When to Drink Wine With Food
FOOD AND WINE
It is sad that people worry so much about matching wine with food, as it really matters so little. The only important aspect is that you enjoy it.
Even the best-known ‘rule’, which dictates that you must drink red wine with meat and white wine with fish, was made to be broken. Fish tends to be more delicate than meat. White wines tend to be more delicate than red and to have a little bit more of that acid we like with fish, as our taste for lemon juice, tartare sauce and vinegar testifies. Hence a gastronomic tradition that is reverently served up to generation after generation by a line of solemn wine-waiters. In fact some light reds such as youthful wines from Burgundy and the Loire can be lovely lubricants for richer fish dishes. By the same token, white wines such as full-bodied white Burgundies and other Chardonnays can well stand up to meat dishes.
The key element in a wine that determines what food it would taste best with is not colour, but body or alcohol. Robust, strong-flavoured foods need full-bodied wines, while dishes that are delicate in texture or subtle in flavour call for something much lighter bodied. This is simply to ensure that food is not overwhelmed br being eaten with wine that is too overpowering and vice versa.
For the same reason, it makes sense when serving a sequence of more than one wine at a meal — a habit that indicates a thoughtful host – to serve lighter bodied wines before fuller ones. A dry wine tastes sour after a sweet one, so it makes sense to serve the drier wines first. It is also a good idea if serving wines of different cost and quality, to put the best at the end. Otherwise the lesser bottles will look more puny than they need.
There are a very few foods that are difficult to enjoy with a glass of wine, though highly spiced foods like curries are among them. Globe artichokes and asparagus seem to make wine taste metallic, just as toothpaste does to wine or any other fruit juice. Anything very high in acid, such as a particularly sharp vinaigrette, does little to improve the flavour of a fine wine, though you can always rinse away the vinegar flavour with a mouthful of water or something absorbent and neutral such as bread. A wine served with something sweet needs to be at least as sweet as the dish it is accompanying. Otherwise, all you will taste in the wine will be its acidity. This means that something as rich as chocolate mousse or crème brulee calls for a really heavy Sauternes or a sweet fortified wine.