Fine wine is an acquired taste. The complexities of the different types of wines, regions, flavours, and storage methods are part and parcel of the finished product. Good wine doesn’t have to cost heaven and earth, and many new world wines are challenging the domination of French, Italian and Spanish wines. The best way to fully appreciate the qualities of wine is to pair it with the perfect food. Choosing a compatible wine to go with your meal will elevate the taste of both to another level. They are natural partners, and when compatible, the resulting blend of exquisite flavours come together perfectly. Unless you are a wine connoisseur, choosing the best wine to pair with your food can be an arduous task. A good sommelier can suggest possible combinations and assist with selecting the correct wine.
What characteristics and structure do wine varieties possess?
Wines of the same varietal share similar fundamental characteristics. Merlot, for instance, has varying degrees of ripe fruit aromas reminiscent of cassis, raspberry, black cherry, and plum. It is also infused with herbaceous or spicy tastes. Nevertheless, within the same varietal, the flavour can differ due to their unique style and characteristics derived from the overall wine-making process. Merlot is sometimes stored and aged in toasted oak barrels resulting in a slightly woody or smoky/char flavour. Pinot Grigio is another popular variety that has a typically dry and tart Old World style.
The wine generally has a fuller-bodied, and sometimes off-dry, New World style. The structure of the wine means the combination of alcohol, sweetness, acid, and tannins. These are the basic taste components of a bottle of wine, and can create a three-dimensional taste sensation in your mouth. Better wines generally have more detectable and pleasing structures. The ‘finish’ of the wine relates to the length of time the wine’s taste and texture linger after swallowing.
What is the ideal wine to go with specific kinds of food?
Next, we come to the food. When choosing a bottle of wine, you will need to consider the food. Full-bodied wines such as Merlots and Cabernets are better suited to rich food dishes. Fruity tasting wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio work perfectly with lighter dishes like grilled fish. The more simple wines work quite well as aperitifs. The more complex the wine, the more full the range of food flavours that it complements or enhances. Everyone knows the basic ‘white wine with fish’ rule; however, effective wine pairing very often has a lot to do with the sauces used in the preparation of the food as much as the main ingredients themselves. Spicy dishes generally work quite well with off-dry wines low in tannins.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic pairing for rich and fattier red meats and is a tannic red wine. Some wines are fine if consumed close to their production dates, such a Beaujolais Nouveau. There are a few red wines with qualities like mouth-puckering tannins, which soften somewhat after they are aged a while, improving their flavours. Higher priced wines are generally superior, yet you cannot always equate a higher price with top quality. Some of the best wines can be relatively inexpensive, and some more expensive wines can be mediocre. Even the best winemakers cannot guarantee consistency from one vintage to another.
Who can suggest the perfect wine to go with your food?
No matter what type of wine you buy, it is served best at the correct temperature. That will ensure it brings out the best of the wine’s flavours, aromas, and structure. Choosing the best wine for your food is a complex decision that isn’t as simple as ‘white wine with fish, red with meat’. The best-qualified person to make a valued suggestion, taking in all the complexities of the food and wine, is the sommelier. Years of experience and in-depth knowledge count for something, and the sommelier is the best person to suggest the perfect wine to accompany the perfect meal at Surf N Turf!