Wine & Food Pairings: White Wine
I don’t know about you but when it comes to what wines to pair with what, I’m as lost as a shrimp in the sea. I usually follow the classic guidelines of white with white meats like chicken and fish and red with red meats like steak or lamb. Even then, you’ll usually find me googling before a dinner party what wines pair well with whatever the host is making. If they’re making fish AND red meat, all bets are off and I’m completely lost. And I know I am far from alone in this. To make it even more complicated, that old fashioned saying I’ve spent years living by doesn’t even come close to cutting it and I’ve apparently looked like a fool this entire time. Depending on seasoning, sides and marinades, you can pair a type of wine and even go as far as specify the region or country. With a little bit of reading, you’ll go from a panicked dinner party guest to the savior of the entire fling. So, let’s put down that “wine pairing for dummies” book and keep reading.
Because the amount of types of wine is vast and aplenty, we’re going to do these posts in a two part series. Starting with the light and airy whites and transitioning into perfectly pink roses and then the dark and daringly delicious reds, you’ll be a pairing perfectionist by the time we’re done rolling out this wine and food pairing guide.
This classically dry white French wine doesn’t come close to really relating to any others. Before you think that sounds like a headache, it actually helps you out a bunch because it’s so darn unique. For the basics, its aroma is a mix of earthy, herbal and fruity. Because of its strong herbal taste, typical food pairing for Sauvignon Blanc involve anything that is bursting with lovely green herbs like parsley, rosemary, basil, dill cilantro and mint. It also pairs well with coriander, saffron and turmeric, making it a great choice for any mild Indian dish. Per my old fashioned rule, stick to white meats and lean white fish with this one. And it wouldn’t be fair to include this French wine and not share its best cheese counterparts which include tangy goat cheese, yogurt and crème fraiche. Something they usually don’t tell you is that Sauvignon Blanc’s food pairing match is really tart sauces and dressings. For anything with a lot of bitter citrus top notes, opt for a bottle of this.
Since this is my favorite wine, I’ve been known to pair this with just about anything. Sinful, I know. To really play into the flavors of the food though, the slightly sweet and totally delicious Pinot Grigio goes swimmingly with light, non-fatty fishes like shrimp, tilapia, lobster, scallop, clams and more. Ones to stay away from with this particular kind are salmon, tuna and mackerel. When it comes to cheese, stick with very light, mild tasting ones like a mozzarella or a brie with a water cracker. One of my favorite things about this particular white wine is how well it pairs with some of my favorite desserts like key lime pie and pudding. Just make sure your desserts aren’t too sweet or complex or it’ll completely throw all the flavors off. Probably best to stay away from most things chocolate as the flavors will just drown in each other.
Now, when it comes to fatty fishes, this is the wine for you. The silky, dry white wine is a match made in food heaven when it comes to the heavier, slightly more complex tasting fish or foods. You can pretty much roll with that thought for most other pairings, like any sort of rich chicken or pork dish particularly those with a cream sauce. Caesar or avocado salads are also a unbeatable choice of a complimentary food. One thing to take into account with chardonnay is that there are lots and lots of different variations that won’t always pair well with your foods. When it comes to the ones we listed above, stick with inexpensive ones that hail from the south of France, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa.
This slightly sweet German wine is a frequent choice for many salty dinners. But if you want to take the most advantage of this crisp white wine you can follow this one tip: spicy food. There’s something in the wine that actually makes the sometimes overpowering spiciness of certain Indian and Asian foods much tamer and easier to handle. How’s that for a Riesling wine pairing?
For those of you out there who like the really sweet stuff that has a tinge of fizz, there are options beyond dessert. Many cheeses go perfectly with Moscato, especially medium to firm cheeses made of sheep or cow’s milk. But that’s not the most surprising pairing, not be a long shot. If there was one food and wine match to top all others it would be this wine and…wait for it…Chinese food. Szechuan, dim sum, pot stickers, fried rice, whatever you’re having we recommend you BYOB your own Moscato. This wine absolutely loves really aromatic spices like cardamom, ginger and chili peppers which Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food usually have by the plenty. Plus, since the sweetness is high and the alcohol content is low, you’re not going to get particularly loaded by guzzling bunches to cool down your palette. If you’ve ever had authentic Szechuan food, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The fact is, you will never find a better wine pairing with Asian food than Moscato.
And when all else fails, grab a bottle of Champagne. It goes with everything!