Wine and Food Synergy — getting to a place where together both taste better

At the Wine Rack

Christopher Reckord

Thursday, December 06, 2012    

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Last week we introduced wine and food-matching concepts that are being taught by a number of wine producers as they attempt to make enjoying wine with food fun. These principles are documented in three great books that you should consider if you are interested in creating food and wine synergies.

In the book Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier's Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food, Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein suggests that if we understand these seven food and wine keys, then; as the title suggests, we will have more 'perfect pairings'. Three food keys — Ingredients; Cooking Methods; Sauces and Condiments. Six wine keys — Acidity; Sweetness; Saltiness; Tannin; Oak; Alcohol. The average casual wine drinker might not be interested in this detail.

In Great Tastes Made Simple, Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson suggests that we consider the basic food tastes — sweet, earthy, savoury, buttery, tart and spicy — and how they interact with wine in order to achieve wine and food synergy. In this she encourages us to experiment with different wines whenever we have our regular meals in order to learn about the different flavour dynamics.

Sommelier François Chartier takes it to a whole new level in his latest book (recently translated from French) Taste Buds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food, Wine, and Flavour. Chartier spent the better part of two decades collaborating with top scientists and chefs to map out the aromatic molecules that give foods and wines their flavour; he has been able to identify why certain foods and wines work well together at a molecular level. He used this research to collaborate with Ferran Adrià and Juli Soler on the 2009-2010 menu at their legendary restaurant elBulli, which was voted the world's best restaurant five times over.

Chefs and wine educators at the major wine producers have been creating many programmes to simplify how we choose what wines to drink with our meals. Even the major wine education service providers globally are suggesting new ways to improve wine and food matching. The interesting thing that I found as I did my research on the topic was that everyone ultimately ended up saying the same thing although they all tried to suggest how unique their programme, method or technique was. Here are the bare essentials:

* Complex wine with complex food; simple wine with simple food.

* Match the weight or richness of the food and the body of the wine.

* Pairing wines and foods with similar dominant features is generally harmonious.

* Match acidic foods with high-acid wines.

* Match sweet food with sweet wines.

* Tangy with tangy, smoky with oaky, dark red meat with dark red wine.

* Match spicy or peppery food with light low tannic reds, rosé, slightly sweet wines.

* Match salty foods with sweet or high-acid wines.

* Match fatty and oily foods with high-acid wines.

* Match or contrast the flavour characteristics of the wine and food

* Avoid sweet food and dry wines.

Also consider the preparation of the food, which is related to the complexity of the food:

* Steamed Foods — light-bodied wine

* Roasted Foods — Full-bodied robust wine

* Stewed or Braised Foods — Full-bodied, intensely flavoured wine

In a number of instances, the sauce and condiments served with the meat/fish is more important to consider than the meat or fish itself.

Do experiment at home during dinner: first taste the wine, have some food, then taste the wine again — Did you like it or not? Keep trying different wines till you find combinations that you like and write them down. Have fun with this.

Christopher Reckord — Businessman, Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to Follow us on twitter: @DeVineWines @Reckord




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