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Things To Know About Food & Wine Pairing

We all have noticed that when food and wine are consumed together always have a different taste, than either would when consumed separately. So, we clearly understand that both have an effect on each other in terms of taste, when combined. 

Things To Know About Food & Wine Pairing


But, how can we decide which is the right Food & Wine pairing?

Hmm, it can be nerve breaking sometimes, but if some basic guidelines are followed, it can be easy for everyone to figure out plenty pleasurable combinations and, be able to avoid unpleasant interactions!

What everybody should pay attention to, are the personal preference, as well as, the different sensitivities to various flavors and aromas that each person may have.

How Food Interacts With Wine?
When you place food in your mouth, your taste buds adapt so that the perception of levels of sugar, salt. acid etc. of the next item to be tasted can be altered. A way to understand how this works is to taste some lemon juice immediately after using toothpaste, the taste of lemon will be extremely acidic. Additionally, foods like whipped cream or chocolate can have a mouth coating effect that impairs the sense of taste.

In general, food has greater impact on the way a wine will taste than the other way round so, it is more helpful to begin with the components of a specific food we would like to pair with wine. The two components in food that tend to make wines taste 'harder' are Sweetness and Umami, (taste more bitter, more acidic, less sweet and less fruity). The two components whose presence in food tends to make wines taste 'softer' are Salt and Acid (less bitter, less acidic, sweeter and, more fruity).

Sweetness in Food
• Increases the perception of bitterness, acidity and the burning effect of the alcohol in the wine.
• Decreases the perception of body, sweetness, and fruitiness in the wine.

As an example sweetness in a dish can make a fruity white dry wine seem flabby, non-fruity and unpleasantly acidic. With any dishes containing sugar, a good general rule is to select a wine that has a higher level of sweetness.

Umami in Food
• Increases the perception of bitterness, acidity and the burning effect of the alcohol in the wine.
• Decreases the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness in the wine.

Umami is a savory taste, distinct from the other primary tastes, although it is not that easy to isolate it. Umami is more likely to be present together with other tastes so, a simple way to experience it is to compare the taste of a raw mushroom with one that has been cooked for a minute. The umami taste of the mushroom increases with cooking.

Many foods like asparagus, eggs, mushrooms and ripe soft cheeses contain high levels of umami and are considered difficult to pair. While, other foods such as cured or smoked seafood and meats and, hard cheeses like Parmesan that are high in umami, are considered less difficult to pair, as they tend to be high in salt, which can counteract the impact of umami on the wine.

Acidity in Food
• Increases the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness in the wine
• Decreases the perception of acidity in the wine.

If you like to enjoy a very high acid wine some acidity in food will balance the acidity in wine and boost its fruitiness. On the other hand, if you choose a low in acidity wine, high levels of acidity in food can make your wine seem flat and flabby.

Salt in Food
• Increases the perception of body in the wine
• Decreases the perception of bitterness and acidity in the wine.

Salt is another food component, which can help soften some of the harder elements in wine.

Bitterness in Food
• Increases bitterness in wine.

Bitter flavors add to each other. This means that we may have a pleasant level of bitterness in the food and in the wine, but when we combine the bitter elements of both it will probably end up to be very bitter!

Chili Heat in Food
• Increases the perception of bitterness, acidity, and alcohol burn
• Decreases the perception of body, richness, sweetness and fruitiness in the wine.

Chili heat is more than a taste, it's a tactile sensation and the levels of sensitivity can be different for each person. Furthermore, there is also a huge variation in how pleasant or unpleasant this effect feels to the Individual. Remember that as the level of alcohol in wine increases, the intensity of the burning sensation of the chili increases as well.

Other Things To Consider

 Flavor Intensity
Usually we prefer to match the flavor intensities of the food and wine, wine should complement food and food should complement wine and, not the one to overpower the other. Although, in some cases, an intensely flavored food, such as chicken curry can be paired with an unoaked light white. Also, some lightly flavored desserts can be successfully paired with intensely flavored sweet wines.

Acid and Fat
Many people love to pair fatty or oily foods with acidic wines. In this kind of pairing the acidic wine 'cuts through' the richness of the food and provides us with a pleasant sensation while it cleans up our palate. Think of an acidic PDO Santorini wine combined with a fillet of salmon!

Sweet and Salty
It is pleasurable for a lot of people to combine sweet and salty flavors, and sometimes it can lead us to some very successful food and wine pairings, such as Roquefort cheese and sweet wine.

An interesting way to understand how things work is to examine successful pairings you have already enjoyed, and analyze the reasons for this success. After that, you can probably try to find another suitable wine for the same food and, check if your selection is correct.
An example, we know that a fresh Assyrtiko can be a good pair with mussels, because:

• It has a relatively light in flavor so, we are still able to enjoy the delicate flavor of mussels
• It's high in acidity and seems refreshing even when oysters are eaten with lemon juice.
• It is unoaked so, there is no bitter component to be spoiled by the umami taste of the mussels.

From Greek Wine Insider

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