Wine Pairings

Usually I leave my wine information to my special section called “The Wine Rack”, which is in the lower left column. I only post the information periodically to get it into the archives. Several weeks ago I started researching what wine would pair best with turkey. I scoured the net for information, only to be more confused than when I started.

Different sites will inevitably give different suggestions, and mind you, the suggestions are far apart when considering taste and heaviness. Going to local wine shops will also yield different suggestions.

So just what is the answer to the million dollar question… what will pair best with turkey? It seems the answer will lie mostly in the tastes of you and your guests. Someone once told me… if you like it… drink it… while I agree with that advice… there are some things to consider when pairing foods to wine.

In my quest to answer the question… I found a site… Wine Tours –…. that offered a really good list of 10 rules of thumb of things to consider when pairing food and wine. I highly recommend that you take a look at the site… it not only lists the rules of thumb but also has valuable information about the basic flavors in wine. An understanding of the basic flavors in different wines will help you match them to the different flavors found in foods.

Their ten rules of thumb:

1. If you’re taking wine as a gift to a dinner … don’t worry about matching the wine to the food unless you have been asked to. You would need enough information about what is being served to make an informed decision. Just bring a good wine. Match the quality of the food and wine…. a grand dinner deserves a better wine than wine for hamburgers made on the grill.

2. When serving more than one wine at a meal, its customary to serve lighter wines before full-bodied ones. Dry wines should be served before sweet wines unless a sweet flavored dish is served early in the meal. In that case you would match the sweet dish with a sweet wine. Lower alcohol wines should be served before higher alcohol wines.

3. Balance flavor intensity. Pair light bodied wines with lighter food and fuller-bodied wines with heartier, more flavorful, richer and fattier dishes.

4. Consider how the food is prepared. Delicately flavored foods…poached or steamed… pair best with delicate wines. It’s easier to pair wines with more flavorfully prepared food… braised, grilled, roasted or sautéed. Pair the wine with the sauce, seasoning or dominant flavor of the dish.

5. Match flavors. An earthy Pinot Noir goes well with mushroom soup and the grapefruit/citrus taste of Sauvignon Blancs go well with fish for the same reasons that lemon does.

6. Balance the sweetness.

7. Consider pairing opposites. Very hot or spicy foods….some Thai dishes or hot curries…often pair well with sweet dessert wines. Opposing flavors can play off each other, creating new flavor sensations and cleansing the palate.

8. Match by geographic location. Regional foods and wines often have a natural affinity for each other.

9. Pair wine and cheese. In some European countries the best wine is reserved for the cheese course. Red wines go well with mild to sharp cheese. Pungent and intensely flavored cheese is better with a sweeter wine. Goat cheeses pair well with dry white wine, while cheese like Camembert and Brie, if not over ripe, pair well with just about any red wine including Cabernet, Zinfandel and Red Burgundy.

10. Adjust food flavor to better pair with the wine. Sweetness in a dish will “bring out” the bitterness and astringency in wine making it appear drier, stronger and less fruity. High amounts of acidity in food will make the wine seem mellower and less sour….sweet wine will taste sweeter.

I found these rules of thumb to make perfect sense. I think they are an excellent guide for you to think about when choosing wine for your food. Keep in mind your personal tastes and the tastes of your guests.

So what have I decided to pair with turkey? I decided to offer 3 choices…. a Zinfandel because I know several guests really like it and it’s a light wine that I think will go well with the roast turkey…. a full-bodied red wine… probably a Cabarnet…. again because I know that some guests really like it and we will also be serving ham… which I think will go well with it… and a Chardonnay because it has been suggested by several sources as a good pairing and I’m willing to try it with this meal to see what I think of the pairing…. I like Chardonnay which is also a consideration.

I hope this information has been helpful and I strongly suggest you visit Wine Tours for more information to help you decide what’s right for you.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful wine tips! I love Pinot Grigio with goat cheese - yum!

I am going to book mark this for future reference! :D

Linda said...

Great! Glad to be of help!

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize "The Wine Rack" existed on your blog. Glad to know that. We are wine collectors and look forward to future wine posts. Thanks for this post. Good information.

A Year on the Grill said...

I also didn't know your wine rack was here. Thanks for this post, it is well timed for this time of year. I have several parties to go to, and need to be reminded of these ideas before I just grab the funny label (although when it is just my wife and I, a nice bottle of Mad Housewife" goes down good!

shorty said...

"Luna di Luna Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio - A stylish and distinctive wine with an elegant charm that always takes center stage. Well balanced with an abundance of fruit flavors, this blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio offers uncompromised taste and style."

I'm very picky about what Chardonnay I drink... My mother-in-law had this one night at her house. It was the best I've had. Costs a bit more than the "common" brands, but well worth it. And it comes in a pretty blue bottle for those that collect that type of thing.

Judy said...

Linda - this was an excellent post. A lot of great information.

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