By Les Kincaid
Summer is here, and pairing a wine selection to an occasion is the first step in finding wines you will truly enjoy this season. Wine matches with food best when the weight and intensity of the wine balance with the weight or richness of the food. Cabernet Sauvignon complements spiced rack of lamb or grilled game because they are equally intense. Pinot Noir makes a better match with roast beef, stews, and mushrooms because the richness of texture is the same in both. Fresh seafood dishes served with lemon (raw oysters, crab, shrimp, and white fish) will pair best with lighter white wines like Sauvignon Blanc. The key is to focus on the sauce, for example a Grenache served with a raspberry glazed pork chop, a Pinot Noir paired with salmon, or a creamy Chardonnay would be perfect for a rich Caesar or Cobb salad. The basic elements are as follows:
Alcohol- Full bodied wines tend to be higher in alcohol, heavy sauces will tend to make these heavier wines taste a little sweet, but salty foods such as ham, bacon and cured meats can make high alcohol wines taste bitter.
Acidity- Balanced acidity in wine is your friend, as it helps food taste vibrant and refreshing, and helps uplift the flavors in the dish.
Sweetness- Peppery and spicy foods like a little sweetness, as do slightly sweet dishes, such as Asian or Indian food and spices paired with a Riesling or Gewürztraminer.
Tannin- Many red wines have bold or elevated tannins, which can complement fatty dishes. Think leg of lamb or slow roasted braised meats, as well as rich, creamy foods, such as blue and aged cheeses.