Food and wine pairing : the main principles
A food and wine pairing is a marriage, for it to be successful, both must be able to express themselves and sublimate each other in a beautiful harmony.
Here are some keys and simple tips to understand and succeed in your agreements, but always remember that the success of an agreement is often very subjective. We all have a different palate, shaped by our culture and our experiences, so listen to yourself first.
How does wine and food interact?
There are five flavors and more or less easy wine pairings.
Acidity and saltiness
These flavors accentuate the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness and reduce the acidity of the wine. Be careful, a wine that is too low in acid may appear flat if it accompanies a very acidic dish.
Sweet and Umami
These two flavors harden the wine. They increase the perception of astringency, bitterness and acidity in wine. A sweet dish should be accompanied by an even sweeter wine.
The perception of bitterness varies greatly from person to person. Bitterness in a dish increases the perception of bitterness in wine.
What to take into account to pull off a great food and wine pairing ?
There are a few exceptions, but it’s a simple and often effective principle. A wine and a dish whose colors are close often work well together. Cheeses and white wines for example.
It can’t really be explained, but wines and dishes from the same region often match beautifully. It is also a way of promoting short circuits.
We chew wine like we chew a dish or food. A dish that requires a long chew calls for a full-bodied red wine with firm tannins. A dish that requires little chewing will work well with a supple red wine with light tannins.
A dish requiring a long time to cook and a lot of transformation/preparation will go well with a more complex and older wine. On the contrary, a simple dish requiring little preparation calls for a young and simple wine.
We often want less of a heady red in the middle of a heat wave and more of a fresh and light wine. In winter, on the contrary, we rather want a warm wine with body curled up by the fire.
Cheese and wine pairing
- Fresh cheeses / whey cheeses / pasta filata (feta, bush, mozzarella, etc.)
With this type of cheese, it is the seasoning that will define the pairing: salt, pepper, fine herbs, honey, jam… will influence the final taste of these tangy and lactic cheeses.
Rosé wines, dry white wines, semi-dry white wines, fruity red wines can pair well.
- Soft cheeses with bloomy rind (Brie, camembert, etc.)
Creamy cheeses that go well with fruity red wines, or crémants brut, the bubbles energize and refresh the palate.
- Non-cooked pressed cheeses (Tome des Bauges, reblochon, etc.)
Cheeses with a dense paste and a strong taste go well with fleshy and spicy red wines or fat and aromatic white wines which bring freshness to the mouth.
- Hard pressed cheeses (Comté, Beaufort, etc.)
Dry white wines with notes of hazelnut and butter go well with these cheeses developing a « fruitiness » and hints of hazelnut.
- Veined cheeses (Roquefort, bleu de Gex, etc.)
Sweet white wines, old red wines with melted tannins, will pair very well.
Cheese and wine pairing : focus on Savoie
My advice of wine pairings for cheeses AOP de Savoie et Haute-Savoie
- Abondance with chasselas.
- Beaufort with Chignin Bergeron.
- Chevrotin with jacquère.
- Emmental de Savoie with Roussette de Savoie.
- Reblochon with Roussette de Savoie.
- Tome des Bauges with Mondeuse noire.