Pretty sure one of the many things my wife finds attractive about me is when we go to a restaurant, and I’m able to pick a wine she’ll enjoy with her meal. Being able to navigate your way around a wine list is a lost art and a subtle display of manliness. Don’t be that guy that just passes the wine list off at a steakhouse, be the knowledgeable gentleman that can order a bottle of wine for the whole table. These basic wine pairing tips will have you wooing, impressing, and reinvigorating the lost art of wine pairing.
So what are the basics?
Everyone has heard the basic rule of wine pairing with meals. White meat equals white wine; red meat equals red wine. It goes deeper than just that specific rule. Did you know the dryness of the wine can intensify the flavor of your steak? Yeah, it’s a thing.
The factors that I look at when pairing wines with my meals are simple to understand: 1) white meat, red meat, or fish; 2) Juicy or dry dish; 3) is my meal spicy or not?. We’ll get into these further, but each of these play a role in my decision when it comes to wine at dinner.
The final factor is whether or not I’m even pairing the wine with a dish, or if I’m just drinking it. For example after-dinner wines, or what I call “porch wines.” Yeah, guys, there is a wine for everything.
Wine Pairing for the Dish
Selecting a wine with a dish can make or break the entire meal. It’s a finicky balance between the natural attributes of the dish, mixed with the natural attributes of the wine. The white equals white and red equals red, which is good to fall back on, just limits the possibilities you can create with a dish.
Typically, wines pair better by the color on the plate. White’s pair better with chicken, turkey, and white fish. Red’s pair better with steaks, red sauce pasta’s, and red meat fish. It’s a basic understanding of how wine’s compliment the flavors on your plate. If you take anything away from this article, it should be this “golden rule” of wine pairing.
For a great pairing no matter what, try pairing a Chardonnay with chicken and white sauce pasta dishes and a Merlot with steaks and red sauce pasta.
Juicy vs. Dry
This is where wine pairings can seem a bit intimidating. It goes down to as simple as a dry dish, or juicy dish. Don’t get too wrapped into the golden rule either, more on that later. A basic rule of thumb for this factor, juicy means order dry wines, and dry dishes means order sweet wines.
Dry wines, with the higher acidity levels, help compliment the mouthwatering flavors of dishes such as steak. Just like sweet wines help enhance the flavors of dryer dishes to include white fish and chicken. Want to impress some folks? Try pairing white wine with a steak, and red wine with chicken. Want advice? Pair an oaked Chardonnay (one that has been aged in oak barrels) with a steak, or a Chenin Blanc. Pair a Pinot Noir with chicken when pairing red wine with white meat.
Hot or Not
The spiciness is another factor I consider when pairing wines. While you are more likely to drink a beer with Mexican dishes or buffalo wings, wines can accentuate dishes such as these. When pairing wines based off of the flavor of the meal, I look at the flavor of the wine.
Spicy pairs well with refreshing wines. The best way for me to describe a refreshing wine is one like a Gewurztraminer, one that has a mineral and floral taste and light acidity. Stay away from the high acidity, high alcohol content wines when it comes to spice. Stick to the floral, mineral, light spice notes wines such as Gewurztraminer, or Gruner Veltliner.
Not a spicy dish? Don’t worry about it, just match the wine to the texture of the dish. To accentuate non-spicy dishes, think of wines that accentuate main flavors of your dish. Good steaks are seasoned with only salt and pepper, pick a wine with spicy or black pepper notes. Chicken and fish dishes normally have acidic flavorings like lemon, so pick something with a bit lower acidity and fruity notes.
*For a steak dinner, you can never go wrong with a dry red wine like Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. For Chicken, an easy wine to pick is a Riesling or Chardonnay.
Instead of opting for a PBR with dinner without even looking at the wine list, take these basic tips and impress your next date by picking a bottle for the both of you. It may seem snobbish to you but, with a basic understanding of how wine works with food and some humility, it’s a small gesture of class. Let’s be honest, the 2018 man is lacking in that subject, but that is why MING is here to help you.