When it comes to wine selection for a particular meal, it can be a bit confusing. So you have just finished preparing a delectable meal for the guests that are soon to arrive. The table is set, the meal is just about ready – and the aroma coming from the kitchen is delightful. The only thing left to do is pour the wine. Which one? Red? White? Sweet or Dry? It really does matter, as the right wine actually compliments the taste of the food being served.
This page is intended to provide some basic education on the various types of wine, and to help you learn how to pair wine appropriately to a meal.
WINE SELECTION DONE RIGHT MAKES FOOD TASTE BETTER
Selecting the right wine takes some practice. The basic rule of thumb is Red Wine for steaks, chops, or lamb, and white wine for fish and green vegetables. Think of it this way – white meat, white wine. A fatty fish would pair well with a dry white wine such as Chardonnay, whereas a lighter fish goes well with a Chablis or Pinot Grigio. Basically, any food that you could squeeze a lemon or lime over would call for a white wine.
Dark meat – red wine. If you are serving roast beef, for example, a red wine with oaky flavors would pair best. A dry red wine, such as Rose’ pairs well with any rich dish, such as one containing a lot of cheese.
If you aren’t sure about wine pairing for a particular meal, you would be safe with a Rose’ Champagne. Champagne pairs well with anything salty.
When it comes to dessert, you will want to serve a lighter wine that is not real sweet. One exception to this is if serving a fruit dessert, a moderately sweet wine will help to emphasize the flavor of the fruit (and not the sugar). Examples of this type of wine would be a Moscato or Asti Spumanti.
TERMINOLOGY RELATING TO WINE SELECTION AND TASTE
An “Oaky” Wine is one which contains oak flavors, such as a smoky or toasty flavor.
A Fruity Wine doesn’t necessarily have to be sweet, (although it can be) but you will taste the fruit itself.
A Soft Wine will be smooth, rather than crisp in the mouth.
A Crisp Wine has a refreshing acidity.
The Aroma or Bouquet of a wine is basically the smell of it. A real wine connoisseur will swirl the wine in the glass, and sniff it before tasting.
When someone refers to the Body of a Wine they are talking about the weight of it in their mouth – whether it feels light, medium, or full bodied.
A Dry Wine is definitely not sweet.
The Finish is the impression the wine leaves with you as you swallow it.
Flavor Intensity refers to a strong, or a weak flavor. (such as its potency)
For additional and more detailed explanations of terminology related to wine from the Wine School of Philadelphia, go HERE
BASIC EDUCATION ON WINE SELECTION AND TERMINOLOGY
Now that you are educated on the basics of wine selection, it is also important to understand the wine glass, itself. There is suggestion that glass size and shape affect the entire wine experience. Brandy, for instance, is usually served in a large bowl type glass, whereas a white dry wine would be best served in a smaller bowled glass. Red wines typically require a larger glass, to allow breathing room.
Don’t waste too much time about which glass to use with which wine – the basic rule of thumb is to use a glass that is large enough to let the wine “breathe” and to allow you “swirling room”. It should be made from a thin glass. The reason for this is so that when you sip, you experience only the flavor of the wine itself, and not the glass.
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