We live in the Wine Country and have unlimited access to the absolute best wine and food in the world, which can be overwhelming when trying to figure out food and wine pairing. Recently I was asked by a local winemaker if I pair food and wine in order to make the wine taste better or for the food to taste better. I thought for a minute and sheepishly replied, “umm make the food better.” The winemaker agreed and I smiled proudly but internally I was shocked that I didn’t already have an established goal for food and wine pairing. I’ve tried both approaches in the past and I have been a little disappointed trying to create a meal to make a wine taste better. My greatest pairing success usually occurs when I am at a local tasting room and one of the wines stands out and triggers the flavors of one of the staple meals I make at home (where I know the flavors), causing me to instantly want to cook that meal and pair the wine. Wine should be a compliment to food and paired together they should enhance your overall experience.
I live with the belief that when it comes to wine, you like what you like. As long as you enjoy the wine you are drinking you are doing something right! Here are a few general tips you should take into consideration when pairing food and local wine: 1) Wine and cheese pair perfectly, especially when from the same region (Redwood Hill Farm Three Peppercorn Chèvre and a Rockpile Zinfandel = awesome!). 2) Match the flavors of the wine with those best paired with the food. 3) Champagne tastes amazing with anything salty. 4) Sauvignon Blanc goes well with tarty foods. 5) Pinot Noir is fabulous when partnered with earthy flavored dishes. 6) Cabernet Sauvignon and juicy red meat are best friends. 7) Syrah likes to be matched up with highly spiced dishes. 8) Tomatoes are acidic and can be tough on wine, so you need a wine with acidity to match (for fresh tomatoes use Sauvignon Blanc, with tomato sauce use Barbera and for sun-dried tomatoes use Rieseling). 9) Dessert wines should be sweeter than the dessert. 10) Most importantly – there are NO rules when matching your favorite wines and recipes. Ultimately the best match is what pleases your palate.