A Guide to the Best Wine for Your Meal
One aspect of elevating your dining experience is combining food dishes with the perfect wine. It is a delicate process that can lead to dozens of trials and errors, all to achieve one goal: to heighten the enjoyment of each component.
Creating a sense of balance between food and wine makes a symphony of taste on your palate and adds to the whole meal experience. Whether you’re a casual diner or a wine enthusiast, understanding wine pairing can open up a new world of culinary exploration.
Read on and delve into the basics of wine pairing and know the most famous wine and food combinations, with a particular focus on the exceptional wine offerings and dining experience at Violas in Covent Garden, London.
The Art of Wine Pairing
Wine pairing is not only about matching food and wine to achieve excellence; it aims to unify the two components and improve one’s culinary experience.
There are two basic types of techniques in wine pairing. These are congruent and complementary pairings. Congruent pairings mean that one should pair wine with a meal that shares its dominant flavour, while complementary pairings refer to pairing wine with foods with an opposite dominant profile.
It’s also important to know that wine has several components that affect its flavour. These are sugar, tannin, fruit, acid, and alcohol. When balanced, these attributes constitute a successful pairing, creating a rich texture that fine diners enjoy.
In creating the right balance, wine components should be not only the cause of concern but also the four primary flavours that all of us have known since our childhood. These flavours are sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.
However, a recently discovered “fifth taste,” known as umami, is now widely accepted by researchers, sommeliers, wine enthusiasts, and certified foodies. It is often described as giving vegetables or proteins a savoury or meaty taste.
And it’s even considered the “missing link” in achieving a successful food and wine pairing!
Experts even recommend mastering the incorporation of umami into pairings because it can lead to new flavour horizons. Some elements that you need to know to get the gist of food and wine pairing are:
There are varying levels of sweetness. You must determine these degrees before choosing the perfect wine to pair with your favourite dessert. The rule of thumb here is to have the wine sweeter than the meal, or the wine can lose its flavour. You should also avoid pairing sweet foods with wines rich in tannins, as it can make the meal taste bitter.
The perfect combinations to try here are rich white wines like Chardonnay paired with pork loin with a sweet fruit sauce.
High levels of fat are found in meat and dairy products. Create complementary pairings by enhancing the meal with a wine rich in tannin. The bitterness in tanning can soften fat and improve your meal’s flavours.
You can also ensure that wine’s acidity matches the fat on these meals, or you could match its richness with alcohol. An example is to pair smoky meat or steak with fruit- and berry-flavoured wines.
Wine can be tricky to pair with salty foods. It can make drinks taste weird and bitter, which would cause you to lose your appetite. In that case, acidic and sparkling wines are the perfect choices to balance the dish.
Avoid congruent pairings and try complementary ones instead for this taste. Bitter food with bitter wine will only taste bad. Choose red wines with low tannin instead.
Spicy food increases the wine’s bitterness and acidity while decreasing its body and sweetness. An example of wine to pair with spicy foods is Riesling, but you can also explore your imagination and try more!
This element adds life to wine and food, for example, when you squeeze lemon on a dish. Acidic meals must be paired with wine with at least equal acidity or more; otherwise, the wine can taste bland. Acidic salad dressings, for example, can pair well with Sauvignon Blanc or Sémillon.
Try congruent pairings when matching wine’s texture with foods. Light wines are perfect for light meals, as are heavy wines for heavy meals. You can also experiment by contrasting these elements but be careful not to let them overpower each other.
Popular Wine and Food Combinations
“Red wines and red meat; white wines and light meat.”
This saying is one of the most common advice regarding wine pairing. However, this saying would still leave you with many menu choices.
Here are the most sought-after wine and food combinations that you can try the next time you go for a meal:
Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Meat
The ultimate classic red wine to pair with meat is Cabernet Sauvignon. Its high tannin content creates a drying sensation in the mouth, balancing the mouth-watering richness of meat like steaks or burgers.
Pinot Noir and Earthy Flavours
This drink gives you an earthy sensation, mixed with fruity and berry flavours. Although pairing white wine with fish is the safest bet, you can also pair Pinot Noir with earthy dishes like mushrooms or potatoes.
Pinot Grigio and Seafood
The versatile nature of Pinot Grigio makes it one of the easiest white wines to pair with food. Seafood such as seashells and fish complements well with its light and refreshing flavour, giving diners a taste of summer on a plate.
Rosé and Cheesy Dishes
We know rosés are a summer staple, but all of us can enjoy it year-round! Rosé wines are perfect matches with any cheese. Light rosés can match with fresh cheeses like mozzarella, while dark rosés complement firm cheeses like cheddar.
Sparkling Wine and Salty Flavors
The faint sweetness in sparkling wines makes them the best partner for salty foods. They give a refreshing taste and cut through the richness and oil of fried dishes.
Riesling and Sweet, Spicy Flavors
Off-dry Riesling gives off a slight sweetness that balances the heat of spicy and aromatic dishes. Some examples of meals to pair this with are a spicy green salad or Chinese foods.
Moscato d’Asti and Fruits
Moscato’s fruity and floral flavour blend nicely with fruity desserts like pies and cobblers. It emphasises the fruit flavour of desserts instead of its sugar. Once the taste of these two components combines, you can enjoy a sweet and fruity meal.
Discovering Your Perfect Pairings at Violas
Located in the heart of Covent Garden in London, Violas is known for its exceptional wine offerings and fine dining experience.
It is one of the perfect places to put your wine-pairing lessons into action! Their experienced staff will also give you a hand through the wine pairing process.
However, here are some of the perfect pairings you can try from their menu:
- A glass of Rose Domaine De La Pasture with their crispy cheese bites or the smoky salmon dish, Salmon Tartine
- Merlot Grave is also a perfect pair with cheesy dishes on the menu
- Chardonnay Delle Venezie with chicken and broccoli
- Fitz English White sparkling wine with deeply fried calamari
- Cabernet Sauvignon with a slice of Viola’s infamous chocolate cake.
Ultimately, perfect pairings are still decided by an individual’s tongue palette. Don’t be afraid to experiment and discover new pairings that appeal to you.
Wine pairing is an intricate and complex process that doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember to have fun and drink what you enjoy most.
Violas in Covent Garden provides a wonderful setting to explore the art of wine pairing. Have a visit and allow yourself to indulge in a truly memorable dining experience that combines the finest wines with exquisite dishes.