Pairing and Recipe Ideas
Here's one less thing to stress about during holidays and any special event. Sutter Home Winery Culinary Director and Executive Chef Jeffrey Starr has prepared "10 Tips for Food and Wine Pairing," a simple guide to successfully matching food for holidays and any special events with wine. If you've ever wondered which wines you should invite to your table for a special occasion check out tips from the expert here.
10 Tips for Food and Wine Pairing
by Jeffrey Starr, Sutter Home Winery Culinary Director and Executive Chef
- Holiday tables feature many different flavors and ingredients running the gamut from sweet to salty to sour to savory. A selection of wines, from dry reds to off-dry whites, will give your guests a choice.
- Sweetness in dishes can make the tannins in red wines taste bitter and the wine taste strong and thin. If your recipe has ingredients such as dried fruits, sweet, starchy vegetables, sugar, honey, or cooked tomatoes look for softer, fruiter, reds such as Pinot Noir, Italian varietals such as Sangiovese or Barbera, or lighter Zinfandels. Ask your wine merchant for suggestions.
- Method of preparation also has an effect on the wines. Regardless of the protein - poultry, pork, or red meat - braised and slow-cooked recipes tend to pair well with whites or softer, red wines.
- On the other hand, savory, full-bodied, roasted or grilled meats such as New York steak are delicious with bigger, bolder Cabernet Sauvignons and Syrahs. A softer textured meat popular at the holidays, prime rib, is great with Merlot, a softer-textured wine.
- Big, oaky Chardonnays are the favorite choice of many, but can be challenging to pair with food. They're a natural with creamy sauces and the richest seafood, poultry, and pork recipes.
- Holiday first courses often feature composed salads with ingredients such as seafood and avocados - perfect matches for lighter style, unoaked or very lightly oaked wines. Look for Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc or a crisp-style Chardonnay. Sometimes it can be difficult to know which style is in the bottle. Ask your friendly wine merchant - he or she can help direct you to the right choices.
- Americans celebrate a wide range of culinary culture and traditions at the holiday table. Asian and Latin dishes often have very assertive flavors and heat from ingredients such as chilies. Again, look for light, dry whites and off-dry wines such as White Zinfandel, Gewurztraminer, and Chenin Blanc. The light sweetness of these wines tames the fire.
- The dessert course is the crowning glory of many holiday celebrations. Be sure the wine you serve is as sweet or sweeter than your dessert. Otherwise, the wine can taste tart and bitter. Moscato is a great choice for fruit-based desserts; try port with chocolate.
- Wine is a great cooking ingredient and helps to make the food more wine friendly. You don't have to pair the finished dish with the same wine used in its preparation, but do be sure to use a good quality table wine whenever you cook with wine. It will make a difference in the finished dish.
- Don't put away the wine with the good china and silver. Wine makes even everyday meals and casual foods more special - all year round!
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