Have you ever noticed that your favourite Old World wines and the dishes that are completed perfectly by their flavour tend to originate from the same region in Europe? Think of Rioja and the flavoured cuisine of Northern Spain or the unrivalled combination of Muscadet with fresh seafood. Although an interesting observation and clearly not an illogical tendency, this is by no means an instruction for your food and wine consumption or combining the two. The idea behind matching dishes and wines is simply to find the flavours that would complete rather than challenge each other, thus contributing to an improved dining experience.
Even though there are no strict rules for combining your food with wine, there are some guidelines that generally make the task significantly easier. To begin with, you will undoubtedly enjoy your meal more if you opt for the wine you truly like, no matter how well it goes with your choice of food. More importantly, you should aim to achieve the balance between the power of your food flavours and your wine scents: lighter wines usually combine better with lighter cuisines. Yet another factor to consider is the distinguishing characteristics of your preferred cuisine. Thus, dishes served in fruity sauce go well with wines that are just as fruity, while distinctly salty meals can be balanced by wines that are slightly sweet. Finally, if you are enjoying a traditionally prepared dish you might want to complement it with an equally traditional wine like Rioja, Claret, or any of their Old World relatives. The taste of rich and spicy cuisines of the New World, on the other hand, gets brought out more fully by bold palate of Australian or South African wines.
Given how rich the variety of wines is nowadays, it may seem hard to believe that it still doesn’t offer good matches for certain types of food. Can you remember last time you had wine with asparagus or eggs? You probably can’t – and there is a reason for that. There are products and spices that simply don’t go with the divine drink. Vinegar is another one; if you’ve used too much of it in your dish try to avoid wine at dinner by all means, otherwise you will not really enjoy either. Interestingly enough, excessively spicy food does not make a good match to wine either, even though nothing goes better with a mildly spicy dish than a glass of rich red. If you are a big fan of chilli and curry we would recommend stuffing your fridge with beer instead.