The rules about food and wine pairing are a lot more flexible these days. Even on the most serious of wine lover’s table, it’s possible to find a juicy steak alongside a serious white blend and a pinot noir can make the right kind of fish dish fly. However, there are a few definite no-nos. Here are five hints to save you from lip-puckering palate clashes:
TOOTHPASTE AND CHEWING GUM
While you should brush those pearly whites after a glass or two of red wine, toothpaste and wine don’t go together. The same goes for minty chewing gum. If you want to enjoy your wine, ditch the fresh breath beforehand.
SPICE IS NOT ALWAYS NICE
It should come as no surprise palate-singeing spices do no favours to any delicate wine drunk alongside them. If you must enjoy a glass with a spicy dish, avoid semi-sweet wines and rather opt for an off-dry riesling or rosé, a dry MCC or a ripe pinot noir.
Generally, sugary desserts clash with the tannins in wine. Of course, dessert wines are the exception. Contrary to the increasingly popular wine and chocolate paring trend, it's a complicated match due to chocolate's combination of tannins, fattiness, sweetness and earthy flavour. When you drink dry red wine with it, the wine takes away the fattiness and sweetness, leaving harsh tannins and a sour taste in their place.
Essentially, vinegar is spoiled wine, so it makes sense that you shouldn’t pair too much of it with a good wine. If the taste of vinegar dominates a dish, it can make the most delicious wine taste terrible. A dash of vinegar in a meal, however, isn’t a problem for the wine it’s paired with.
Rule of vine...
Beyond these flavour clashes, there is a basic rule you can apply when it comes to the wine you pair with your next meal — light wines tend to go better with lighter foods and more complex wines with richer meals. Remember, the dish and the wine should be equal partners, with neither overwhelming the other.
To test whether a wine and a dish will go well together, take a sip of the wine, then take a bite of the food. Then taste the wine again (it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it). If the flavours of the wine haven’t changed, it’s a good match.