The most frequently asked question by customers who have an interest in wine is ‘How do I successfully pair food and wine?’ Most people will have very little idea about this, which is not surprising. A good restaurateur will always advise, but when you are buying for a party or special occasion, it’s nice to have a basic idea of where to start with food and wine pairing. Here is a beginner’s guide to get you started.

Red and White

The most that many people know about food and wine combining is that red meat calls for red wine and chicken or fish is better with white. This is generally true, but it’s interesting to know why. The tannins in red wine will be rounded out and softened when combined with the fat in red meat dishes. The more acidic taste of white wine complements fish or chicken just as lemon juice or oranges do. It enlivens the palette and brings out the flavour of these blander dishes. That really is all the chemistry behind the choice of red or white. Acidity and tannin levels are the arbiters of wine and food choice, not the colour per se.

Break the Rules Sometimes

Just because you have white meat, like chicken or pork on the menu, don’t be too rigid in your interpretation of the tannins and acid rule. For example, if your pork dish is cooked in a rich thick highly-flavoured sauce then you can happily opt for the tannins that red wine has to offer. The secret is to think of what the most dominant flavour of your main course will be and match your wine accordingly.

Put an Acid Wine with Acid Dishes

You might think that an acidic white wine with an acidic meal would either clash or be too much. But think again. What you are doing is accentuating the acidic notes of your dish, not swamping them. This applies to both red and white wines. If you have a fruity rich pork dish, you could augment the acidity of the dish with a more acidic, low tannin red wine if you’re a red wine lover. Don’t be afraid to ask your wine seller for advice on the kind of meal you’re serving and ask for recommendations. Wine sellers love talking about wine and they’ll be happy to help you choose. When choosing what to drink suppliers of quality wine come into their own – they know their cellars inside out and will always be able to help you make the right choice.

Hot Dishes Need Cool Wines

One of the hardest things to get right is a wine that complements hot dishes, such as curry. Many people just opt for beer instead as they just can’t work it out. The principle here is that tannin heavy wine will simply not go with hot food, so just forget that. You need a sweeter, lighter wine choice. Many people dislike sweeter wines, but they do go surprisingly well with hot dishes and it’s worth experimenting with this combination.

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