How to Pair Food with Wine ft. Flora Springs

  1. Flora Springs Red Blend (c/o) | Pizza Paddle | Marble Wine Cooler | Reidel Pinot Noir Glasses | Large Slate | Mini Cheese Slate | Gold Candle Holder | Mark and Graham Vase | Wine opener | Pia Tap Pizza

Happy weekend, friends! Did you see the tee I posted on Instagram? I feel like it ties in perfectly to this post! The other day, a co-worker of mine randomly asked "what do you eat with wine?" to our portion of the office (Hi Meghan ;) ) and I was like "what do you mean...?!" Obviously you have your cheese boards and such but what do you really pair with it?! I guess I've never had to think of it that way, because Nick always poses the question "which wine do you want to have?" vs "can I pair wine with this?". Here are are some easy tips and basic principles to help you on your selections!

First off, let's name our wine categories. While they are vastly different and in reality have a lot of sections, let's break it down to 5 basic categories.

  1. Medium and Bold Reds - Honestly, these belong in 2 different categories, but if I talked about each category, you'd be reading this all night! They are close, so you can't go wrong grouping them together. Bold reds usually have a very expressive tannic structure. If you are like WHAT THE HECK IS TANNIC, it is a derivative of the word tannin and can be found in grape skins and seeds. Tannins make your mouth feel dry and have that almost alcohol  taste to them - think of a Cab or well balanced Merlot. Still trying to identify bold reds in your life? Think of Malbec, Cab Sauv, and Bordeaux blends. Medium Reds are similar, but typically with less body and more fruit. Examples include Merlot, Zin, and Barbera. 
  2. Rosés and Light Reds - Light reds are exactly what they sound like...light bodied reds. They are typically fruit forward with a refreshing finish. Examples include Pinot Noir (my fave!!) and Grenache. A Rosé is actually made with red grapes,  but the skins are not left on as long as a typical red resulting in a pinkish hue, instead of deep red. Rosés have the same crisp finish as a light red, but have a much lighter body and only subtle fruit flavors. No examples here, because Rosé can be made out of any red grape.
  3. Whites - White are made the same way as reds; however, the skins are removed. Since most grapes have a white, juicy interior, this creates white wine, instead of red. Whites can also range from sweet to dry and exhibit various bodies. You've got Chardonnay and Sauv Blanc on the dry side, with Moscato and Riesling on the sweet side.
  4. Sparkling - Sparkling wines are made quite differently than the rest of the wines. Here fermentation happens inside of the bottle, instead of before botteling. What does that mean to you? This makes the BUBBLY! They can range from very dry (brut) to very sweet (doux). To learn more about champagne vs sparkeling wine see my blog post here.
  5. Sweet and Dessert - These wines have a wide variety of production methods. Some sweet wines are made by picking frozen grapes or grapes that are extra ripe and some dessert wines are fortified with brandy or liqueur. Examples here are Port, Sherry, Ice wine, and Late Harvest Wine.

On to the next thing...there are three different ways to pair wine with food. You're not required to abide by them; however, if you are a newbie, you might consider these guidelines to aide you in this process! In fact, many pros use these same methods.

  1. Single Ingredient Pairing: This is your most basic and probably easiest pairing. That doesn't mean it is bad, it just the most straight forward...in fact, you have probably heard of some of these! You know, medium and bold reds go with red meat, light and medium reds go with red fish, whereas whites goes with white fish and pasta. You can also use this method to highlight a specific ingredient, as long as it is already prominent in the dish. If you make a killer marinara sauce and you're pairing it with pasta, pair the tomato in the marinara with a Grenache or Malbec. On the white side, if you have a lamb or pork chop with heavy seasoning like Oregano or Thyme, shelf the red in favor of a Sauv Blanc to highlight the herbs. There's nothing wrong with making substitutions like this. It simply allows you to be creative and highlight specific flavors.
  2. Multi Ingredient Pairing: This method is great for a dish that has many ingredients or many sides to accompany a main course. Here, you want to think about all the ingredients on the plate, and choose the wine that will pair with most of them. Think of a venn diagram - If you're making shrimp curry with grits, the shrimp will pair with a light red or a white, the grits will pair with a dry white or medium red, and the curry will pair with a creamy white or medium red. Using this method with this dish, we would probably pick a light or medium red, as this is the closest to the center of the venn diagram we could get. This pairing will not only accentuate the dish, but will help to marry all the flavors of the dish and ultimately enhance the experience of the meal.
  3. Opposition Pairing: This is where we get to have fun!  Opposition pairing is choosing the wine that wouldn't typically go with the meal...not to specifically be a rebel, but to highlight pieces of the entree that wouldn't otherwise be accentuated. For example, King Salmon is a red fish that is very oily and dense and typically would call for a medium to bold red. If you are serving the fish with white wine beurre blanc (fancy for white wine-butter sauce), pair it with a dry Chardonnay or a white Bordeaux blend to focus attention on the sauce. You aren't doing anything wrong here, you are simply directing the dinner's attention to a specific area.

Ultimately, as long as you put thought into your selection, you can't go wrong! There is no specific science, just fun guidelines! Never underestimate the power of a really cool pairing!

Have any tips or tricks that you use? Send them my way! Always looking for more ways to easily pair mu favorite things together...wine and food! I wrote this post with the Dallas Wine Club. Check them out for more fun wine info!

This post features wine from Flora Springs! I have talked about them before and genuinely like their wine. Last  month they celebrated their 40th anniversary in Napa. The wine featured here is their Trilogy - a Cab Sauv based wine, that includes smaller amounts of red Bordeaux varieties. This vintage launches on February 4th. If you can't be at their 15th annual release party, try a bottle of their sweet nectar. You won't regret it! They celebrated their 30th vintage of this wine in 2014...can you say well worth the $80?! Would be a perfect gift...V-day gift at that!

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