You have chosen the perfect location for your wedding reception, you love the views, the staff is extraordinary, the menu tasting went perfectly. All that remains to be chosen is the wine your guests will enjoy throughout the night. Sounds easy enough right? So you pick a few varieties of wine that you like. A red and a white perhaps, and then you can call it good? Not according to Food and Wine’s expert pairing advice from Ray Aisle (appropriate name, isn’t it?). Ray writes “I find that in the vast majority of pairings, the wine and the food don’t affect each other much; they coexist peacefully, if unexcitingly. In a modest percentage of matches, the wine and the food accentuate the flavors in one another, and both taste better as a result; however, an equal percentage, I’d say, are the reverse…”
If you really face the prospect of choosing wine that will have an adverse effect on the flavor of the food you have painstakingly chosen, a modest percent of the time, then perhaps a bit more thought should go into the process. I have complied a few pairing notes from kj.com and Food & Wine to help you determine the best course to take. Hopefully, this will help you when making your selections. I might also suggest that you insist on tasting the wines you have chosen with the food you have chosen so as not to fall into that unsatisfactory pairing percentage.
- Choose Similar Flavors
- Similar food and wine flavors complement each other.
- Example: Sole with lemon sauce and Sauvignon Blanc both have citrus flavors.
- Choose Similar Weight and Texture
- Similarly weighted food and wine complement each other. Food and wine can be light, medium or heavy-bodied.
- Example: Lobster and Chardonnay are both medium-weight and rich so they complement each other.
- Choose the Same Sweetness Level
- Wine should be equal to or higher in sugar than the dish.
- Example: Roasted pork with apple glaze pairs beautifully with Riesling.
- Salt Needs Crispness
- Crisp wines balance salty flavors.
- Example: A crisp Sauvignon Blanc balances salty olives and feta cheese.
- Pair with the Sauce
- Pair the wine to the sauce served.
- Example: Light citrus sauces pair with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
- Example: Heavy cream and mushroom sauces are ideal with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
- Example: Red and meat sauces match Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah.
- No Sauce? Pair with the Meat
- Match wine to meat, fish or poultry when serving without a sauce.
- Example: Pinot Noir tastes great with duck
- Spicy Foods
- Sweeter wines offer relief from spicy foods.
- Example: Riesling pairs well with Asian cuisines.
- Tannins Need Fat to Balance Out
- Tannic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon cut through the coating that fat leaves in the mouth.
- Example: Cabernet pairs great with steak.
- Look: Pair by Color
- Nature has color-coded fruit and vegetables with the wine best suited to their flavors.
- Light wines – light foods; deeply colored wines – rich foods. Example: Sauvignon Blanc is pale yellow and pairs well with citrus.
- Consider Acid Levels
- Like sweetness, wine should be equal to, or higher, in acid than the dish. Example: Pinot Noir matches well with tomato tapenade.
- Choosing the right wine will enhance your guests experience for sure. But, if you are a true wine officiando, you can really take the pairing to the next level.
- Creating a more formal wine and food tasting is always a fun experience for those that attend your wedding. There are several ways to put this plan in place at
- your event.
1- Cocktail hour cheese and Hors d’oeuvres pairings.This approach is a simple way to bring your favorite flavor profiles together without extending the dinner for longer then you would like.
2. Wine and dessert or chocolate tasting. This is another way to limit the intensity of the process. Those of you who are familiar with a formal tasting dinner, know that to pair wine with everything you eat can create a very busy tabletop and a very long dining experience. That is not always the approach you would want to take at your reception, as it tends to leave little time for the dancing portion of your event. However, if you have one setting of desserts paired with wines, it is a fast and lovely way to show your appreciation of wine and a fantastic end to the meal.
3. The full tasting dinner. This is well suited for a couple that is not interested in the dancing / party portion of a wedding reception. In this set up, the meal itself becomes the entertainment and the length is welcome. I can see this being something I would absolutely do. I love the concept.
Pairing your favorite wines and foods over several courses is such a sophisticated way to make your event incredibly personal. But remember what Ray said, you need to watch out for the disastrous pairing that actually makes the food and the wine taste off. I would be careful to try every course with exactly the wine you plan to serve in a coupling with it.