Food and wine pairing
Food and wine pairing is not an exact science, rather an art. The high complexity of tastes in food, the nuances in the fragrances of wine and last but not least personal preferences makes the food and wine pairing a very personal choice. Nonetheless, there are some basic rules where the beginner can start. We would like to give you some suggestions to where to start in this ancient and sophisticated science with examples from the rich and varied repertoire of typical Veronese dishes.
Successfully pairing food and wine is a true art: it means creating an harmonic matching of flavours and aromas between food and wine so that each could enhance the organoleptic features of the other. Over the centuries many theories have been developed aiming at defining the basic principles to follow in order to achieve the perfect food and wine combination. The following are the basic guidelines identified by some of the many schools of thought.
Matching based on geographic location
This traditional approach pairs local or regional dishes with wines of the same geographic area in order to further enhance their natural affinity of flavors and aromas. Particularly suitable for this kind of pairing is the traditional cuisine of the Valpolicella area where wine is often used throughout the cooking process of traditional dishes, such as risotto all’Amarone or pastissada de caval.
Matching based on similarities
As a general rule-of-thumb, the body of wine should be in harmony with the structure of a dish. For example, strongly flavoured food works ideally best with intensely flavored wines, whereas mildly flavored food calls for light-bodied wines. This same principle can also be applied for balancing the heartiness of food: a hearty, flavourful and rich dish ideally calls for full-bodied, intensely flavoured wines with long length of flavour, which shouldn’t be overpowered by food. Vice versa, a light and mildly flavoured dish shouldn’t be overwhelmed by strongly flavoured wines; instead, it should ideally marry mild and light-bodied wines. Matching according to similarities is also particularly suitable for balancing the sweetness of food. The sweet flavour of food tends to overpower other flavours and, since dry wines don’t go well with the sweetness of a dessert, it’s customary to match a sweet dish with a similarly sweet wine.
Matching based on contrast
In accordance with the saying opposites attract, surprisingly pleasant results can be obtained by pairing food and wine of opposite flavours. This matching works best with strongly flavoured (hot or spicy) food that needs to be mitigated by the right wine. A fat and greasy dish, for instance, would find its happiest match in a savoury red wine that would cleanse the palate and lighten up the heaviness of the entrée. This criteria works well also the other way round: thus, delicate, light-bodied dishes, like boiled fish, for example, often need to be enhanced by dry white wines, such as Lugana.
Matching based on seasonal availability
This kind of matching is, in many respects, related to the matching based on geographical location: it is, in fact, strictly dependent on the seasonal availability of given wines to be paired with given food, whose availability is often limited to a few weeks. This matching works on the principle that dishes typical of the winter season are not likely to be prepared and consumed during the summer season, and vice versa. Summer temperatures, in fact, don’t easily call for a complex and vigorous red wine such as Amarone, which could find a perfect match in similarly complex autumn or winter recipes instead!
Matching based on individual taste
The match based on individual taste is simply determined by each person’s taste and personal preferences. Taste-olfactory perceptions are, in fact, highly subjective and strictly dependent on individual’s sensory experiences.