass of wine to wash it down with. Naturally, you should try to select an Italian wine to go with Italian food, as the two just intuitively work together. Generally, look Southern Italy rather than Northern Italy to get the best result. A nice Sicilian red is ideal, or maybe a Rosso from Umberto.
Try to avoid going too rich, however. An overpowering wine selection can risk masking the taste of the tomatoes and basil in the sauce.
Wine and Chicken Wings
While beer may be more traditional, wine can work very well with chicken wings, especially Buffalo style wings. Ideally the wines you choose should be light, crisp and refreshing in order to better play on the flavors used in the sauce. It’s also advised to avoid high alcohol content, in order to prevent lending too much weight to spicier sauces.
Californian or Washington Chenin Blanc and Riesling are especially recommended for those looking for an all-American wine selection, as they go especially well. Zinfandel may also surprise you.
Pork is very rich and distinctive in flavor, and can be tricky to match wines with, especially because it is often served with tangy sauces such as applesauce. Ultimately, which wine to match with pork is a very complex discipline that varies depending on how it’s cooked, what it’s served with and what sauces you’re using. However, the safest bet seems to be a fairly light, fruity white wine. While many would think along the lines of a red, the flavor and crispness of white just complements the meat better.
Whatever the occasion, a little research and forethought can give you the perfect match. Keep the above in mind next time you stop by the store or order from your local ShopRite and you’ll have an excellent combination to help you wind down after a long week’s toil.
Christian Mills is a freelance writer and family man who contributes articles and insights into the concerns of family life and affairs of the home.
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