Seven rules to pair food and wine like an expert
“It’s not black and white,” says co-host Tom Douglas, “There’s much more to the story.”
1. Drink rose with strong cheeses
Teer disagrees with this recommendation on principle, saying that a rose can go with anything, since they are sweet and lighter than a full red wine but have more body than a white wine.
Since roses are so versatile, it can be useful to pair them with hors d’oeuvres. However, The Seattle Kitchen Show declared chilled rose perfect for a summer lunch or dinner, and recommends trying it with all parts of a meal: hors d’oeuvres, entrees, and desserts.
2. Pair un-oaked white wine with citrus dishes
“You want to match brighter, lighter dishes with brighter, lighter wines,” says Teer.
This is the oldest, most basic rule for wine pairings, and generally applies to citrus fish dishes. In the Pacific Northwest, however, fish are rich and oily and pair exceptionally well with rich red wines even if the fish is soaked in lemon or lime. Most of the time the fish flavor comes through the citrus, pairing well with a rose like Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose, or a lighter red wine.
3. Pair low alcohol wines with spicy foods
This rule was written for a reason. Teer recommends Rieslings, which are high taste and low alcohol, as especially good pairings for spicy food, like Indian or Thai cuisines.
“It’s a chemical reaction that makes your mouth burn even more,” says Teer, “so something lower alcohol that you could even give a slight chill to that’s refreshing, I totally agree with that.”
4. Match rich red meats with tannic red wines
This is a good rule to live by when pairing dishes with wines. The structure of the wine cuts through the fattiness of rich and oily red meats.
Pairing fatty meats like duck or sausages with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrahs, or a Barbaresco helps to balance out the oily flavors and bring out the richness of the dish. Even in warm weather, when red wines are usually shelved, follow Seattle Kitchen recommendations on enjoying red wine in the summer to create a satisfying pairing.
5. With lighter meats, pair wine with sauce
“We often talk with customers about the entire flavor – especially in multi-ingredient dishes, and where you have real pronounced flavors,” says Teer, “your main protein isn’t your main flavor, necessarily.”
For example, two pork dishes made with different sauces will be paired differently: pork in a white wine sauce with leeks and pine nuts should be paired with a wine like Chardonnay, while pork in a zesty ragu sauce should be paired with a wine that has more body, like a Portuguese red.
6. Choose earthy wines with earthy foods
“When you’re adding some stronger ingredient to a protein, Nebbiolo with mushroom shallot ragu – you’re taking something that’s really earthy tasting,” said Tom.
Pinot Noir, for example, pairs well with a dish like bison rib steak and garlic. Be careful that the wine doesn’t have too much bitterness so it doesn’t overwhelm your palate.
7. For desserts, go with the lighter wine
The entire Seattle Kitchen staff agrees not to let wine overwhelm dessert. A strong, sweet wine could stand on its own for dessert, but when seeking lighter sweet wines for after dinner, look to a cold Moscato, Riesling, or fruity sparkling red wine.
“People don’t need to be intimidated by the whole food and wine pairing. There’s a few egregious ‘don’ts’ but the way people are cooking these days and drinking, I think you have a lot of latitude as well,” says Teer. “Just be aware of the flavors.”
Find more Seattle Kitchen here and listen to Thierry Rautureau and Tom Douglas for a special Saturday edition at 8:00 pm.