How to Pick Food and Wine Pairings That Pack a Punch
Don’t Snooze on these Surprising Spring Selections
The sun is shining, the weather is warm, and the year’s first flowers are in bloom -- it’s almost spring, and we can’t wait. It’s time to get outside and fire up the grill in the outdoor kitchen and spend some time with friends and family in the backyard.
This year, we’re especially excited about the fresh seasonal produce and discovering the best food and wine pairings. We've put together this guide to help you find an intriguing wine to emphasize the exciting and indulgent flavors of the season.
Identifying a Good Wine by Taste
The best wine, obviously, is the one you like to drink the most. But there’s something to be said for understanding how to identify a “good” one. Whether you’re interested in impressing your guests, experiencing new flavors, or building a repertoire in the kitchen, a fundamental understanding of wine quality can make it more fun.
One of the easiest ways to tell if a wine is good is to carefully taste it. So, what are you looking for? There are four main characteristics you should be looking for: smell, balance, depth, and finish.
A good wine will smell that way -- typically fruity or floral. If a wine smells sour or off, it’s no good. Trust your nose!
A balanced wine is one that doesn’t overwhelm with a specific characteristic. Acidity, alcohol, and fruit flavors should remain even throughout the sip.
A wine's depth is determined by the types of flavors that hit your tongue. Red wine may taste fruity at first, then transform to something like chocolate. Note the changes in character.
When considering a wine’s finish, think about how long the best flavors stay on your tongue. If they last for a while, you’re drinking quality wine. If they dissipate quickly or leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, it could be lower quality or less balanced.
Spring is all about new experiences, so try pairing your wines with homemade dishes. Pinot Noir pairs well with earthy flavors like truffle and mushroom, Malbec can help balance out the barbecue, and Syrah will pair well with heavily spiced dishes.
Identifying a Good Wine by Look
If you're interested in trying something new, it's sometimes helpful to get an impression before you dive in entirely. You can often get a good sense of the quality of a wine just by looking at it. Here are some tips:
Looking at the label may seem like an obvious first step, but it can tell you a lot about the wine. Not only can you learn the vineyard and any awards that it may have won (both good indicators of quality) but good wineries will also list the vintage and grape varietal on the front label.
Additionally, check out the alcohol percentage. Aim for something between 11 - 15 percent alcohol content, as anything lower or higher likely means it’s unbalanced.
The fresh flavors of spring tend to pair well with white wines. Consider Chardonnay for fatty fish, Sauvignon Blanc for citrus and tangy foods, and Pinot Grigio for lighter, more delicate flavors.
There’s plenty more to learn about food and wine pairings, and the best way to do it is through a hands-on approach. Bon appetite!
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