How to pair wine with food?

Here are the 5 golden rules practiced by Sommeliers around the world to help you find the right bottle of wine:

1) Choose a wine style that you like: based on your experience, do you prefer light body (Cotes du Rhone) or full body (Chateauneuf du Pape)? fresh acidity (Chablis) or smooth acidity (Meursault)? dry wine (Sancerre) or sweet wine (Sauternes)? fruity (Beaujolais) or oaky (Pauillac)?

2) Match the price of the food with the wine: what is the occasion? An everyday wine would be good with a simple dish (ham and mash potatoes, seafood pasta, sushis, pizzas...), but a premium wine would be better with delicacies (oyster, lobster, caviar, truffle...).

3) Match delicate flavors with delicate wines and vice versa: look for similarities in acidity level (lemon pie with Champagne); sweetness level (dark chocolate cake with Vin Doux Naturel); bold flavors (caramelized pork belly, ox tail stew) with powerful wine (Cahors, Cornas). Ideally try to link the flavors profile, like serving a fresh mineral white wine (Loire Valley Chenin blanc) with a hot salty dish with iodine flavors (deep fried seafood tempuras) or mineral aftertaste (warm goat cheeses salad), a spicy Alsace Gewurztraminer with an Indian Curry, a creamy white wine with a creamy cheese, a fruity red wine with a juicy red meat. Please try to avoid the contrasts like dry white wines with sweet cakes or red wine with seafood, as they tend to kill each other.

4) Match the color of the food and wine: white wines with creamy sauce and cheeses, poultry and fish, dark leafy greens (their bitterness doesn't go well with reds) and most veggies (cauliflower, corn, onion, leek, asparagus, green bell pepper, green olives...), and if you are looking to pair wine with desserts, prefer white fruits (apple pie, peach, pear, etc); a dry rosé wine is very versatile, food friendly, and go well with everything pink (salmon, prawn, crab, tuna, bacon, pizza); depending on the red wine (light, medium, full bodied), pair it with red meats (lean meat like duck or beef with lean red wine, or fatty meat like pork and lamb with rich powerful red wine) or red-purple veggies (beans, lentils, beetroot, tomato sauce, red quinoa, red cabbage, red bell pepper, black olives...) and red-black fruits for desserts (berries, cherries...). Once you picked the colour, consider the cooking methods (raw, boiled, baked, braised, stir fry, deep fried...) and seasonings (salt and pepper, sugar and honey, lemon and vinegar...) and fine tune your wine selection accordingly (light or full bodied, dry or lightly sweet...).

5) Match also the geographic origins: source products from the same region (Vin Jaune and Comte; Apple Cider and Camembert; Loire Valley Sauvignon or Chenin Blanc with Goat cheese; Alsace Riesling with Munster or Sauerkraut; White Burgundy with Brillat-Savarin; Red Burgundy with Coq-Au-Vin; Cahors with Cassoulet or Duck Confit; Oysters with a Bordeaux Entre-Deux-Mers; White or Rose de Provence with Bouillabaisse...). Usually “what grows together, goes together” and the Chefs best recipes and classic wine pairings are created with local, seasonal products.

Conclusion => remember to have fun and experiment, there are more than 1000 grape varieties and wine styles, and each country, region, city and family have their own recipes. At the beginning, it's probably more a trial and error process, but like everything else, you get better with practice, if you are not sure, ask some wine professionals to assist you. Eventually, trust your instinct, palate and senses and don't let other people sway your opinion. Of course, there are objective facts like the size and topography of a vineyard, or the methods of cultivation and winemaking, but the wine perception is very subjective. When it comes to personal preferences, there is no right or wrong or definitive answers. And like most of the good things in life, it's all about quality, not quantity, please drink with moderation! 

Bonus : "French Wine and Cheese Pairing Guide"

Here is the general idea : try to match the flavor intensity of the wine with the cheese. Milky cheese with light white wine, creamy cheese with buttery white, aged cheese with light bodied red, hard salty cheese with full bodied red, and blue cheese with sweet wines or really robust red.

- Fresh goat cheese pair well with dry fruity white wine (think about Loire Valley Chenin / Sauvignon Blanc).

- Soft ripened cheese pair well with creamy white wine (think about Burgundy / Chardonnay).

- Washed rind cheese with stinky smell but mild flavors go well with fruity red wine (light bodied red with low tannin, ex : Grenache / Gamay / Pinot Noir).

- Hard pressed cheese go well with dry red wine (the fat and proteins bind with tannins and make the wine taste softer, ex : Merlot, Cabernets, Syrah).

- Blue Cheese with sharp and salty flavors contrast surprisingly well with sweet, fortified or botrytized wine (ex: Sauternes, Banyuls, Alsace Vendanges Tardives...).

At the end of the day, it is a matter of personal preference, but regional pairing have proven to be effective time and again, "if it grows together, it goes together."

Now you only need to experiment to find out what works best for your tastebuds!

Although we don't supply French farmed cheese, we have a great selection of boutique French wine at wholesale price!

Direct import from France. Best price guaranteed in Singapore.

Cheers,

G.

French cheese and wine pairing guide