Food and wine matching can be a minefield – but as with many areas in life, there are pitfalls in trying too hard to find the right combination, just as there are when mixing anything where an objective point of view is difficult to find.
Many people pride themselves on their ability to find the right wine to suit every dish. While there are definitely matches which work far better than others, as how a combination works is down largely to individual taste, it can pay to go against the grain.
There is nothing to say that fish must be accompanied by a white wine, or equally that beef only works when combined with a red wine. One clear rule of thumb, though, is that spicy foods, or dishes with distinct tastes should not be served alongside wines which are too full-flavoured, as this will inhibit the complete taste sensations of the food. Equally, there is a complete category of sweeter wines which are designed to work as an accompaniment to desserts.
Supermarkets are becoming wiser to the phenomenon of food and wine matching, and are offering lots of information to help guide their customers through the maze of choices. Once the preserve of high-end restaurants, major store chains are now offered masses of information about their wine ranges which includes suggestions of the best foods to serve with them.
From once being an area shrouded in mystique, the wine industry has realised that it is in its own interest to lift the veil of secrecy which surrounds many of its products. Provenance is a word which is often bandied around in food circles, and many shoppers are taking it into serious consideration when choosing their purchases. But wine has been using a similar concept, of ‘terroir’ for a long time.
This simply means that the grape-growing areas of certain regions have soils with particular individual characteristics which make them suitable for producing a particular type of grape. It is a valuable yardstick which can often be used when deciding…