In medieval times, wine was safer to drink than water. Wine’s alcohol content kept food-borne illnesses at bay and its sugar content added extra calories to diets - oh how "diets" have changed! Over time, greater quantity, quality and human appreciation of food and wine helped evolve these subsistence resources into leisure goods. Quality wine arrived! And it got real complicated real fast.
Humans can perceive 5 tastes - sweet, salty, bitter, spicy and umami - and 10,000 aromas. However, we each have different aroma perception thresholds and preferences, based on our nature (DNA) and nurture (where and what we grew up eating). Since the 80s, food engineers, molecular chefs, sommeliers, and trend-obsessed foodies have dove deep into exploring endless combinations of tastes, aromas and textures. This gastronomic revolution continues to change and sometimes confuse the way we think about food and wine. Today, pairing the two can seem daunting.
Not to fear, there are some tricks of the trade to help you out ... and remember the first pointer about food and wine pairing is that there is no perfect pairing. The second pointer which is arguably more important - drink what you like!
Now here are a few more wine and food pairing tips:
- Remember “what grows together, goes together.” Leitão (roast suckling pig) and red Baga wine are a classic pairing; both products come from the same region and Baga’s tannins and acidity perfectly cut through the meat’s fatty richness.
- Food can more easily overpower wine than vice versa, so choose a wine that is more acidic or sweet, for example, than the food; think sweet, spicy Ruby Port and a bitter chocolate tart.
- Pair like colors - a golden natas pastry with a Tawny Port.
- Pair like intensities - light, grilled dourada fish with young, crisp Alvariñho.
- Leverage contrasting flavors - sweet and slightly acidic Moscatel de Sétubal with salty, cured Azeitâo goat cheese or spicy, garlic prawns.
- To avoid the tannins in, say, a rich Alentejo red wine like the Apelido or a Napa cab, attacking the proteins in your saliva and creating that mouth drying effect, give them something more succulent and fatty to chew on, like a porco preto (black pork) chop or forest mushrooms if you are on the veggie train.
- Here are some veggies hard to pair with - the wine will thank you! Asparagus, its mercaptan content makes wine taste vegetal. Artichokes packed with cynarin, which creates fake sweet or bitter tastes.
Bom aproveite :)