11 Principles of Food-and-Wine Pairing

Over the years, the wine clubs of Vinesse have featured numerous wines from Zaca Mesa, an esteemed wine estate in California’s Santa Barbara County. In addition to producing great wines, Zaca Mesa also has served as a training ground for vintners who have gone on to enjoy exceptional careers at other estates.

The winery also has established some basic principles for successful food-and-wine matching.

The team at Zaca Mesa notes that acidity plays a powerful role in the successful matching of food and wine. High acid wines (with ph in the 3.0 to 3.4 range) can pair well with a wide variety of foods. But more specifically…

P-1. Pair high acid wines with high acid foods.

P-2. High acid wines also temper salty foods. Example: Champagne and caviar.

P-3. High acid wines are a terrific counterpoint to smoked foods.

P-4. High acid foods, such as tomatoes, render most wines flat.

P-5. High acid foods make tannic wines, such as ageable reds, seem hard and bitter.

Saltiness and sweetness also play a role in successful pairing.

P-6. Salty foods will dull the flavors of many wines. To counter this, serve wines that are slightly sweet. Example: Off-dry Gewurztraminer or Riesling with ham.

P-7. Foods with fruity (sweet) components are best with fruity wines.

Aging wine for a long period of time in new oak barrels can result in a very tasty wine, but also can make food pairing a challenge. The wine does the food no favors, and vice versa.

P-8. Match delicate wines with delicate foods. Examples: Viognier with sole, or Chardonnay with sea bass.

P-9. Match bold wines with bold, big-flavored foods. Examples: Syrah with grilled steak, or Roussanne with rich cheeses.

P-10. Match great food with great, complex wines. Example: filet mignon with Cabernet Sauvignon.

P-11. Match everyday food with everyday wines. Example: meatloaf with Merlot.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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