Whether you’re catering a classy corporate event or putting together ideas for a wedding menu, you will probably need to think about a drinks menu as well. For lunch and evening events, wine is a popular choice and there is wide range to choose from.
Food fundies will point to the importance of pairing your selected dishes with the ‘right’ wines. The reason? The right wine can enhance the flavours in your food, making your meal even more pleasurable.
While there are no strict rules on which wines to pair with which foods, there are a number of industry guidelines. And there’s nothing to stop you from making your own food/wine combinations based on your personal preferences. However, it is important to note that certain wines can have an adverse reaction on the taste of the food and vice-versa, so best to try out your selections before presenting them to your guests.
If you’re unsure about which wines pair well with which meals, you can follow these basic guidelines:
1. Follow the region: Regional pairings are a popular and easy way to get the right combinations. Try Italian wines with Italian foods, French wines with French foods, South African wines with South African foods etc. This is not always a fail-safe solution but is often a good one.
2. Acid with acid: High acid wines, such as Chianti or Sauvignon Blanc will help bring out the citrus notes of lemony, acidic foods such as tomato based pastas. Serving fish? Try a grassy Chardonnay.
3. Balance bitter with fat: The tannins in a wine give its bitter flavour. You can balance that flavour with fat – this will soften the tannins, resulting in a smoother taste. For example, serve a heavy Cabernet with a meaty fillet.
4. Sweet and sweeter: Sweet wines will intensify the flavour of your desserts. Think after-dinner port with a rich chocolate pudding or Muscato with poached pears.
Want to delve in a little deeper. Take a look at this free pairing guide from Wine Folly.
Pairing food and wine can be fun but it can also be overwhelming if your menu is complicated and your wine knowledge is scanty.