How To Pair Wine With Food at Your Dinner Party
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You've gone to a huge amount of effort to organise a dinner party. You've actually managed to find a date where everyone can make it along. You've been out shopping and spent up on fresh quality ingredients. You've planned the evening. You've even got a music playlist in mind. But what about the wine? How do you pair the perfect wine with your well planned meal?
You can be your own Sommelier at home. Here's some tips:
What are your favourite wines?
The above might seem like a surprising question, but it's best if you've already tasted and experienced the wines you want to serve up at your dinner party. It makes sense to serve up a wine at your dinner party you are familiar with and like. While it can be fine to introduce new wines you've never tasted, it's cool to be able to talk about the wines with your guests and have foreknowledge. Are you into straw-like peachy crisp Sauvignon Blanc? Buttery Chardonnay? Do you like your wine with or without Oak barrel fermentation taste? Are you into Italian varietals like Nebbiolo or Sangiovese - great food wines? Or a Spanish Tempranillio? Do you enjoy big bold Shiraz or Cabernet? Or even a Pinot Noir, also a great match with many foods?
At The World Loves Melbourne's dinner parties we tend to serve up wines that we are already drinking; tested and tried favourites. Our friends recommended Vinomofo to us, member based online wine retailer, and we've been stocking up our cellar ready for every dinner party occasion. Vinomofo work directly with the best producers in the world to find the wines they love, and curate them to your personal taste.
What are your favourite wine regions?
Sometimes we're not sure where to start when ordering wine online for our dinner party. We've just said "choose some wines you already like" but also it's great to choose wines from wine regions you already like. At a fancy hatted restaurant we were asked by a Sommelier, "Well, before I recommend anything, what wine regions do you like?" For example do you like Spanish wines? Italian? New Zealand Marlborough? Hunter Valley? Barossa Cabernets? Coonawarra? Margaret River? Heathcote unique tasting Shiraz? Yarra Valley? Mornington Peninsula?
There's so many iconic wine regions in Australia and around the world. Each has their own characteristics; and many of us have our favourites. Having worked in the wine industry The World Loves Melbourne is familiar with most wine regions in Australia and many overseas. We're partial to McLaren Vale reds, Coonawarra and Barossa reds, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and Yarra Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Also we love King valley Italian varietals. And the list goes on...
One school of thought is that you can't go wrong from enjoying wine from a recognised wine region. Australian wine tends to be fruit driven and has a fruit intensity compared to some other regions of the world. But a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is simply amazing; fresh and crisp.
Having said that, it's also great to be adventurous and try new things; part of the excitement around a dinner party is the adventure of new tastes. A highly recommended wine from a region you've never experienced can be a winner.
Pair cuisines from regions with wine from those regions
What do we mean by this? Well if you're planning on cooking a Spanish Paella for your dinner party, how about pairing it with a Spanish style Tempranillo? Or if you love cooking up an Italian inspired pasta dish then order some Italian style Sangiovese or Nebbiolo. Of course there's no hard and fast rules but this can be a great option.
Pair white meats, seafood with white wines
There's no hard and fast rule when it comes to food and wine pairing. Pair whatever wine you like with whatever food you like. There are some old adages though and this is one of them; pairing fish and white meat generally with white wine. This is because white wines have higher levels of acidity that complements fish dishes well. Like a lime or lemon provides zest to a seafood dish, white wines with higher acidity levels essentially do the same. Some say white wine actually improves the taste of fish or brings out the flavours to a greater degree.
For more "meaty" fish such as Swordfish and Tuna we often prefer reds to whites given the richer nature of these fish.
Pair red meats with red wine
Another adage is to pair red wines with red meats. This is because red wine contains higher levels of tannins which complement the fattiness of many meats. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in plants and wood; and they have a drying property. That's why if you drink a few reds you may feel a little dehydrated; just drink water to re-hydrate. Of course we always recommend responsible drinking.
Embrace blends and varietals - they're food friendly
Many wines are 100% of a grape; but it's fun trying out blends where you get a mix of various types of grapes. For example a common blend is GSM; Grenache - Shiraz - Mouvedre. Another is Cabernet Shiraz or Cabernet Merlot. In no way should a blend be seen as negative; it doesn't make it any less than a wine with 100% of the grape varietal. Vinomofo sells some great blend wines online that excite. A trend is regional blends as well as variety blends. Often blended wines can be softer and smoother wines.
The World Loves Melbourne used to be all about big bold Shiraz and cabernet but in recent times we've taken to other varietals such as Italian varietals of Sangiovese, Nebbilio, Barbera, Prosecco and Nero D'Avola. Not to mention Spanish Tempranillo and French wines. Many styles also have their expression here in Australia.
Decanter wine at the age of its prime
Most wine purchased online can just be opened and poured and consumed without a decanter process. But if there's some age on the wine, say 2 years or more for a mid priced Shiraz, you may wish to decanter in order for the wine to "breathe". Sediment often occurs after about 5 years in the bottle, so for older wines a decanter process is recommended to separate out the sediment. Buy yourself a decanter and look to decanter the wine at the start of your dinner party so it's ready to pour when the food is served.
You can also Google your wine to discover when it's designed to be at its prime age, and aim to drink it then. Some wines are built to be consumed say after 5 years; others longer. Of course wines purchased through Vinomofo can be consumed straight away, but you may like to decanter wines that are still on the young side. Most red wine benefits from about 15 minutes of "breathing" whether you decanter it or not.
Enjoy guests wine but also have a plan yourself
When guests bring wine to a dinner party I thank them. But I also have my own plan. Sometimes I keep the guest wine on the shelf and still go to my own collection first. I've planned this dinner party and I'm keen for some excellent food and wine pairings. Sometimes the wine the guests bring isn't conducive to a great pairing. Tact is needed. Often we will drink the wine we planned then introduce the guests' wine. At the end of the day it's about having fun and exploring exciting food and wine pairings.
Have a great dinner party!
This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.
Have a taste of Vinomofo, the most epic wine site on the planet. Join their epic tribe of 400,000+ vino loving mofos today and discover a world where wine is fun.