Wine Tips from Zoltan Szabo: Some Principles
of Food and Wine Matching
780 Eglington Ave. West, Suite 508
Toronto ON M5N 1E9
Adapted by Jim Clarke
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
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.