With so many roles to juggle, it seems like harmony is at the core of what we busy women entrepreneurs all strive to achieve, both personally and professionally. So why not consider achieving a little slice of harmony with food and wine? After all, everything is more fun with great food and wine, right?
As a Certified Sommelier, my favorite part of training was to learn how to pair food and wine harmoniously. It’s a natural marriage, so every dining experience becomes an exploration of pairings and a quest for harmony.
There are many “rules” when it comes to food and wine pairing, but for the sake of realistic application, simplicity, and pleasure, just consider a few guidelines and above all, remember to trust your palate.
For me, acronyms are easy to remember complex concepts. Here’s my simplified checklist for achieving harmonious pairings: the “WAIST Check” for easy reference and memory.
Does the dish match the weight and intensity of the wine? Avoid pairing delicate with heavy, such as sushi with a full-bodied Chardonnay. An exception would be tempura-based sushi.
What’s the acidity level? Higher acid wines are more food-friendly. An easy way to determine the acidity level is to detect how much your mouth waters. A high acid wine that may seem too acidic on its own can be just as lovely with rich or salty food as with a dish that has some tartness.
For fun, try the following pairings (they are equally delicious)
- High acid wine with salty richness: Potato chips with Champagne
- High acid wine with high acid dish: Ceviche with a Sauvignon Blanc
Is the dish sweet, salty or spicy? The wine should be as sweet or sweeter than the dish or you’re in for a bitter ending. However, very sweet wines can be great with salty food like Sauternes with Roquefort and Port with Stilton (quite amazing wine and cheese pairings).
If a dish is a tad too salty, pair it with a high acid wine to balance both components.
Sugar and Spice: off-dry wine (noticeable sweetness and fruitiness) pairs well with spicy dishes.
Is the wine very tannic? The higher the tannin level (how dry is your mouth feeling?), the more bitter the wine. In general, wine with high tannins will exaggerate saltiness in food, and saltiness accentuates tannins and alcohol in a wine.
A highly tannic wine is best with a dish that has some element of bitterness such as a grilled or charred effect or ingredients with bitter flavors such as bell peppers, broccoli rabe, and eggplant.
There are guidelines for sure, but really the best way to determine how harmonious a pairing may be is to test it out and have fun with the process.
Sample a pairing with your favorite dish based on the above guidelines and share your impressions. Have difficulty deciding which one? Here’s an easy one to start: french fries with Champagne won’t disappoint!
Please post your questions or results below. Cheers to harmony in food and wine… and taking time to savor it all.