A Perfect Pairing

A lot goes into making a great meal. Preparing fresh ingredients, getting the seasoning just right, plating your dishes, there’s a lot of small details that make a huge impact. An important piece to the composition of a meal is what you choose to sip while eating. Pairing your favorite meals with a great wine or beer can be a challenge, so to make things a bit easier, a few guidelines are listed below.

A Few First Considerations

First of all, you’ll want to decide whether you’d like your drink to contrast or mirror your meal. If you choose a drink with flavours that slightly contrast the flavours in your food, it enhances them, just like when you add that final squeeze of lime over your guacamole. A drink that mirrors your meal complements and offers continuity throughout the entire experience. In addition, you’ll want to consider the impact of what you’re drinking. For instance if you’re having a light salad, you may want to veer away from a full bodied wine.

Sweet Flavours

A lot of what we eat has sweet elements to it. Dishes that are savory but have some sweet elements, like a glaze, are paired well with off-dry wines and just a touch of residual sugar and malty sweetness. Try to avoid dry wines, as when paired with sweeter flavours can tend to taste bitter. Sweeter beverages pair nicely with spicy dishes as they help to counter heat and also enhance aroma.

Carbonated Drinks

There’s a reason pizza and pop go so well together. Carbonation helps to refresh your mouth in between bites. Carbonated drinks like champagne, beer and sparkling wine pair well with rich dishes.

Bitter or Tannin Sips

The slightly astringent, tannin flavour that most wines carry are a perfect match for rich red meats, as the tannin flavour offsets the protein and fat, and in turn balances and in many cases, reduces the impact of tannin. Tannin wines typically don’t pair well with spicy flavours, as the spice actually accentuates the fuzzy feeling you get in your mouth from tannin. Bitter flavours like hoppy beers help to balance hearty, meaty meals.

Most importantly, drink what you enjoy. Sure there’s lots of types of wines that could pair nicely with your dinner, but if you don’t particularly enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc, don’t force it. It’s all about finding what you love.

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