How To Use Wine To Complement Your Meals
This article provides useful advice on how to use wine to enhance your meals. It includes tips on how to pair different wines with different foods, as well as basic information on how to use wine to cook delicious dishes. Wine is one of the oldest fermented drinks produced by humankind, yet today its use is surrounded by mystery, causing many to shy away from using it. The truth is that anyone can learn about serving the right wine with the right meal, and cooking with wine is not at all complicated.
The first rule is: Forget the wine snobs. It isn't necessary to become an oenophile (wine connoisseur) in order to use and enjoy wine. Cooks, hosts and hostesses all can serve wine well by following one basic rule: Choose white wines for white meats and fish, and red wines with red meats and fish, such as salmon.
You can do very well if you only follow the simple rule above. To perfect your wine / food matching abilities, however, you'll need to learn a third rule: the flavor of the wine you select should balance the taste of the food it is served with. In simple terms, the taste of the wine should not overpower the taste of the food, and vice-versa. This is why connoisseurs refer to wines as 'palate cleansers'; the correct wine choice should never affect the taste of the food.
If you are trying to decide which wine to pair with a dish that combines several flavors, you'll need to put a little more thought into your decision - but not much. Just select a wine that matches the main ingredient of your dish. You can also select the correct wine to serve with any food if you match the principle characteristics of both the food and the wine. By 'characteristics', we mean the degree of acidity, sweetness and bitterness. This translates into serving sweet wines with sweet foods, and more bitter wines with food that has a bitter taste.
The third taste characteristic, acidity, will need a little more effort on your part. Determining how acidic a wine should be is not difficult however. Just ask yourself whether the main dish you are serving would be more flavorful with an additional acid taste. If you are serving fish, for instance, adding lemon (acid) would probably enhance the flavor. This means you would do well to match it with a more acidic wine. You'll find that white wines, which are best served with fish and white meat are often acidic. Examples of acidic white wines are white Bordeaux, many sparkling wines, and Rieslings. If you need an acidic red wine, you can try Pinot Noirs or Gamays.
You can get a wealth of additional information on the subject of matching wine with food from wine clubs or by searching the Internet and reading specialized magazines.
The first rule is: Don't use so-called "cooking wine" if you want a truly delectable dish. Aside from being undrinkable (have you ever tried to drink it?), "cooking wine" contains salt, which will throw off the taste of even the most well-prepared dish. The salt acts as a preservative, slowing down the fermentation process that occurs when wine is exposed to the air. This allows cooking wine to hang around for longer (but still one wonders, why?)
Most experienced cooks and professional chefs believe that the wine used in cooking should be a drinkable wine. Rather than grabbing a 'cooking wine' off the shelf, learn which drinkable wines are most suitable to cook with. This does not mean that you should use expensive wines in stews and the like. For most dishes, a lower priced dry wine is the best option (white wine for cooking fish and white meats, red wine for red meats and red fish). Sweet wines are not normally used for cooking, although some recipes do call for them.
See there? That one simple wine-and-food rule works for cooking and drinking!