SEASONAL WINE PAIRINGS
Spring is finally here. You have adjusted your menus, replacing heavier meals with lighter fare and taking advantage of Mother Nature’s best by selecting produce that will peak during the season. However, now that you’ve made these changes to your food, do you need to do the same with your wine selection?
According to the Senior Editor and Tasting Director of Enobytes, Pamela Heiligenthal, while lighter styled wines are great for Spring because they pair well with lighter fare cuisine, the ultimate key is to balance the style of the wine with the style of the food. The overall flavor of your food will have an effect on the taste of the wine, which can either contradict or complement the flavor and texture of your meal, no matter what the season.
During Spring, try crisp and refreshing white wines, like Pinot gris, Sauvignon blanc and Viognier, which pair well with grilled chicken or seafood, and lighter styled, less tannic reds, like Pinot noir or Spanish Tempranillo, with pork, but remember, not all Spring dishes are light in flavor. Some foods require a heavier or spicier style to match the smokiness of the dish.
Heiligenthal recommends pairing a Gewürztraminer, Riesling or Chardonnay with barbecued chicken, or a Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Zinfandel with barbequed pork or lamb.
Even if you are cooking hamburgers on the grill or simply ordering a pizza, you can still enjoy a nice glass of wine because selecting the right wine is less about the meat and more about the sauces or flavors of the accompaniments.
Heiligenthal says, “A Barbera, Cabernet franc or Chianti would pair great with a red sauce pizza accompanied with pepperoni (or any type of meat). If you love pesto, try pairing your pie with a red Primitivo, a southern Italian version of California’s Zinfandel. However, if you prefer white wines, Sauvignon blanc or Pinot gris is good. White sauce pizza fares well with a number of wines, like Pinot noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay. And, if you're uncertain of what goes best, you can’t go wrong with Chianti!
“One of my favorite pairings is cheeseburgers and sautéed onions with a Primitivo and, if you like a lot of ketchup, stick with a fruity or sweet wine to complement the ketchup. If you prefer bacon or mushrooms on your burger, try an Australian Shiraz or a Malbec from France or Argentina. The food pairing choices are endless!”
The traditional rules of only pairing white wine with poultry and fish and red wine with pasta and beef are great starting points, but it’s important to take into account the overall flavor or the types of sauces that accompany the dish.
Foods that are sweet or bitter may make wine textures appear stronger and bring out the dryness of the wine, so you may want to avoid pairing these foods with a wine that tends to be dry and, instead, look for wines that are lighter in flavor. Well-seasoned foods and salty dishes will bring out the sweetness of the wine. You want to be careful when pairing these foods with wines that are sweet to avoid an overbearing sweetness.
“Keep in mind, there are no hard rules to follow when pairing wine with food. Guidelines are great, but you really need to experiment on your own and find a pairing you like. So grab a glass, try some combinations, and don’t let anyone dictate what works; it’s about what you enjoy!” says Heiligenthal.
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