Wine Tips from Sommelier Zoltan Szabo of Toronto - Canada
A Learned Response: “This wine would go well with a triple-cream cheese.” Many of our wine pairing preferences are learned by experience; however, whether they’re classic pairings or unorthodox combinations, it’s what works for you that’s the guiding factor: personal taste rules.
Texture: Match “power with power;” light-textured food balances better with lighter-bodied wines, while heavier dishes demand fuller-bodied wine. It’s not just the amount of alcohol or kinds of flavors involved; mouthfeel plays an important role.
Cooking methods: Poaching, searing, grilling – each method changes the intensity of the dish and emphasizes different textures and flavors; knee-jerk pairings deserve reconsideration when a different cooking method comes into play.
Complement or Contrast: A contrasting wine – high-acid white with a richer dish – cleanses the palate and invigorates the appetite; a bigger wine which complements the richness makes for a meditation from one bite to the next.
Dominant Flavor: The protein is not always the dominant flavor in a dish; keep the sauce – especially traditional, high-in-fat sauces – in mind when you’re choosing the wine.
Keeping wine in order: Whether alone or with food, you’ll get the most out of your wine drinking if you keep some things in order; otherwise the wines may suffer in comparison of their predecessors. So:
1. Dry wine before sweet wine
2. Lower alcohol before higher alcohol
3. Sparkling wines before still wines
4. Younger wines before older wines
5. Light wines before full-bodied wines
Finally, when you order a bottle of wine to go with a multi-course meal – or when everyone has ordered something different – keep an eye out for crossover wines – wines that can pair with two or three different dishes. New World Sauvignon Blanc, Indigenous Italian whites, California Pinot Noir, and Southern Italian reds are all good examples of versatility.
Sommelier Zoltan SzaboToronto
780 Eglington Ave. West, Suite 508