-“A meal with the right wine becomes a dinner”-
Which wine do you choose to combine with your dinner or snacks? Always a difficult question. Does it really matter? Absolutely! A wrongly chosen wine can make your delicious dish a lot less tasty. And vice versa a dish can reduce a delicious wine to an uninteresting liquid. Both parts must complement and reinforce each other. But how do you do this? The basics:
Sweet dish: sweet is looking for sweet
A sweet dish can screw up every wine. The wine can even taste bitter. Such a waste. A main course with a touch of sweetness (perhaps you have used delicious ripe fruit) could best be combined with a semi-dry wine, which also has a touch of sweetness or even full-bodied wine.
If you are looking for a wine matching a sweet dessert, always go for a wine that is sweeter than the dish itself. Obviously you’ll end up choosing a dessert wine or PX (Pedro Ximénez) sherry.
Sour dish: sour is looking for sour
A wine with a sour dish? Is this possible? Sure! Do you have a sharp vinaigrette or a lot of citruses? Make sure to choose a crispy wine with a lot of acidity. You will notice how pleasantly this will combine. The fruits of the wine will become more noticeable. If you take a wine that is too mild, you will notice that it will appear too mild after a sour bite of food.
Salt dish: Salt tempers acidity ( and vice versa) & Salt is looking for sweet
Salt is a great combination with wine. It takes off the hard edges. A salt dish goes wonderfully well with a wine having high acidity. You’ll get the most fantastic combinations here. Take a Sauvignon Blanc with a bag of chips, salted nuts or pretzels. Mmmm.
Also, sweet wines go amazingly well with a salt dish. Try a salty cheese with a glass of sweet wine and you’ll know what I mean.
Bitter dish: Bitter is looking for bitter or few tannins & enough acidity
Dishes such as radicchio, chicory or arugula can be difficult to combine with wine. Bitters tend to pile up. I recommend a white wine or a wine with few tannins but enough acidity. If you choose too soft a wine, it will be a bit disappointing
Umami dish: Umami is looking for fruity
Umami could be described as a savory taste. Umami often comes in combination with other flavors such as sweet and salt. In that case, making a wine-food combination is easier.
Asparagus, egg, mushroom and ripe soft cheeses (without further processing) are considered to be difficult to combine. In that case, choose fruity wines with few tannins, because Umami emphasizes the bitterness of the tannins.
Saké, dry sherry or Vin Jaune from Jura are also beautiful combinations.
Greasy dish: fats are looking for high acidity or a lot of tannins ( or both)
The fats from the dish must be broken in order to combine well with wine. Choose a wine with high acidity or wine with tannins (or both). A young Nebbiolo will do well with creamy cheese sauce. A young burgundy will combine with a fatty fried goose.
Note: I chose the rough basic tastes as a starting point. It makes a big difference whether you have basic cooked chicory, chicory lettuce with a vinaigrette or chicory with a creamy cheese sauce. The additives will considerably influence the dish. In that case you then have to adjust your wine selection accordingly.