Supermarket wine tasting

Since we’ve all been banished to our homes for at least the next month, we probably all have a lot of free time that we could put towards learning something new, fun and interesting.

Have you ever thought about wine and food pairing as a slightly pompous topic of conversation and would rather not pay attention to what wine goes best with what and just crack open the sauvy B?

That’s great if you’ve got a go to wine that you love with everything but in case you were looking for a simple project this lockdown, then I will be posting daily about how to detect different layers in wine and to understand how to pair it like a pro. Wine is fun and very easy to understand if you want to!

Here’s the simple rules for wine and food pairing:

  • Wine + Acidity in food = Friends
  • Wine + Salt in food = Friends
  • Wine + Bitterness in food = Would rather not be in the same room
  • Wine + Sweetness in food = Usually avoid each other unless the wine is a sweetheart
  • Wine + Umami in food = Only friends when salt is around
  • Wine + Chilli heat = It’s complicated.

Exceptions to the rules:

  • Simple, very light white wines without any residual sugar will pretty much pair with anything because they do not have any intense or complex flavour to put up a fight with the food.
  • Foods too high in acid might fall out with the wine unless the wine can match up with it’s own super high acidity.
  • Many people find acidity in wine to pair very well with fatty foods by ‘cutting’ through the fat and cleansing the palate…this is subjective and others might think high tannin wines are best to cleanse the palate of fatty proteins.

Now you have the rules, you can put them to the test!

All you need is:

  • Acid – Lemon wedge
  • Salt – Salted crisps
  • Bitterness – Dark chocolate (90% if possible)
  • Sweetness – Haribo
  • Umami – Partly cooked mushroom
  • Fresh chilli (if you dare…)

Try each of these items along with a full-bodied, oaked wine such as a Chardonnay from Margaret River, Australia or Burgundy, France and see how the wines flavour is enhanced! A Chardonnay like this can nearly always be found in a supermarket, also look for Californian styles but there’s really no need to spend big for this fun little experiment.

Chardonnay is quite a neutral grape which has a medium acidity with a slightly higher fruit profile, alcohol and body. All of this makes it a good base for oak ageing.

You might find that the lemon wedge and salted crisps decrease the perception of acidity in the wine and enhances the fruit flavour! The bitter chocolate might enhance the bitterness in the wine, as will the mushroom…until you pair it with a salted crisp. The chilli will probably mask most flavours in the wine and just increase the alcohol burn!

This is an example of how the flavours of one style of wine can change depending on what you eat with it. From this you can start to see how food pairing works and can really enhance your meal!

I will continue to post about specific wine and food pairings that I believe work well and any techniques that might help you to understand each element of the wine better so that you can come up with your own fabulous pairings.


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