Wine and food matching is the process of pairing food dishes with wine to enhance the ultimate dining experience.
In many cultures, wine has had a long history of being a staple at the dinner table and in some ways both the winemakingand culinary traditions of a region will have evolved together over the years. Rather than following a set of rules, local cuisines were paired simply with local wines. The modern “art” of food pairings is a relatively recent phenomenon, fostering an industry of books and media with guidelines for pairings of particular foods and wine. In the restaurant industry, sommeliers are often present to make food pairing recommendations for the guest.
The main concept behind pairings is that certain elements (such as texture and flavor) in both food and wine interact with each other, and thus finding the right combination of these elements will make the dining experience more enjoyable.
However, taste and enjoyment are very subjective and what may be a “textbook perfect” pairing for one taster could be less enjoyable to another.While there are many books, magazines and websites with detailed guidelines on how to pair food and wine, most food and wine experts believe that the most basic element of food and wine pairing is understanding the balance between the “weight” of the food and the weight (or body) of the wine. Heavy, robust wines like Cabernet Sauvignon can overwhelm a light, delicate dish like a quiche, while light-bodied wines like Pinot Grigio would be similarly overwhelmed by a hearty stew. Flavors and textures can either be contrasted or complemented.
Wine has had a long history of being served as an accompaniment to food. The early history of wine has it origins as another dietary staple and a beverage that was often more sanitary than the local water supply. There is little evidence that much serious thought was given to pairing particular dishes to particular wines with likely whatever wine was available being used. As culinary traditions in a region developed, so too did local winemaking tradition.
Many pairings that are considered “classics” today emerged from the centuries-old relationship between a region’s cuisine and their wines.
In Europe, lamb was a staple meat of the diet for many areas that today are leading wine regions. The red wines of regions such as Bordeaux, Greece, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rhone and Provence are considered classic pairings with the lamb dishes found in the local cuisines of those regions. In Italy, the intimate connection between food and wine is deeply embedded in the culture and is exemplified by the country’s wine. Historically, Italians rarely dined without wine and a region’s wine was crafted to be “food friendly”, often with bright acidity. While some Italian wines may seem tannic, lean or tart by themselves they often will show a very different profile when paired with boldly flavored Italian foods.