Food and Wine
Depending on your personal vintage (i.e. your birth year!) you may well remember the 'white wine with fish, red with meat' mantra of, really, not so long ago. The world of food and wine has changed exponentially in the past 15 years or so, with more choices of every food group available and a seemingly endless array of wines to select from.
There is A LOT of information on the web on the subject of pairing food and wine. There are about as many opinions as there are grape varieties! As you learn more about this fun area of wine, please keep in mind that matching food and wine is not an exact science by any stretch. Just look at these charts to see how diverse the subject area is.
Categorizing and 'pigeon-holing' information can make that information easier to understand. Charts like those above can be very helpful but they can also be a bit misleading. Wine is just not so easily pigeon-holed given all the different grape varieties and wine styles produced together with an infinite number of food pairings.
For example, the literature and charts like those shown will often characterize Pinot Noir as a light bodied wine. While this is certainly true for some styles of Pinot Noir, it is absolutely not true for all Pinot Noirs. Similarly, Gewurztraminer is often referred to as being a sweet white. Again, this is true for some Gewurzs; but not all. Our style of Gewurztraminer, with just 3-4 grams of residual sugar, is decidedly not sweet. What you might pair with our Gewurz you might not pair with a different style and vice versa.
If you find you like Riesling with steak enjoy it for all it's worth! Who is to say you are 'wrong' to like that? There might well be a handful of 'perfect' food and wine matches that really do make a lot of sense, along with a handful of pairings to avoid (Riesling and steak?), but for the most part the majority of this subject area is all trial, experiment and most importantly fun. At least it should be!
We thought we'd share a couple of food and wine matching ideas to get you thinking more about all this.
Some Things To Consider
Get To Know Your Palate
You might be familiar with the taste sensations on your tongue: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. In more recent years, umami and pungency have been added to this list. Umami was first recognized over 100 years ago in Eastern culture and is a Japanese word meaning "good flavor" or "good taste". Pungency is thought to have been a sixth taste derived from Indian and Asian cultures as a reference to the hotness of a dish. Makes sense. Listen a little more to your palate next time you are eating food and drinking wine. You might be surprised about your particular sensitivities to certain tastes by what you learn!
If there's one thing that can completely change the nature of a dish, it's a sauce. What goes in to the sauce can be as important for how the wine will match with the food as the main protein ingredient itself. Creamy sauces are very different to citrus sauces or berry sauces or teriyaki or BBQ and so on. The point here being, don't just think of matching the wine you've chosen to the protein you've decided to cook. The sauce involved, if there is one, is going to play a big part in the overall flavors of the dish and the how the wine pairs. Think about your sauce too!
Herbs and Spices
The spice world is a fantastic place! From heady saffron to spicy chilli, smoky paprika and sweet masala, spices can light up a dish...and completely ruin your wine pairing if you've not thought about your selection. I've always found herbs to be a bit more forgiving, but the amount, type and combination can certainly rule out a particular wine in favour of one better suited so herb's need their due consideration as well.
Texture can be a tricky thing as a heavily textured dish might suggest a heavy wine to match all that food action. But a light wine can work just as well by letting the food be the dominant partner, allowing the wine to highlight the nuances of the dish. This is not to suggest you should grab a Gris and sit down to enjoy a hearty Irish Stew however! Think about textures and consistencies and how they might react to the different components of your chosen wine. You may find yourself changing the wine - or the recipe!
Complements and Contrasts
It's probably more accepted that food should be complemented by a great wine. And it absolutley can. However, a contrasting wine can work just as well in terms of creating a memorable food and wine pairing. Experimenting with different wines and the same plate of food might just throw up some interesting and delicious combinations of food and wine that you enjoy enough to share at your next dinner party! Black and white is a classic combination, but these colours are the epitomy of contrasts. Go against the grain!
One of the many reasons we think Pinot Noir is awesome is because it is so versatile with food. It can also be a moment saver when dining out and you have to order wine for several people who've run the gamut on the menu and nearly every food group will shortly be descending on your table! From spicy meat dishes to smoky fish dishes, herbed encrusted protein racks or wine braised duck, the right Pinot Noir can stand add something to each dish with ease.
When matching your Pinot Noir to food, think about the style of wine. Is it a lighter, younger, red fruit style of Pinot, a rich, dark fruited, full bodied wine or a mature Burgundy that will be full of earthy, mushroomy notes?
The distinctive flavors of our three Pinot Noir bottlings lend themselves to different dishes. Here's a few recipe ideas for matching our Pinot Noirs with food...
Shaky Bridge Pinot Noir 2011
Venison with Pinot Noir Syrup
Devils Backbone Pinot Noir 2011
Thyme and Garlic French Goat Racks
Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Pinot Noir 2013
Sesame Salmon with a Pinot Noir Reduction
Pinot Gris can have a very strong personality allowing it to pair brilliantly with richly flavoured dishes using a variety of proteins and sauces. The food that will best match a particular wine from this grape will depend on the wines weight, acidity and residual sugar content. Know the style of wine to get the best food pairing.
Pinot Gris can match different meats you'd first think would go with a red wine. Pork and chicken are superb with this variety, especially if the wine is higher in acidity and matched with a rich sauce. Pork chops with a cinnamon and clove glaze, apple sauce and a slightly sweet Pinot Gris is delicious. Pinot Gris is a perfect aperitif and appetizer wine and pairs deliciously with spicy recipes as well. Versatile wee grape really!
Shaky Bridge Pinot Gris 2011
Seared Scallops with Lemon Herb Butter Sauce
Devils Backbone Pinot Gris 2014
Spring Rolls with Carrot Ginger Miso Sauce
Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Pinot Gris 2013
Chilli Peach Glazed Grilled Chicken
Gewürztraminer is one of the most aromatic grapes. One whiff and you can get floral, fruit and spice components all rolled in to an exotic, intoxicating delicious wine. Cuisines which incorporate nuts and dried fruits in the dish along with spices of Asia, India and the Middle East all work well with Gewürz. When pairing Gewürztraminer with food, keep in mind the natural floral characters of the wine and how these components mix with the ginger and rosewater and turkish delight flavors that are common in many wines of this variety.
Gewürztraminer is commonly perceived as being a sweet wine, even though it is regularly made in a dry or off-dry style. Such wines can be perceived as sweeter than the sugar level would suggest, so they can balance out the sweetness of certain dishes and in particular desserts. Something as simple as a poached pear with cloves and cardamon ice cream can be a heavenly match with this wonderful variety.
Shaky Bridge Gewürztraminer 2008
Pork Chops with Apples
Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Gewürztraminer 2012
Honey and Spice Poached Pears
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