Six Holiday Dinner Wine Pairing Tips
I was thinking of writing a wine and food pairing post just before Xmas, and then I came across this from Betty Kaufman who has her own blog( http://www.bettyswinemusings.com). After reading this I quickly concluded it would be hard to improve on something already pretty good, so as gratitude for her efforts I’ll share her thoughts with you here.
So, it’s Xmas day and the “table is set. You’re excited to have friends and family over for the Xmas lunch/dinner. Or perhaps you are an invited guest and you’d like to bring a bottle of wine for your hosts. Whatever the reason, choosing a beautiful bottle of wine for one of the most anticipated meals of the year can be daunting. When choosing a lovely Xmas meal wine, what’s a wine lover to do?
If you want to bring an impressive gift wine, you might be tempted to select a highly rated, gold-medal wine. Wine expert Steve Heimoff points out that this might not be the best way to go. According to Heimhoff, if you choose a wine that drinks almost like a separate dish (he calls it “a separate food group”) due to its complexity and richness, you run the risk of having it overpower just about everything it’s paired with. When you consider there might be peas, sprouts, yams, gravy…that’s a lot of lottery combinations. While a huge, highly rated Cabernet goes great with a juicy steak, not much else will really stand up to it.
Betty has coined the term “WAISTS”, which has been adapted from Berry Bro’s and Rudd
W is for Weight. Match heavy-to-heavy, rich-to-rich. Full-bodied wines go with full-bodied foods. Likewise, light foods drink well with lighter wine. Have a sparkling wine with light appetizers, for example.
A is for Acidity. Match a high acidity wine to a more fatty food. Think lemon wedges squeezed over fatty salmon.
I is for Intensity. Flavor intensity, that is, which is different from weight. Asparagus and Brussel sprouts, for example, are high flavor foods, especially if accompanied with sauce. You’ll want to go with a similar weight and flavor of wine like a Sauvignon Blanc.
S is for Sweetness. The rule of thumb is to serve a wine that is sweeter than the food. This is almost like the “I” tip (intensity), but more specific to sweetness. A sweeter Riesling or Sauternes with duck pâté, for example.
T is for Texture. This is similar to the “W” tip (weight), but specifically for texture. Think chewiness, or fat content. The denser and fattier a food, the more tannins the wine should have.
S, the second one, is for Salt. Tannins in wine don’t mix well with salt. The first step is not to over-salt any dish, and put the salt and pepper shakers on the table. Don’t serve a red wine with herring fillets or a Caesar salad course.
Hope Xmas is a pleasant and safe experience this 2014.