Luke's Super Liquor Stores of Cape Cod
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  Tips on Pairing Food & Wine


  • Consider the body and/or weight of the wine. Match delicate to delicate and hearty to hearty. You wouldn't want to serve a delicate wine like pinot noir with a hearty, spicy chili…the wine would end up tasting like water.
  • When pairing food and wine, the two should either be a lot alike or extremely opposite so as to set up a contrast that will create a balance between them. For example, Chardonnay is a good match for lobster in a cream sauce. Both are rich and creamy. An example of contrast is ham and Beaujolais. The extreme fruitiness of Beaujolais is a perfect match for the saltiness of the ham and creates a nice balance between them.
  • Choose wines that have flexibility. Wines with high acidity are a good choice. The high acidity leaves you wanting to take a bite of food and taking a bite of food leaves you wanting a sip of wine. The perfect example of ying and yang. The most flexible red wines either have good acidity, like Chianti or pinot noir, or they have lots of fruit and not a lot of tannin, like zinfandel and simple Italian reds.
  • Dishes with fruit in them often pair well with fruit-driven wines that have superfruity aromas. Examples - roasted chicken with apricot glaze, Hawaiian ham with pineapple could be paired with one of the following white wines - gewurztraminer, muscat, riesling or viognier
  • Saltiness in food is a great contrast to acidity in wine. Asian dishes, especially that have soy sauce in them, often pair well with high-acid wines like German rieslings. Saltiness is also a good contrast to sweetness. Try those same Asian dishes with a slightly sweet style riesling. Each tends to bring the other into the middle for a nice balance.
  • A high-fat food, something with a lot of butter or cream, needs an equally rich, intense, and structured wine. This is where the classic pairing of grilled steak and a powerful cabernet sauvignon comes in.
  • Consider sweetness carefully, especially when pairing desserts. The general rule is that the wine should be sweeter than the food it is paired with. Desserts that are sweeter than the wines they are paired with make the wine taste dull.
  • If you use wine in your cooking, it is best to use the same style of wine as the one you are going to drink with the meal.
  • Tried and true - match food and wines from the same regions like Chianti Riserva with hearty pasta sauces. These combinations cannot be bettered. There is an undeniable connection between the foods of a place and the wines of a place, historically.
  • Lastly, pair great with great and simple with simple. Don't waste that special bottle of '94 Napa Cabernet on a hamburger when a simple Montepulciano d'Abruzzo would do the trick.
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