“Wine, one sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams.” -John Milton
It is just as essential to pair the right type of sauce to a dish, as it is to pair the right kind of wine to your, in fact, every course of a meal. Well, as pairing wine seems to be quite a burden to people, I will help in stating some basic rules of thumb.
As any sommelier would suggest, it is important to pair the wine to the people, rather than their meal. The significance of pairing, nevertheless, still remains intact. Wines are known to accentuate flavours and stir up one’s senses to a better culinary experience. But obviously, wine pairing is not every one’s cup of tea. It is also important to remember that there are no restrictive “Black and White’s” in wine pairing. While a few classic pairings remain as most desirable, experimenting with new flavours would do no harm.
Bear in mind that the foodstuffs of a region or country will often pair well with the local wines, as they have both evolved to complement one another. A few standard combinations of pairing white wine to white meat and red wine to red meat have always been treated like a delicacy. The festive season of Christmas seems to have left a good taste; for the combination of turkey with red wine was a definite teaser. Turkey, alone, may prove to be quite unpalatable and dry.
Another rule which one could follow would be to “Contrast and Compliment”. Combining a fresh and acidic white wine with a rich, oily fish dish is an example of contrast, where the wine is different in character to the food, yet still complementary. The combination of a sweet wine with pudding is an example of food and wine complementing one another, both working together through their similar trait, sweetness.
Another classic example would be the cheese and wine pairing, which go along as well as strawberries and whipped cream (Hmmmmm…..).But here too there are a few guidelines to be followed. Generally pairing white wines with soft cheese and strong flavours is preferable, since red wines contain tannins, which when combined with the layer of fat left on the palate by the cheese, leave an unpleasant taste to deal with. Ultimately, the perfect wine and cheese pairing is not a match made in heaven. It is a match made on the palates of individuals of varied tastes.
Wine, although, has very recently gained popularity and acceptance by the Indian palate. Indian wines are asserting themselves like never before. More people are drinking them, more restaurants are serving them and production is struggling to keep pace with demand. This has gone on to ensure that wine now becomes an esteemed part of a fine dining experience. But to ensure that fine dining experience, while pairing, keep in mind that the conventional wisdom can take a break; if it tastes good, then go for it!
Amanjit Singh Khanna