Red wine with beef and white wine with fish. For generations, pairing wine with food was as simple as that.
Then came the book, “Red Wine With Fish,” and all hell broke loose.
Yes, we’re kidding, but there’s no question that book got people to put more thought into the wines they served with dinner.
The main lesson learned in succeeding years is that it’s not so much about the food, but about the food’s dominant flavor. And, in many cases, that flavor comes from a sauce.
With that in mind, we offer some simple guidelines – as “Red Wine With Fish” proved, there no longer are any rules – for pairing wine with a number of popular sauces…
* Coconut-based curries. California Chardonnay – the rich, buttery versions – don’t match with a wide variety of dishes; they’re much better when savored solo. But this is one exception to the “rule.”
* Marinara. Chianti is the obvious choice, because it’s always a good idea to pair country with country – in this case, Italy. If the sauce has a little bit of a kick to it, Zinfandel is another tasty option.
* Balsamic Vinaigrette. This one can be problematic, but the best choice is a bright, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc.
* Aioli. Whether you’re using it as a dip or a spread – or even an accent to a main dish – a Rose-style wine makes a perfect pairing partner.
* White cream sauce. Chardonnay is a good choice, and so is Pinot Grigio or Riesling.
* Sweet soy plum sauce. If you’ve ever had the VIP Duck dish at P.F. Chang’s, you’re familiar with this tasty sauce. It matches beautifully with Gewurztraminer.