We were absolutely thrilled to follow the launch of Look and Taste this week, surely one of the most exciting, innovative and universally-appealing websites to come out of Ireland. We were even more delighted a few weeks ago when Chief Spud Peeler Niall Harbison invited us to write for the site’s Wine blog, in the esteemed company of Robert Francis Wine, Sour Grapes and our Cork neighbours Bubble Brothers.
So in place of our regular food and wine post, here’s our first post for the splendiferous Look and Taste. What better place to start I figured, than a few pointers to matching two of life’s greatest pleasures.
It’s not science
The first thing we’ll do is dismiss the notion that food and wine pairing is an exact science, or something to get too het up about. Barring disastrous but mostly obvious mismatches, like red wine and ice-cream, most wine will add to the enjoyment of most food. However, it is equally true that a well matched wine can turn a good meal into an exceptional one.
So here are five quick tips to make every meal that little bit more special:
This is simple, strong-flavoured foods need strong-flavoured wines, so a Chenin Blanc will be lost on a Beef Bourguignon. Likewise, delicate foods need light wines, so a full flavoured Merlot will just overpower a lemon sole.
Use reverse logic
Rich, buttery dishes don’t need rich, buttery wines, in fact they need the opposite – something acidic to cut through the richness. Similarly, spicy foods are well matched with light, off-dry or medium wines to counter the heat.
Again using the opposite rule, pairing a complex wine with a complex meal will provide too many competing flavours. Pair complex food with simpler wines, and vice versa.
This sounds crass but the logic is sound. An expensive wine would be wasted on pizza, whereas a cheap supermarket wine will do little to accentuate a carefully prepared fine meal with expensive ingredients.
Match country of cuisine with country of wine
Often the best guide of all. This is obvious when you think about it as wine-making and cooking evolved side-by-side, whether it’s Coq au Vin and red Burgundy, or a steak on the barbeque with a peppery Aussie Shiraz.
So there you go. Now try and get away with one bottle for a three-course meal for two in a restaurant.