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Learn to pair wines with meals

Learn basic rules to harmonize different types of food with this drink

There is a solitary, almost secret pleasure in choosing wines for dinner. And in choosing the order of
dishes to value them – and, at the same time, also be valued… The first question is: is the bottle to be consumed right away, at dinner or on the weekend, or to mature, age, store in the cellar? After all, the best way to enjoy a wine at its perfect height of maturity is to create it yourself, or “educate” it, as the French say…

We are going to see here, initially, the most usual choice of a type of wine, the one for immediate consumption and, shortly, we are going to see how to select a wine so that it evolves well in the cellar. It is not necessary to pay a lot of money for a wine to take high quality products. Be bold, experiment, evaluate for yourself and form your own repertoire of good labels and producers.

Wines recommended for dinners and receptions

In general, unless it is a very rare and special bottle, it is the wine that should accompany the food, not the other way around. A neat and more or less sophisticated dinner can favor the consumption of at least four types of wine among guests. For the reception, the appetizers (hors d’oeuvres), nothing better than a dry sparkling wine, preferably of the Brut or Nature types, which contain less sugar and have a more relevant acidity.

The sparkling wines, of which the most famous and refined are the champagnes, are made in all the wine regions of the world, being well known the Italian Prosecco, the Spanish Cava, the Sekt
Germans and so on. Brazilian sparkling wines are highly regarded and have a very high average quality standard: a great option in terms of value.

Wine options to serve with snacks

Dry sparkling wines are also very versatile in accompanying food and have the virtue of awakening the appetite, as opposed to dulling it. By the way, aperitif foods are necessarily light and not heavy and unctuous: prefer vegetables, preserves in salt and vinegar and light snacks that have a strong flavor, to stimulate the appetite, and not satiate it, as is often the case with bread and cheese, for example…

Cheeses, by the way, are the perfect key to end a meal, not to open it… The possibilities are endless pairing cheeses with wines, but the saltier ones call for sweet wines, like Sauternes and Porto; the most acidic, such as goat and fresh wines, call for white wines; and, finally, those with boiled and yellow pasta go best with red wines.

Foods that change the taste of wines

To talk about harmony between dishes and wines, it is always necessary to mention the enemies of wine. There are few, thank goodness!

The most sensitive element of pairing is tannin: it does not go well with salty preparations, as well as food preserved in salt. There is a reaction that causes a metallic taste when a wine full of tannins meets a food that is very obviously salty.

It is the same type of reaction that occurs when tannins come into contact with iodine, present in many fish and seafood, especially raw oysters and fish with darker meat, precisely those that are most beneficial to health, the most rich in omega 3, the only animal fat that is good for the cardiovascular system.

Vinegar and Hot Sauce sabotage the presence of wines

It is also worth mentioning vinegar, which he hates both reds and whites (whites, in general, and rosé ones have very little tannin). Thus, vinaigrette sauces and vinegar preserves, usually vegetables such as cucumbers and pickles, sabotage the presence of wines. The intensity of pepper in sauces also overshadows the delicacy of many of the beverage’s aromas and flavors, so it should be avoided.

Jambu, a spice from the north of the country, softens the taste buds and is, obviously, a great enemy of a delicate good wine tasting.

artichoke and asparagus interfere with wines

Among vegetables, artichokes are often cited, which have the bitterness of cynarin, its active substance, and interfere with wines; and asparagus, which also bring a bitter sensation to the drink.

White wine is recommended for consumption with pasta (Image: Shutterstock)

wines to accompany dinners

In a European-style meal, after the starters, the first course is served, often consisting of a light carbohydrate base with an intense flavor element. This category includes risottos and fresh or dry pasta, with sauces of all colors, the Italian preference. Giblets pâtés, terrines, seafood (especially cold) and even fried foods are excellent options for first courses.

Pasta and other carbohydrate dishes, such as rice (risotto), potatoes and sweet potatoes, chickpeas, bread, etc. they are always very friendly and great companions for any type of wine. Don’t worry about the starches when blending, just the sauces and spices that go with it.

To accompany the first courses, choose a good dry white wine, with a pungent acidity, able not only to enliven the flavor of the food, but also to keep diners interested in the next steps of the meal. There is no specific rule, but there are traditional combinations, fixed by time and by cultural roots for the choice of this dry white. A good white Vinho Verde, Rueda, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin or Viognier can be the perfect choice, among many other possibilities.

Harmonization from the main course

And our dinner came to the main course, which is most often – with the exception of vegetarian tables – a protein preparation with an intense flavor, made of meat, poultry or fish. The meats (pork and wild boar, beef, kid or lamb) are generally grilled, roasted or cooked for a long time, with sauces from the
roti type, dark and caramelized. For them, reds of different shades and textures.

Red wines pair well with meats with sauces.

A truly simple but functional rule is: the denser and more buttery the meat, the thicker its sauce and intense its flavor, the deeper, denser and darker the wine must be to accompany it… Both the roasted flavor of the meat grilled and caramelised in deglazed sauces call for the oxidative note of more aged red wines, with some maturation. The Barolo, the Barbaresco, the Brunello de Montalcino, the classy Bordeaux, the great Syrah are lined up there.

For birds, especially those considered “game”, such as duck, partridge, quail and pheasant, choose medium-bodied reds with less tannic content, such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Beaujolais (Gamay) etc.
Mostly white meat poultry, such as turkey and chicken, goes very well with larger-bodied whites, such as aged Chardonnay, as well as rosé wines.

Fish goes well with white wine

Fish accept all types of whites very well, but the preparation has a great influence on the pairing, such as the type of sauce, for example. In general, go for dry whites with good acidity and aromatic intensity. The biggest problem creator in pairing is the tannin of the red wines more structured: it does not go well with salt or iodine, elements often present in fish and seafood.

wines for dessert

A very pleasant surprise is to serve a dessert wine at the end of the meal, accompanying sweets, savory cheeses or simply as a soloist. Late harvest whites (late harvest or tardive vendetta) are a sure shot, but neither does anyone who opts for a sweet fortified product, such as Port Wine or Moscatel de Setúbal.

By Revista Vinho Magazine

Source: Maxima

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