Food and wine are two different things but can take you places when paired together. The secret to making excellent pairings is to know and understand the basic flavour profiles.
Great food and wine pairings offer extraordinary gastronomic experiences, whether you’re touring wineries and restaurants in Margaret River or having a small dinner party in your backyard. You don’t have to be a sommelier or a chef to match food and wine like a pro, all you have to do is to sharpen your senses and learn a thing or two about these basic elements.
The Six Main Flavour Profiles
As this chart explains, there are six fundamentals to flavour balancing – weight, flavour intensity and character, acidity, salt, tannin and sweetness. The choice of food and wine should complement each other in a way that these six elements work together to deliver the perfect balance so that food and wine do not overpower each other.
• Weight – Like food, some wines are rich and heavy, such as full-bodied red wines, while some are delicate and lightweight, like white and low-tannin red wines. Hence, it’s better to match food and wine according to weight. For instance, a Sauvignon Blanc blends well with light meat, such as fish and poultry.
• Flavour Intensity and Characteristics – Another element to consider on top of weight is the intensity and character of the flavour. Note that there are some lightweight wines that have bolder flavours and full-bodied red wines that have delicate flavours. The intensity of the wine should always match that of the food make the flavours more pronounced.
• Tannin – Tannin is a substance that makes wine taste bold and bitter. The strongest-flavoured red wines contain tannins. Wines high in tannin are the perfect match to sweet food. This makes the Cabernet Sauvignon a perfect match for steak and red meat.
• Salt – Salt is another key element in improving the flavour of both food and wine. Wines with high acidity will easily drown out the nuances of salt in food. To achieve a perfect match, salty foods should be paired with sweet wine.
• Acidity – The rule of thumb in any flavour combination is to balance the acid with the fat. It’s best to pair fatty foods with high acid wines so they complement each other. The nice acidity of the wine cuts through the oiliness of certain foods.
• Sweetness – Another golden rule in food and wine pairing is that the wine should always be sweeter than the food. When the food is sweeter, the wine will always come off as over-acidic or somewhat sour.
Great wine pairings make for great celebrations. Knowing the basic flavour characteristics and pairing techniques can make you a favourite host among your peers and colleagues, so start making your own pairing list today.