International wine experts give us their tips on how to achieve the perfect tipple pairing with your dishes – your guests will be impressed!
Earthy flavoured dishes made with mushrooms and truffles
Pair with earthy reds, like aged red. You want “similar flavours that can be found in both the food and wine”, says Eric Rao, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and French Wine Scholar (FWS) from Enoteca Co. Alternatively, winemaker Juanjo Pinol of Spain’s Celler Pinol suggests “a full-flavoured, oak-fermented white like the Celler Pinol L’Avi Arrufi White 2012 for a beautiful complement”.
Juicy red meats and roasts
Go for full-bodied reds. “A deep and lengthy wine with firm tannins and aromatic nuances, like the Quinta do Vale Meão Douro 2013, is perfect to cut the fatness of the meat,” says International Export Manager Pedro Lobo of wine estate Quinta do Vale Meao. Eric suggests medium- to high-tannin reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and Sagrantino. Juanjo adds, “The fats of red meat will be mopped up by the rich tannins of a good red wine, resulting in pleasant aftertaste.”
Fatty fish dishes like cod or salmon
Choose a wine with high acidity and aroma. “Young Pinot Noir, Rose, or high-acid whites, dry sparkling and Champagnes all work really well. You need the acidity from the wine to cut through the fats,” says Eric. Italian winemaker Federica Pecorari from Lis Neris suggests going for structure, depth and softness in your wine. “The charming aromatic notes of Lis Neris Confini 2009, a blend of Pinot Grigio, Traminer and Riesling, will enhance the strong aromas and texture of the fatty fish.”
Heavily-spiced or seasoned foods like Indian
A wine with great character is called for to match the heaviness in spiced dishes. Frederica suggests one with a balanced saltiness and creaminess, like the Lis Neris Lis 2009, a blend of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, could provide the perfect counterbalance. Likewise, “Off dry whites which are slightly sweet can balance spicy dishes, or try dry sparkling or a Champagne for the acid to cut through the spice so you can still taste the wine,” advises Eric.
Sweets like tarts and cakes
“Sweet wines like French wines from Sauternes, Port and late harvest wines are able to pair with sweets wonderfully,” says Eric. The general rule of thumb is the wine needs to be as sweet as the dessert. Juanjo suggests the late harvest Josefina Pinol Sweet White 2013 with its complex honeyed flavours of raisins and marzipan for tarts, apple pie, crème brulée, panna cotta and pudding. Chocolatey desserts will go better with a Sweet Red with core flavours of dates, coffee and cocoa.
Rich and cheesy dishes
Choose wines with a fruitinesss or sweetness to contrast the intensity of cheese flavours. Juanjo suggests big reds with character that has ripe silky tannins or a harmonious late harvest white Garnatxa like the Celler Pinol Josefina Pinol Sweet White 2013. A fruity character like vintage Port pairs beautifully with cheese dishes, says Pedro. He suggests going for the Quinta do Vale Meao Vintage Port 2013, which has “an extraordinary power to balance the saltiness of cheeses”.