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How to go about pairing food and wine?


With the end of year festivities nearly upon us, so we turn our thoughts to what culinary delights we are going to serve. And when we've gone to all the effort of preparing a special meal, it's only natural to open a good bottle of wine, or the bottle of wine that you've been saving up for just such an occasion! A good meal in good company can become an unforgettable moment, so it's well worth putting that extra little bit of thought in. And a few simple rules can help the task.

The basics

When serving several different types of wine during a meal, it's usually best to work your way up in quality as the meal progresses, or else you run the risk of being disappointed with anything that comes after the first wine served. Often, it's best to start with a more acidic wine, and to then go up in power, finishing with the smoothest wine, but of course, nothing is ever set in stone.

Sometimes the most obvious pairings are indeed the best. Regional dishes served with a local wine are often a winning bet. Wine paired with food of the same colour often goes well together. Red wines for red meats, and white wines with fish to cite the most obvious examples. Naturally, it doesn't mean that colours can never been mixed!

There are however a few combinations that are best avoided. Vinaigrette's generally don't go well with any type of wine, and red wines bring out the bitter side of exotic fruit.

Food and wine pairing by our partner vineyard Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard

 

Pairing ideas for Christmas

The apéritif and the dessert

Often, a sweet wine is served to start with the aperitif or starter. You need to be careful though not to saturate the taste buds, which will then be less receptive to the dishes that follow.

Sometimes champagne is served with the dessert. Whilst this can work, it can be preferable to serve the champagne at the beginning of the meal, as the bubbles will bring freshness and an acidic sensation to help sharpen the taste buds in preparation for the meal to come.

Oysters
We usually match oysters with dry white wines. Fresh, acidic white wines go well, as do slightly saline wines. Riesling wines from Alsace, Chablis and some white Crozes Hermitage can be great, as well of course as a good Muscadet aged on its lees.

Game

Wild game is often strong in flavour and accompanied by a rich and spicy sauce. More complex red wines will go best with this type of dish. For example a Saint-Joseph, a Pic Saint Loup or a Medoc for feathered game, or a Saint-Emilion, Fitou or Minervois for bigger game.

Turkey

To avoid accentuating the dryness of the meat from this bird, its best to go for an elegant wine, red or white, that will bring some freshness. A good red wine from Beaujolais or the Loire, or a white wine from Burgundy or the Cotes du Jura should do you well. For a fruitier wine, try a Mercurey or a Maçon.

Desserts and chocolate

It's time to bring out the sweeter wines, and in France there are a few which go really well, such as a Maury, Banyuls, Rasteau or Madiran.

 

A few less classic matches

Cheese and white wine

More and more people are choosing to serve a white wine with cheese. At Christmas time, some cheeses go particularly well with this association. For example a Vacherin de Mont d'Or with a Côtes du Jura, or a Comté with a "Vin de Paille". Blue cheeses such as a Roquefort go very well with a Sauternes or a port.

Fish and red wine

With its tender and delicate flesh, fish is best suited to delicate wines. A Pinot Noir from Beaune or Volnay can help underline its subtlety.


An original example of food and wine pairing from our partner winery, Allegria

 

Food and wine pairing by our partner vineyard Domaine Allegria

A few months ago now, Domaine Allegria, near Pézenas, worked together with the Cigalon restaurant in Geneva to create a special food and wine tasting evening. The following is the description of their original menu.

To start with, a trio of tuna, salmon and oysters served in a paupiette, matched with the Cinsault Abuelo 2012 red wine from the winery. The tannins of the Cinsault Abuelo are very soft, and the wine has a slightly saline touch on the palate which marries very well with seafood.

The second course was roasted wild prawn on a bed of green papaya, accompanied by the Tribu d'A 2012 white wine. The association with the note of fennel present in the white wine is great. The green papaya brings an acidic touch, making for a very fresh dish.

For the main course, the most unexpected of the evening's pairings. A fillet of red mullet on a bed of wild rice from the Piémont, accompanied by La Belle Histoire 2009. On the powerful meat of the red mullet, the Belle Histoire 2009, revealed velvety tannins, and sumptuous intense aromas.

For pudding, poached pear with spices, served with the Miel Monastrel 2011, a naturally sweet red wine.

 

Of course pairing food and wine is limitless, and fortunately so! There are as many possible pairings as people around the table, and we each have our personal preferences. One thing that is sure though, is that to find that pearl of a match, you have to test different combinations of food and wine, and you have to admit that there are worse ways to spend your time

 

 

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