If you skipped last week’s issue of CL, you missed out on some great rules to live by when selecting a bottle of wine. Those rules were related to me by Mr. Joyce, a globetrotting CEO who opened my ears to the “wine speak” that I had thus far interpreted as gibberish. (You can catch up by reading the column at cltampa.com/food.)
Now that you know how to choose the right wine, let’s move on to pairings.
I used to say this when I didn’t know anything about wines, and I will say it again now (though this time with a little more authority): The right wine pairing is the one you enjoy drinking.Don’t forget this as the cardinal rule. In fact, this rule doesn’t apply exclusively to wine. Some meals are much more enjoyable with beer, club soda, Pepsi, or heck — even Kool-Aid! It all depends on your personal tastes and occasion.
But let’s come back to wines. When I look at a food to pair, I only pay attention to three main things: The color, the density (is it heavy or light?) and the taste (is it sweeter or more savory?). This allows me to match a wine to go with it.
Color. If the main star of the plate is red (as in a steak), I know that I’m going with a red wine to match the color. If it’s a chicken breast or a fillet of white fish I will go with a white. If it’s a pink duck breast I will go with a rose. If it’s a mushroom risotto (brown is part of the yellow spectrum) I will go with a dry white (yellow). You get the idea, right?
Density. If I look at the density — a steak versus a piece of salmon — they are both red, but one is light (salmon) and one is heavy (the steak). So I would choose a lighter rose wine for the salmon and a heavier dark red wine for the steak. Here I’ve matched both color, and density. How do I judge the density for wine? By how much light can show through the wine.
Taste. Taste is quite easy. Generally speaking, wine is either sweet or dry. It’s not hard to do a simple wine tasting at your local wine store to see which ones are sweeter and which ones drier. Now, when you taste your dish, you can tell if it’s a savory dish or a sweet dish (and there is a gradual scale between the two, as there is with wine). So you can use this to match your wine. For example, I would match a fruity white or rose to BBQ pork ribs (sweet), and a dry white to Dijon pork chops (savory). Here I have matched both the taste and the color.
With the help of Mr. Joyce, I have managed to cultivate not only an understanding of how to choose a good wine, but also a simple pattern of pairings that works very well for me. Hopefully, his advice comes in handy for you, too. Remember: Keep it simple.
saigon deli is the best one!
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