Delicious food and great wine are a natural combination. Matching the two so that neither dominates the other to make a winning partnership is not difficult. Some advice for pairing food and wine can be overly strict, however the truth is that there are some basic time-tested guidelines to help you plan meals and parties.
Richer foods need a richer wine that won’t fade in comparison, while light foods need a delicate wine, so the flavours in the dish aren’t overwhelmed. Don’t forget that the dominant feature of a dish can sometimes be the sauce rather than the main ingredient.
Cabernet Sauvignon is one the world’s most widely grown red wine grape varieties and is grown in nearly every major wine producing country. The grape is originally from the Bordeaux region of France, where it was the chance 17th century crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc. Classically it tends to be full-bodied with high tannins and noticeable acidity. In Australia it often has eucalyptus or menthol notes.
Steak is an obvious partner for Cabernet Sauvignon, especially cuts like ribeye or sirlion. Slow-braised beef or a leg of lamb is always a winner when cooked in red wine.
Hard cheeses like an aged cheddar or gouda go well with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Australia’s history with the grape dates back well to the mid 19th century. Shiraz is so important to Australian viticulture that it is the most planted grape variety in the majority of Australian vineyards and has become virtually synonymous with the country’s wine regions. Shiraz wine tends toward bright fruit flavors – most frequently blueberries, blackcurrants and black cherries.
Shiraz partners well with big flavours, such as barbecue beef, or even kangaroo. Roast beef or lamb, and stews with a touch of chilli work well, also strong hard cheeses like cheddar.
Pinot Noir is a lighter bodied red wine originally from the Burgundy region of France now grown through out the world. Australian Pinot Noir is typically low in colour pigmentation, has a perfumed nose and shows red fruit such as cherry, raspberry and blood plum flavours balanced by smooth tannins.
Charcuterie, ham and other cold meats make great partners. As do patés, terrines, and goat cheese.
Chardonnay originated in the Burgundy region of France and is now grown wherever wine is produced through out the world. It tends to be a medium to light body wine with noticeable acidity. In warmer regions, such as Australia, the flavours become more citrus, peach, and melon.
The classic pairing for Chardonnay is white meat, such as roast chicken, however mushrooms or oysters also go well.
Pinot Gris is a refreshing, popular medium bodied white wine that partners well with light, summery foods such as tapas or salads. The Australian varieties tend to have moderate to low acidity, higher alcohol levels and an almost “oily” texture that contributes to the full-bodied nature of the wine.
Pinot Gris will partner well with antipasti, especially seafood or vegetables, or light pasta sauces such as seafood or napoli. Light seafood or vegetable risottos and salads make a great pairing. It is also great with fried fish or vegetables.
Sparkling wines, such as champagne and prosecco, contain significant levels of carbon dioxide in it, making it fizzy. While the phrase commonly refers to champagne, EU countries legally reserve that term for products exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wines are great with delicate flavours and also fried food as their acidity and mouth-feel won’t overpower.
Some great partnerships are bire, shrimp and shellfish, smoked salmon, caviar, oysters. Fruit based desserts, such as tarts or crepes, go well.