A sommelier's art: wine and food pairing

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As much as the success of a dating agency match will depend on partnering the right profiles together while paying attention to suitability of personality traits, so is the job of a sommelier when considering matching food and wine.

The core aspect of the role of a sommelier is helping diners to select the perfect wine to the chosen dish and to create a synergy between the two. Attributes of the wine such as fruitiness, acidity and structure will need to interact with the attribute of the food and vice versa, almost creating an exchange or a communication from one to the other. The best matches are often the simplest with minimal uncluttered flavours leading to a clear communication, or when the wine lets the food speak – such as using wines with less body or alcohol. Matching food and wine is very subjective but shouldn’t be difficult. And when everything plays out the way it should the wine will make the food taste better and the experience becomes unforgettable. Unfortunately there is often very little attention paid to the food we are eating with the wine we are drinking. So how do we get there?

A guideline to success is to match the characteristics of the food with the characteristics of the wine, such as light food with lighter wines and complex flavours with more bodied wines. A marriage by contract can also be achieved for example by using the acidity in wine to cut through fattiness in food. Attention must be paid to the sweetness in a dish as it should never exceed the sweetness of the wine, otherwise the wine will just end up tasting acidic. Texture is also an important element such as slow-cooked food that can be matched to an older and softer wine. Finally, intensity of flavours should be on a similar par in both the dish and the wine so to help create that conversation.

Successful food and wine marriages won’t always happen but trying different things will help you understand the dynamics of it and, like in life, a divorce can often be a reason to start again.

Written by Christian Maier
January 24, 2017