Food and wine matching is never a simple task. Primarily it is a question of personal taste and opinion. However there are a few basic "rules" which can help you successfully match fine wine with a good meal, thereby making it so much more enjoyable.
It is a measure of residual sugar (RS) left after fermentation ? no RS = dry, a lot RS = sweet. The general principle is to drink wine that is at least as sweet as as what you are eating if not sweeter, or the wine will be overpowered by the food.
Acidity keeps balance with sweetness. Low acidity wines such as New World Chardonnay and Merlot, go best with plain flavours and grilled meats. High acidity varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chablis go well with acidic food (lime flavours, tomato), creamy buttery sauces and oily fish. The acid cut through thick heavy sauces.
Tannin gives a very distinctive texture and drying sensation on the roof of ones mouth and around the gums. It is a natural preservative originating in grape skins, pips and oak barrels. Higher levels of tannins soften heavily textured meals such as red meat, rich sauces and cheese.
The weight of wine will often work well with food of proportional weight. Try to match light or heavy food, in terms of flavour, texture and richess, with a wine of similar body.
It also effects how full a wine tastes. As a general rule, the alcohol should be in relation to the richness of the dish and not overpower it.
Complementary flavours will tend to mirror the flavours of the food. For example a full appley Chardonnay will match well with pork or Cabernet Sauvignon with a meat dish in a rich sauce. Contrasting wine flavours tend to cut through flavours of the food or 'break them up'. For example Pinot Noir and duck.
Alsace Riesling - Pork, Fish
Barolo - Roast Meats
Chablis - Oysters, Seafood
Red Burgundy - Boeuf Bourguignon
Red Bordeaux - Lamb, Roast Meats
Sauternes - Foie Gras
Port - Blue Cheese
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