2 bottles of wine on table with vegan snacks

Wine pairing

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”

W.C. Fields

Food is our energy, our life force, and it should always be enjoyed in the most mindful way. Preferably with friends or family to share this pleasure with. A glass of wine is a great important part of enjoying the full senses of this energy you are giving yourself. To explore the fun of wine pairing with certain foods, keep on reading…

The pairing of food with wine ideally provides more pleasure than either would if it would be consumed separately. To understand this interaction, we will first have to accept and realise that every human being tastes differently. Not only that, but our level of sensitivity to various aromas and flavours are hugely diverse. So, I always advise people to try! Try different wines with different food and decide for yourself that what works best for you.


General rules

There are though some general rules which we can follow. Certain food characteristics have a certain influence on your wine experience. Most often the food intensity and flavours will influence your wine. It is not often the other way around, though some wines can influence the food flavour, but this happens mainly with animal based proteins and fats. So, for vegan food and wine pairing this is not really of importance.

Sweetness in a dish can make a dry wine seem less fruity, and more acidic. So for very sweet dishes (like desserts) you probably want to find a wine with a higher level of sweetness.

Umami (think of cooked mushrooms and miso) might make a wine bitterer and more acidic. So naturally this would pair better with a lighter wine with soft tannins (pinot noir). Or a dry white (or champagne), with medium acidity.

Acidity in food is often a good thing for food and wine pairing. It can handle a very high acidic wine very well. High acidity in food would make the wine taste sweeter and fruitier. However if you would drink a wine with low acidity it will become a lot less fruity and flat.

Salt enhances flavours. It does that in food, but as well so with the accompanying wine. It will make a wine seem fruitier, and can soften the tannins in red wines.

Fatty and oily foods make any wine less acidic. So high acidic whites normally go very well with creamy and fatty dishes, or try a red with high tannins, which would work as a palate cleaner like the high acidic whites.

The effects of hot chilli’s increases with high alcoholic wines. The liking or disliking of this sensation is very personal. Some people prefer a nice cold refreshing beer with very hot/spicy foods.


Food and wine intensity

When speaking about wine, without going into official tasting terms we often hear comments like;

  • Light and fresh, or crisp
  • Aromatic, floral
  • full and rich
  • light and fruity
  • Full bodies and savoury, or earthy
  • fatty or buttery
  • soft and silky
  • deep and spicy

 Without knowing or having a full tasting profile, these terms give you a good idea about the balance and intensity of the wine. With food it’s the same thing. We speak about;

  • light and crisp
  • fatty, creamy and buttery
  • tangy
  • spicy
  • full and rich

Well in wine pairing there is the general idea that we should always match the intensity of the dish with the intensity of the wine. ‘ Great with great and humble with humble’. Probably intuitively you would not serve a full bodied and bold Cabernet Sauvignon, with a crispy light summery salad. As you wouldn’t serve a light, fruity and delicate wine with a heavy, rich stew. That is indeed the idea about wine pairings. Go with your feeling and intuition. Think about the main characteristic of your dish, and try and find a good balance with the wine.

Having said that; If you would have a very rich, creamy dish (like a dish with a rich vegan ‘cheesy’ sauce. You probably do not want to pair it with a very rich aromatic gewurztraminer. The fullness and richness together with the full aromas would just be a bit too much. There you would think more of a high acidic wine, to cut through the richness and the creaminess of the dish. So in this case you would use the general rules of flavour interactions (As mentioned above in the general rules paragraph) above the intensity balance rule.


Recipes with wine pairing

In most of my Lunch/dinner recipes I have included wine pairing suggestions. These are all just suggestions to point you in a certain direction. But the most important thing of all is to discover your own palate, and your own pairing likings. There is no right or wrong!

And if you are experiencing a complete ‘Blank’, … Go for a Rosé! A dry , fruity Rosé will pair with almost everything! A true winner.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Champagne or sparkling wines are not only for the special occasions. They can work magic in food & wine pairings.

Good luck! and ENJOY! if you have any questions, or would like to get some specific wine pairing advice, contact me! I am more than happy to share our thoughts and find your perfect match! Cheers Nicole


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