THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF FOOD & WINE PAIRING
Commandment 3 – LOOK INTO THE MIRROR
One of the easiest ways to make a wine and food seem like they have a natural affinity for one another is to use mirroring when you pair. Mirroring involves pairing two similar characteristics together to bring out that shared characteristic. If you have a peppery dish and want to emphasis the spicy pepper flavors, then pick a wine that has peppery characteristics like a Zinfandel. If you have an earthy, mushroom dish; and want to bring out that essence, pick an earthy wine like a Red Burgundy. It is no mistake that a rich, buttery California Chardonnay has a natural affinity for lobster; which is also rich and buttery.
One of the easiest ways to guarantee mirroring in a pairing is to use the wine you are serving as an ingredient in the food as well. It makes pairings seem like they are meant to be together.
Mirror Flavors and Characteristics that a Dish and a Wine Have in Common
Commandment 4 – FIGHT FAT
While fat is what gives a piece of meat a lot of its flavor, it gets in the way of flavor when eating. Practically every dish has a certain amount of fat in it, and when pairing wine, you should always take that fat into consideration. There are two ways to neutralize fat in a dish and bringing out more of the food’s flavor, using wine pairing: acid and tannins.
Lighter dishes with high levels of fat such as salmon, poultry, cream sauces, and pork; are best paired with wines high in acidity. Think Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The acid in these wines will act like a knife that cuts through the fattiness in a dish, revealing more of its flavor. At the same time, the fat in the dish neutralizes much of the acidity in the wine, “dulling” the knife and making the wine less tart.
For heavier dishes with high levels of fat, we need heavier wines; and typically, the heavier the wine, the lower the acidity. Therefore, we need a different way to contrast fat. These types of dishes are best paired to wines high in tannins; such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The tannins in the wine act like a brick wall that stands up to fat. As tannins settle on the surface of the tongue, they physically block fat. While this is occurring, the fat also helps to lessen the presence of the tannins, so the wine will soften.
Use Acid and Tannins to Contrast Fat in a Dish