One of the great pleasures of the table is to pair food and wine. The wine complements and highlights the food, doubling the taste and sensation of both.
Pairing your favorite wine with food is a fun thing any time of year, but it can be particularly nice as the weather turns cold and everyone’s thoughts turn to holidays. Wine and food pairings make meals both cozy and festive. A crackling fire will reflect light in your wine glass and the aromas of savory food both comfort and delight you.
Perhaps you’ve heard the standard advice of red meat/red wine and white meat/white wine? It’s been a standard rule in food/wine pairings because red wine has more tannins, which go well with rich food or dishes high in animal fats, such as beef or lamb. White wine is higher in acidity, so it goes well with chicken and fish dishes, much like lemon juice goes well on the dishes themselves.
However, the more modern way to pair is to factor in type of cuisine and preparation style as much as the type of meat used. Food and wine are all about highlighting and complementing each other.
What are the best dishes to go with your favorite glass of wine? Here are eight suggestions.
Grilled Steak and Malbec
Although France and California are associated with wine country, excellent wine is found in many parts of the world. Give South America a taste with Malbec, Argentine’s classic red wine, and a finely grilled steak. Malbec is surging in popularity worldwide, and this pairing will make you understand why.
Coq au Vin and Cabernet Sauvignon
Coq au vin is a wonderful dish for a winter’s night because of its savor and complexity. It’s slow roasted chicken with wine and an array of vegetables and spices, including fresh mushrooms and French kitchen favorites like bay. French Cabernet Sauvignon is a hearty wine for a hearty dish. It’s also a classic, so if you’re fairly new to wine pairings, it’s a great one to start with. This illustrates the principle of hearty savory food/hearty savory wine.
Lobster Mac and Cheese and Pinot Grigio
This combination provides the best of two classic pairing worlds: white meat/white wine and cheese/white wine! It makes a superb meal. Lobster mac and cheese by itself pairs lobster’s elegance and mac and cheese’s cozy comfort. Pinot Grigio, one of the most popular wines of the last decade, combines elegance and comfort as well.
Spinach Beetroot Salad and Chardonnay
As winter draws on, warm salads take center stage. Roasted beetroot tossed with vinaigrette in a spinach salad is both hearty and healthy, bringing out highlights in both vegetables. Pair the salad with crusty artisanal bread. Chardonnay is a classic white wine that and goes well with light dishes and can be counted on to give a lift to any meal.
Roast Duck and Rose Wine
Roast duck can be an elegant centerpiece for any meal. It’s particularly attractive as an alternative to turkey or ham at holiday meals. And rose? Well, because rose falls right in the middle of the red/white wine spectrum, it’s often overlooked, both at home and in restaurants. Roses are wonderful wines, and shine as complements to entrée meals.
Tandoori Cornish Hens and Sparkling Wine
Cornish hens are wonderful winter meals, and Tandoori gives it savory interest. Sparkling wines are sometimes relegated to the dessert wines category, but in fact the light, bright taste highlights roasted meats. Sparkling wines are made of classic white wines. Pinot Noir fan? Look for sparkling blanc de noirs. Blanc de blancs are Chardonnay, and bruts are blends.
Caramel Flan and Tawny Port
Caramel flan is a wonderful swirl of vanilla, milk and caramel flavors. Tawny port, with its caramel and raisin-like highlights, is a superb complement. Port is a red wine, but because it is sweet, is most often enjoyed as a dessert wine. Tawny port is an aged style of port. This is a great dessert pairing that will lead to long conversations over the dinner table.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Champagne
This is a classic pairing to roll out for a holiday meal. Champagne, of course, says “festive” just by being uncorked! Try a French variety for full-bodied flavor. The bright sweet taste of strawberries combined with the rich sweet of chocolate is irresistible, especially when the tart taste of champagne blends on the palate. Chocolate dipped strawberries are easy to make, so this favorite can be enjoyed all winter long.
Hungry yet? While these dishes and wines are excellent pairings, feel free to mix and match to fully enjoy all the complementary flavors. There’s no reason your Malbec can’t go with the Tandoori hens, or tawny port be served with the joy of strawberries and chocolate. These meals and wines can be enjoyed all winter long.