Harmonisation is the search for the perfect balance between wine and food. For most people, this combination is still a mystery, and doubts are common. The harmonisation goes far beyond the simple combination of fish with white wine and red meat with red wine, a maxim so repeated by people.
Moreover, other factors need to be considered, such as the place of the meal, the time of day, or the purpose. There are, however, some basic rules that can be a starting point for you to make the right choice and please your guests. Below are some of the tips to combine wine and food to get a perfect taste.
Medium Dry Wine Together With Spicy Dishes
Wines that have a certain degree of sugar go well with spicy foods. The sugar in the wine helps to reduce the effect of the pepper, which highlights the other flavours present in the dish. But be careful: don’t abuse the pepper, which will cause the wine’s flavour to be overshadowed. Not even sweet wine, which will make harmonisation be lost.
Wines With Good Acidity Together With Acid Dishes
The balance of the acidity of the food with the acidity of the wine allows the flavours of both to stand out, revealing the essence of the ingredients contained in the dish. The same principle applies to the combination of wines with good acidity and bitter dishes.
Low Alcohol Wines Together With Salt And Pepper
When accompanied by a spicy or very salty menu, wines with high alcohol content enhance the effect of the drink, impairing the harmonisation. Thus, in these cases, it is always better to prefer wines with a low alcohol content to accompany the dish.
Tannic Wines Together With Red Meat
Tannin is a substance present in the skin and seeds of the red grape, which brings a sense of astringency to the palate. Red meats with sharp flavour, such as ribs, are the ideal pairing for very tannic wines. Delicate meats, like filet mignon, go better with lighter red wines. Red wines, in general, go well together with a barbecue or a plate of grilled meat.
Sweet Wines Together With Desserts
The caution here is to avoid serving a dessert that is sweeter than wine. A classic combination that always works is port wine accompanied by chocolate-based desserts. The traditional combination of cake with champagne or other types of sparkling wines, so common at parties, is something that violates this rule, but that tradition allows.
If you do not want to stop serving a glass of sparkling wine with your wedding cake, give preference to those with good sugar content (sweet or half sweet).
Combination By Contrast
In line with the “opposites that attract” rule, surprisingly pleasant results can be obtained by combining foods and wines with contrasting flavours. This is particularly indicated in the case of foods with strong flavours, to be attenuated with the right wine.
A particularly fatty dish, for example, goes perfectly with a savoury red wine which, by contrasting the greasiness of the food, cleans the mouth. On the contrary, dishes with a more delicate taste, such as boiled fish, should instead be enlivened with dry white wines.
Matching By Concordance
Generally, the wine must be proportional to the dish served. This means that it is advisable, for example, to accompany a very aromatic food with an equally aromatic wine and vice versa—food with delicate aromas with a wine with light aromas.
The same principle must be applied to balance the robustness of food: a rather complex and structured dish ideally requires a full-bodied, structured, and long-lasting wine. Finally, matching by concordance is recommended to harmonise the sweetness of foods.
You must bear in mind that the selected food and the wine have to be in balance so that you can feel the sensations that both provoke on your palate. They have to compensate for each other.
In the case of food served, you will look at its intensity of flavour, smell, or the ability to digest it to define its characteristics. In the case of wine, its characteristics will be marked by its aroma, flavour, and even the temperature at which you serve it.