With the warmer weather becoming a distant memory and the dark cold days of winter coming, thoughts turn to hunkering down in front of the fire and indulging in comfort foods. When pairing your wine to your meal there are 5 factors about the wine to consider: tannins, the body or ‘weight’, acidity, intensity and sweetness.
Tannins are the components in red wine that make your mouth feel dry and give a wine its texture. When served with food tannins will soften proteins and provide a good balance to fatty foods. Therefore such wines go well with rich meats and cheeses.
Body is the perception of weight in a wine. A light body wine will feel lighter in your mouth than a wine that is full-bodied. When pairing with foods, it is best to pair full-bodied wine with heavier foods.
Acidity in wine generally ranges from being soft and light, like a pear, to crisp and bright like a lemon. Acidity will cut through rich and fatty foods. Wines with crisp acidity pair well with rich meats and cheeses, creamy sauces and oily foods.
Intensity is the speed in which the wine’s aromas and flavours react to your sense of smell and taste. Wines with more intense flavour and aroma (bouquet) will be best with subtly flavoured foods like creamy pasta, risotto or mild cheeses.
Sweetness relates to the taste of the wine rather than the actual amount of sugar content. When pairing a wine with food the wine should taste as sweet as, or sweeter than the food. Sweet wines also pair well with spicy foods.
Based on this information it can be a simple process to pair wine with your favourite comfort foods. For example here are some suggested wines to pair with my own comfort foods:
- Homemade Mac & Cheese
Light unoaked Chardonnay goes well but if you like to add lobster or crab then a white Burgundy or Chenin Blanc may be more to your liking
- Spaghetti and meatballs
A red wine such as Sangiovese, Chianti, Barbera, a fruity acidic Merlot or a Zinfandel
- Homemade Pizza
Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Merlot
- Grilled Cheese
Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), Gewürztraminer or Riesling
- Meat Lasagna
Primitivo, Sangiovese, Barbera or Valpolicella
- Chicken Noodle soup
Pinot Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay or light-bodied, low-tannin reds such as Beaujolais, Gamay, Baco Noir or Pinot Noir
- Beef stew
Red Bordeaux, Malbec, Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon
- Chicken and dumplings
Malbec or Zinfandel
- Shepherd’s pie
Syrah (Shiraz) or Zinfandel
- Chicken pot pie
Chardonnay or Merlot
Comfort food and a nice glass of wine; what better way to brace yourself for the cold weather ahead!