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A new approach to food & wine matching (part 1)

Nov 12 2019

There are lots of ways to approach food and wine matching, but at sipp we prefer to keep things simple. So Beyond The Bottle #6 is all about sharing our unique food & wine matching method, one that gives you the tools to cut through the confusion and get it right first time.

We’re not into long lists of dos and don’ts that you have to memorise. Instead, we’ve devised a simple method to help you find the right wine for any food. It might take a few goes to get your head around at first, but trust us – it does't take long for this method to become instinctive. Master this simple approach and you’ll be the envy of all your mates next time a restaurant wine list comes around.

Free your mind

The sipp way is to start with the food and then look for a suitable wine to pair with it (as opposed to pairing a food to a wine, which can be more complicated).

All you do is think about the food, or dish, like a chef. What are its main flavours and sensations? Start with the five basic tastes. Is the dish sweet, salty, bitter, sour or umami (that’s that meaty, savoury taste you find a lot in Asian cooking)? Then think about the sensation of eating it. Is it fatty, spicy, cooling (like menthol), astringent (like strong black tea without milk) or starchy? Once you analyse food in this more ‘scientific’ way, finding a wine to complement it gets a whole lot easier.

Where balance meets contrast

It’s all comes down to balance and contrast. Your don't want a wine that overpowers the food, nor one that underwhelms it. Similarly, you don't want any weird clashes of flavour or sensation (tannic red wines and chilli, for instance, is a bad pairing as they tend to 'fight'). So make a note (write it down if it helps at first) of the main tastes, sensations and flavours of a food or dish. Then match these against the style, body and profile of a wine to find one that will pair well.

To get you started, have a look at the following three videos as we go through the process of finding a perfect wine match for classic Roast Chicken, a juicy Ribeye Steak, and a spicy Thai Prawn Curry. For each one we break down the dishes and then suggest the wines styles that will balance or complement the main elements of each.

In part 2, we'll take this further and show you some more challenging matches, plus we'll share our comprehensive food & wine matching wheel. As always, leave us a comment on social media if you want to discuss or know more…

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