Food and Wine Pairings for Summertime

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I hope my most recent post What Type of Wine Drinker Are You was the source of a few smiles for you and your friends.

In this post I want to take a little more serious route and talk about food and wine pairings for summertime. In my house we are fond of a salad and or a BBQ, especially when summertime arrives in the Sunny South-East of Ireland.

I’ll cover some flavour basics first, suggest popular wine pairings, and then get specific on salads and BBQs.

No matter where you lie on the spectrum of balancing food flavours with wines, some of them are extremely difficult. To complicate matters, there are wines called ‘twin wines’ which can easily fool even the experts.

However, I firmly believe that having even a little bit of knowledge will help intensify the enjoyment of your eating and drinking during the summer months.

How Do Food and Wine Pairings Work?

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Let’s have a quick look at the basic flavours. Wine flavours are derived from specific components, such as sugar, acid, fruit, tannin and alcohol. Foods have similar components but also have fat, salt and bitters, that a wine won’t have.

Bearing in mind the components I have just mentioned, we can list a few elements that make both white and red wine pairings work with food. These elements are fat, acid, salt, sweetness, bitterness and texture.

Obviously, matching similar components will bring success, but also note that pairing contrasting components can also work well. So, to lead us gently into the topic it might help if I briefly covered these 6 elements of food and wine pairing.

  • Fat Element – Wine doesn’t have a fat element so we try to balance the fatty foods with acid in the wine. Tannins will cut through the fat or alcohol will match any richness.
  • Acid Element – The perceived acid in a wine should at least equal to that of the food you’re pairing.
  • Salt Element – Salt can make oak taste weird, rip the fruit out of a red wine and make high alcohol wines taste bitter. Salty foods and sweet wines can work well together. Plus, sparkling wines are good with salty, fried foods.
  • Sweetness Element: There’s one rule you should adhere to. With desserts you must be certain that the wine tastes sweeter than the dessert. Also, beware of sweet chocolate and a dry red!
  • Bitterness Element: Bitterness in wine (some unripe grapes), combine with bitterness in foods.
  • Texture Element:  Think about light vs heavy. So light foods with light wines and heavy foods pair with heavy wines. This is a rule of thumb but an easy one to remember.

As usual, I always throw in a caveat to food and wine pairings – break the rules, if you like, and trust your palate.

A caveat to food and wine pairings – break the rules if you like and trust your palate - James O'Connor Click To Tweet

Some Popular Food and Wine Pairings

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Red Wine:

  • Pork Chops with Pinot Noir
  • Duck Breast with Red Burgundy
  • Lamb Shanks with Beaujolais
  • Spicy Grilled Shrimp Stew and Mencía (Spain)
  • Steak and cabernet Sauvignon

White Wine:

  • Mussels Provencal with Sauvignon Blanc
  • Asian dishes and Gewürztraminer
  • Pork Loin with Pinot Blanc
  • Crispy Artichokes with Soave (Italy)
  • Pesto Pasta and Vermentino
  • Chicken and Mushroom Paellas and Albariño

Rosé Wine:

  • Tomato Salad and Bandol Rosé
  • Vegetable Soup and Côtes de Provence
  • Bouillabaisse with a Spanish Rosé
  • Salmon with sparkling rosé
  • Charcuterie.
  • Other Seafood with dry rosé

Tips for Food and Wine Pairings – Salad

Image by Nicolae Baltatescu from Pixabay

Of course, there are many wines that pair well with salad, the popular ones being Pinot Gris, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. In addition, a Loire Valley Muscadet, or a Picpoul de Pinet from France are excellent choices.

And you cannot possibly go wrong with Gruner Veltliner with salad, because Gruner is a green, acidic wine with a white pepper palette that compliments vegetables perfectly.

Whichever wine you decide on, here are six tips for pairing wine with salad:

  • Think Green – Sauvignon Blanc = mowed grass, bell pepper, green apple or Pinot Grigio will have a crisp, floral, brightly herbaceous character.
  • Consider Protein – If pairing with fruity red wine (Beaujolais) you could add a hardboiled egg, or smoked fish, and cheese.
  • Different Approach – Grill bell peppers or roast garlic and then add to the salad
  • Use the Good Stuff – Opt for a high-quality balsamic vinaigrette or always use a top-notch extra-virgin olive oil (a wine’s best friend).
  • Be Careful – acidic tomatoes and dressings need high-acid wines, such as a Chardonnay from Burgundy; salty ingredients, e.g anchovies, need fruity wines, such as a Port, a Riesling, or a fruity Pinot Noir
  • Match Flavours – If you’re using a creamy dressing, an oaked wine with some creaminess to it will do. I recommend a big, buttery Chardonnay.

Tips for Wine and Food Pairings – BBQ

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Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

When summer arrives in Ireland, we’ll be spending more and more time outside, cooking on the grill, surrounded by family and friends (hopefully). Those intoxicating aromas from the grill will begin to fill the air, and we’ll be wondering what to pair with our smoky creations.

Most will agree that there are few things better than a barbecue in the sunshine with a delicious glass of wine. Choosing a good bottle for your BBQ wine can really elevate the occasion.

Of course, it’s unlikely that you’re going to purchase many types of wine and impose strict pairing regulations on the occasion, as I’m hinting at in this post.

So, instead here is a list of some good all-rounder wines that tick many of the boxes needed for a great barbecue. At a glance:

  • Steak – Malbec, Syrah/Shiraz
  • Burgers – Grenache blends (like Côtes du Rhône), Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel
  • Sausages – Tempranillo, Gamay, Pinot Noir
  • BBQ chicken – Warmer climate Chardonnay
  • Pork chops – Valpolicella, Barbera, Riesling, dry rosé
  • Sardines – Albariño, Picpoul de Pinet
  • Halloumi – Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Assyrtiko (Greece)
  • Veggie Skewers – Chenin Blanc (fresher styles), dry rosé, Gamay

Sparkling Wines

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Just a note on sparkling wines. Sparkling wines beat the heat and play well with almost any grilled food. Stick to the quaffable wines like Prosecco or Cava, or maybe a light-bodied California bubbly, and leave the vintage Champagne in the cellar.

The key to successful wine-food pairing for outdoor dining is simplicity. Don’t choose a wine that requires too much thought because the setting doesn’t call for that. The wines should fit the food, but they should also fit the casual mood of the gathering.

Have fun this summer, stay safe and enjoy your wine. If you would like to talk to any of the wine team here in Green Acres about summer wines wine, pop-in, call us, browse online or email me at james@greenacres.ie.

#staysafe – Talk Soon – James.

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