A traditional vs. non-traditional approach to wine and food pairing
All of us who drink wine have learned the traditional standards to pairing wine with food. White wine with fish and white meats and red wine with red meats. These easy rules will always guarantee you a great meal with a well matched wine. However, if you want to take the traditional approach to the next level of pairing, it gets much more complex.
Think of the aromas and flavours in your wine being associated with a colour of fruit. Green, yellow, red or black fruit. If any of those fruit components in your wine have a strong presence in your meal, then it would make sense to compliment that with your wine selection. For example, compliment a chicken dish in a light marinara sauce with a nice light red wine like pinot noir or gamay; a chicken dish topped in a yellow tomato puree with a chardonnay or Viognier.
In other words the colour of all the foods on the plates are important in a more traditional wine pairing. It’s less about the meats and more about the colour of the vegetables on the plate and sauces on the meat.
Complimenting or contrasting food and wine is another easy way to pair wine with your meal. Decide what the function of the wine is to be at your meal. Is it meant to enhance the meal by providing similar flavours and weight, or is it meant to highlight the food by contrasting the flavours and textures?
An example of complimenting would be to pair a light fish like sole in a light citrus butter sauce with a nice light, fruity Chenin blanc. To contrast this dish you may pick a rich, buttery chardonnay with a good acidity to cut through the richness of the sauce. Both would work perfectly!
In the end, all of these "rules" are good guidelines, but I always tell people to drink whatever they want with whatever they want to eat. As long as the food is good and the wine doesn’t run out, you are insured to have a successful dinner party! Saluti!