Food and wine pairing basics
To help you fill your life with all the greatness that wine has to offer, we have prepared for you some basic food and wine pairing tips. The purpose of food and wine pairing is to enrich the taste of both food and wine by combining the right elements. The basic principle dictates to pair red wines with stronger dishes and white wines with lighter ones. However, this is not always enough.
When making your choices, you also need to consider how the food was prepared, what spices were used, who will be eating the food, what part of the year it is, and even your budget. At the end of the day, there is only one universal rule – choose the wine that you know and like. You may create an eccentric combination, but at least you will enjoy your favourite wine.
Things used to be simple: local food was paired with local wines, while outside of the wine-growing regions, there was a tendency to drink white wine with white fish and meat and red wine with red meat and game. Light wines would precede the heavier ones and dry wines would come before sweet wines. Furthermore, there were some well-established combinations, like drinking Sherry or Madeira with soup and Sauternes with foie gras.
These old rules have in most part changed; however, it is still a good guideline to combine wine and food according to colour. For example, chicken and pork go well with red and white wines, while tuna, salmon, and other fish prepared in red sauce pair perfectly with red wines, which contain less tannins. You may also find that roast chicken is more enjoyable with red wine, while cold cuts go better with Chardonnay.
When pairing food and wine, the taste of food needs to be balanced with wine so that one does not overpower the other. A lasagne cooked with red wine, bacon, garlic, and mushrooms, needs to be accompanied by a heavier red wine, whether it is based on poultry or beef. Furthermore, poultry prepared in rich sauce requires heavier, more structured wines (e.g. Pinot grigio Bagueri or Chardonnay Bagueri).
In addition, you need to consider the acidity and sweetness intensity. The acidity of the food needs to be balanced with the acidity in your glass, otherwise the wine will feel bland. Dishes with a more intense acidic profile pair well with the more acidic white wines and even lighter red wines, such as the Quercus young red wine. However, you should not mix them with red wines rich in tannins, as these become more intense and bitter in acidic environment.
Desserts: wines that are served with desserts need to be at least as sweet as the food, otherwise they will taste bitter. Very sweet food makes red wines astringent, dry, more tannic, or even bitter.
Pairing food with wines matured in barriques also requires special consideration. These wines are good to balance food with a robust flavour profile, such as grilled dishes, red bell peppers, cheese dishes, etc. If your combination is not great, you can cleanse your palate with water. Furthermore, butter and cream also soften intense flavours and can decrease the metallic or bitter taste that spinach and anise give to some wines. The same can be achieved with moderate amounts of cheese.
Wines should be served in such order that no wine overpowers the one that came before it. Also worth considering is the geographic origin of wine, as wine and food from certain regions simply belong together.
Sparkling wines: served as aperitif to whet the appetite or alongside food to complement the dish. Fresh dry sparkling wines go well with sea food entrees and even with other dishes, such as cod or English roast beef, depending on their sugar content and maturity. We recommend trying the Klet Brda Sparkling Quercus, which is a semi-dry Chardonnay and Rebula blend, or our great Sparkling Rebula.
Lighter white wines are usually served with entrees, sea food, and simple fish dishes, while fish in sauces go better with stronger white wines. White wines with residual sugar perfectly complement almond or hazelnut desserts and goat cheese (Rebula Quercus, Sauvignon Blanc Quercus, Pinot Bianco Quercus).
Rosé wines have a lighter and fresher taste, which makes them perfect with entrees and smoked or white meat (Rose Quercus).
Predicate wines with their interesting aromatic profile pair well with duck and goose liver, truffles, and Roquefort cheese (Pikolit).
Red wines differ by their tannin content. They go well with medium sharp cheeses and slightly spicy poultry, veal, lamb, or rabbit dishes. Game and grilled dishes are usually accompanied by stronger red wines (Merlot Bagueri), while duck and goose are great with young red wines (Krasno Red blend).
Cooking with wine:
In cooking, we use wine for marinades, seasoning, or special dishes and colour combinations (red risotto). When preparing meat, we use it as a condiment to improve the taste but also to soften the meat.
If you used wine to prepare your dish, you should serve that dish with the same wine. Your cooking wine should be of good quality and chosen carefully. It is misguided to think that any wine is good enough for cooking.