Red with Meat, White with Fish?

Barbara wrote in saying she knows the old rules about red wine with meat and white with fish have been thrown out. But then, what should she go by? This two-minute video explores some options: 

I promised to flesh out the info in the video here on my blog. Here are a few points I didn’t have time to get to:

Flavor matching: This can be fun! If you’re serving a mushroom terrine, try serving it wine a wine that also has earthy flavors like Pinot Noir or Merlot. Or match the citrusy, herbaceous flavors of ceviche “cooked” in lime juice and served with tomato & cilantro salsa with the citrusy, grassy flavors of a Sauvignon Blanc.

I know I already said this in the video, but I want to drive home the fact that the preparation is often more important than the particular sort of protein in the dish. The cooking method, such as grilling vs. poaching, marinades and sauces can be better points of reference when you choose the wine than the meat, fish or chicken.  

Regarding red wine with meat: As mentioned before, matching big flavors makes sense and I’ll add that the marbling in red meats has a softening effect on the tannins in the wine. It’s just another reason that most of us love red wine with our steak.
One caveat: If the food with the big flavors is also hot and/or spicy you want to rethink the match. The heat in the foot accentuates the heat of the substantial alcohol found in most full-bodied reds so if you pair big with big/hot, you start to feel like a fire breathing dragon. Try pairing that spicy food with a low-alcohol white or rosé. And, believe it or not, a bit of sweetness helps to put out the fire.

Red wine with fish: I love grilled salmon and Pinot Noir. It’s one of my favorite combos. But, sometimes fish paired with red wine creates an unpleasant metallic flavor in your mouth. When that happens, fall back on the old salt and lemon juice trick. It usually really works!

Careful of tart foods: For instance, salad dressed in vinaigrette, can be tricky with wine. If the food is higher in acid than the wine, the wine tastes flat. So, you can either select a high-acid wine – sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling – or you can soften the acidity in the food by using a judicious amount of a soft acid such as Meyer lemon or lime juice. Balsamic vinegar is a possibility, but careful of the sweetness.  

The most important thing to remember is that wine is made to go with food and most combinations are pretty tasty. Some, more than others, of course, but that’s completely personal and subjective. So have fun and experiment! Cheers!

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