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Wine Tasting 101: Wine-Food Pairing

Part 2: Wine -Food Pairing

In the previous post I discussed how wine glasses are uniquely shaped to alter the wine’s taste and aroma, therefore, changing our experience and even our enjoyment with the wine.  If you haven’t read the article, you can read it here. It is definitely an informative post for those who want to learn more about wine and for those who enjoy wine.

For those of you who love to entertain, this post is  for you!  I will discuss wine and food pairings. When wine is paired with the proper food, it adds a whole new dimension to our experience of enjoying wine.

In the past, I have always thought the general rule to pairing food with wine was to match the color of the wine to that of the food.  For example, I thought red wine goes with red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and white wine goes well with white meat (chicken, fish and shellfish). Simple and easy? Well, I mentioned before that there are a lot of complexity with wine.  To gain harmony with your food and wine pairing, you actually want to match the acidity, sweetness and strength of flavor of the wine to the food. For a rich full bodied wine you want to pair it with rich food.  Sweet wines pairs well with sweet and spicy food. And interestingly, salty food pairs well with sweet and acidic wine. 

If you recall, in the last post, we looked at 4 different wines made by Pacific Breeze Urban Winery in New Westminster, BC. They are the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. I have included links to Pacific Breeze catalog for those who may be interested in purchasing their wines. 

The one thing that stands out for me in regards to Sauvignon Blanc is its freshness.  When I took a sip of this wine, the first thing I said was “It’s so refreshing!”.  It has aromas of cut grass, mingled with melon, citrus and apple. Sauvignon Blanc has high level of acidity pairing well with equally acidic food such as citrus and tomato based dishes or even salad with light vinaigrette dressing. The acidity in the wine also goes well with fried foods. For our evening, we were served lemon breaded chicken with a salad containing rocket greens, shaved fennel and orange wedges.  Truly refreshing!

Chardonnay is known as one of France’s great white wines.  There is a difference in Chardonnay that has been oaked and unoaked.  When Chardonnay has been oaked, the oak is able to impart  flavors of buttery and/or creamy caramel, vanilla, toast and spice; as well, it gives a richer color to the wine. Unoaked varieties will have a more fresh fruit flavor.  Some of the fruit aroma can range from citrus and stone fruits (peaches, cherries and plums) to tropical fruits (pineapple). Oaked Chardonnay also have a richer and fuller appearance than those of unoaked Chardonnay. At Pacific Breeze we tried an oaked Chardonnay style which had a hint of butterscotch. Due to its rich and buttery flavor it was paired with Risotto with petite pois and parmesan cheese.

Pinot Noir is the most food friendly of the wines because it is able to complement with the widest variety of food. The body and color of Pinot Noir is lighter than the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is light but still have complexity in its flavor. It has moderate level of tannin pairing it well with richer meats such as lamb and duck. But the tannin is also soft enough to go with white meats such as salmon and chicken. It  has an earthy flavor pairing well with fruits and vegetable such as mushrooms and figs. On the nose you can smell aroma of berries with earthy tones of mushroom and leather. This wine has not yet been released by Pacific Breeze, but it is wonderful! We tested our palate with goat cheese and Prosciutto wrapped figs.

The last wine on our list is the Cabernet Sauvignon, a widely recognized red wine grape variety. It is a wine that is commonly blended with other varieties of wine, such as the Merlot and the Cabernet Franc, to make the Bordeaux blends.  The craft of Bordeaux blends is what gives Cabernet Sauvignon it long after taste flavor, which Myrna and Maurice call the “football flavor” ( I will discuss this in the next post).  It is a wine high in tannin and acidity.  The oak will soften the tannin and impart flavors of vanilla, mocha and spice.   There are aromas of dark fruits, such as berries and plum. Due to the boldness of the wine and the richness in tannin, it is paired well with heavier and fattier meats, such as lamb or steak, as the fat and protein content will neutralize the tannin. Recall in the last post, Cabernet Sauvignon is also high in alcohol therefore does not pair well with spicy foods.   We were served with braised short ribs with roasted rosemary potatoes and coleslaw with pears and apples along with Pacific Breeze’s best seller, Killer Cab. Delicious! 

There is so much information to cover with wine and food pairing it’s hard to cover all aspects. But I hope this post will encourage you to excite your palette with food and wine pairing, and discover fun ways to accentuate your dish with wine.

Before I go, I have to give credit to Lisa Russell for these wonderful photos of the wine and food. Thank you for allowing me to use them on my blog. I am very grateful! Big thank you to Myrna for hosting such a wonderful night and opening my eyes to the world of wines.  Thanks to Maurice for being so accommodating with my questions on wine and opening your place so that we can have a fun night of wine tasting.






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