How to pick the perfect wines to go with your carefully chosen menu.
Next to the beauty of the ceremony and how gorgeous the bride looked, the thing most people will remember and talk about at any wedding is the food and wine. It is really one of the highlights of the reception and most people feel a ton of pressure to get it right when planning their wedding. Although it may seem intimidating at first, it is quite simple.
It is more than likely you have heard the saying, “red meat, red wine. White meat, white wine”. While that is a good rule of thumb, it turns out it isn’t exactly right. There are certain bold whites which work well with red meat and sweeter reds which make chicken dishes shines. It turns out there are six basic flavours to know about when it comes to wine and what to pair them with. They are fats, acid, bitter, sweet, salt, and alcohol. Each adds its own special je ne sais qua to any meal. So, let’s take a look at which pairings work best together and which to avoid.
Bitter and fats:
If you are serving a super fatty dish like steak or, say, a lamb stew, a nice, deep Malbec would pair perfectly with it. Not only does the fat from the food cut the bitterness of the wine a little, the wine will balance the fat of the dish out, so you experience some of the subtler flavours from both.
However, stay away from pairing bitter wine with bitter foods. Anything flavoured with citrus will do nothing for the wine. Better go with a slightly sweeter wine or something acidic.
Speaking of acid, acid pairs well with acid. If you have your heart set on your favourite vinaigrette dressing for the salad, best to pair it with what people in the know refer to as a crisp white wine. The acidity in each seems to help balance each other out, creating an enjoyable tartness.
Acid also works well with high fatty dishes, for a lot of the reasons bitter and fats work well together.
Sweet and Salty:
Yes, we are putting these two together, because who doesn’t love the complex palate of sweet and salty. It is what makes sea salt caramel so tasty or why chocolate covered peanuts are still such a hit. They just seem to bring out the best in each other. So, if you are having a cheese course, why not think about offering nice desert wine? Yum.
And of course, sweet and sweet work well on every level. So, when the cake comes out, make sure you have a tasty dessert wine on hand.
You are probably thinking to yourself, “but wait, doesn’t all wine have alcohol in it?” and while that is very true, some contain more than others. Wines with higher alcohol contents are great for fatty meals you want people to slow down and really enjoy. So, if you are serving fillet mignon, think about pairing with something upward of 15% alcohol content. The tartness of the alcohol will highlight the cut of meat while encouraging people to take their time and taking pleasure in the food.
One Last Thing:
Don’t forget to take the “weight” of the wine into account too. Full bodied wines tend not to pair well with light food and vice versa. So, pairing a full-bodied red with a veggie quiche just isn’t going to work just like a super light desert white wine isn’t going to work with pepper steak.
For more helpful hints and a printable cheat sheets to help with wine and food pairings and so much more, sign up for our course on how to plan your own wedding. Available in both desk top and mobile versions, it is like having your own personal wedding planner available 24/7!