Food Layering and Wine Pairing

Pairing wine with food certainly isn’t rocket science. And we concur with the assertion that a person should, first and foremost, eat and drink what they like.

But if you take just a little time to think through pairing possibilities, your taste buds will be rewarded with some wonderful culinary experiences.

Anyone who grew up in “snow country” understands the concept of layering. It’s how folks survive those long, sometimes bitterly cold winters.

Layering also takes place in kitchens—only instead of undershirts and coats, it involves multiple ingredients in a single dish. And when layering is embraced, additional attention needs to be paid to the wine selection.

Let’s take shrimp, as an example. When grilled, or breaded and then fried, shrimp’s most sublime pairing partner is Sauvignon Blanc. Add a squeeze of lime to the shrimp, and the wine pairing works even better.

Now let’s add a few layers to the dish. Prep a frying pan with vegetable oil, then add some chopped tomatoes and red chilies to the shrimp pieces.

Suddenly, those layers have created a dish that cries out for a red wine. And here’s where a little bit of pairing knowledge comes in handy. The red wine needs to be high in acid and low in tannins.

That means you need to avoid Cabernet Sauvignon, and opt for a bright, fruit-forward California Pinot Noir. Another tasty option: Barbera from Italy’s Piedmont region.

When considering wines to serve with a specific dish, you need to know more than just the main ingredient; you need to know about the layers.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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