Wine Food Pairing the Easy Way
By Aura Rose
Pairing wine to the food you prepare shouldn’t be intimidating. It takes just a little knowledge of body and flavour and the courage to experiment.
Should the wine you serve be sweet, light, strong, acidic or downright earthy? How do you go about selecting the perfect wine? It might be quick and easy to pop by a neighbourhood wine store, but if you want to become acquainted with a variety of wines, to sample and compare before you buy, vineyard tours in Okanagan Wine Country are an unforgettable experience.
This is where you will find established wineries as well as new winemakers on their way to making a serious name in the industry. It is the perfect opportunity to learn about flavours, aromas and food pairings – all from hosts with a love of wine and a desire to share their knowledge and experience.
People who love to cook very often have a specialty dish. It could be a fiery pot of chilli served during the week or roasted breast of duck reserved for a special occasion. Whatever the food, you will be surprised how easily any dish can be brought to a new level when a well-chosen wine complements the meal.
Pairing a delicate fish or tender white meat with the bold flavour of a dry Riesling is sure to make the meal more than palatable. Or try a Rosé and add aromatic cloves of garlic, caramelized onions, or root vegetables into the mix.
Hearty beef ribs are delicious when Cabernet Sauvignon is added to the roasting pan, and Semillon drizzled over poached pears is a wonderful finish to any meal. Choose a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc to complement lightly seasoned prawns, grilled vegetables, chicken and pork.
Finding your wine tastes flat when you dig into a curry? Try a wine with a sweetness code of 2 or more, like a Gewürztraminer or a sweet white or red blend. This works because the sweetness in the wine complements the spice, coating your mouth in a delicious combination of flavours. Tomatoes, vinaigrette dressings and other acidic foods are some of the trickiest foods to pair. Matching these foods to the acidity of the wine is worth considering. Do you love salmon or grilled turkey? Lean towards a substantial white wine such as a Chardonnay, a Chardonnay – Semillon blend or Pinot Gris.
Fortunately for wine lovers rules are meant to be broken. Red wine served with roast turkey, instead of a classic white, is just one example. Pinot Noir and Merlot will go down well with chops, burgers and poultry; however, the most sociable wine partner is a Rosé. Like chocolate, Rosé goes with almost anything.
So what should accompany your signature chilli dish? This may not be the best time to uncork a bottle of your finest, but forgo your traditional ale and chose instead a nice Foch or Chardonnay. Surprisingly white wines also leave a favourable impression on this hearty comfort food. A fresh and tangy Gewürztraminer, a Riesling or even a late harvest wine (red, white or rosé) with its distinct fruity aroma can bring just the right ingredient to the table. Don’t forget to pour a generous splash into the pot while the chilli simmers and be sure each of your guests has a full glass to enjoy with the meal.
Keep in mind food and wine should be fun. In the end it all comes down to the personal preferences of you and your guests. And the best way to determine those preferences is to spend a day touring some of the wineries here in the valley. Like chefs, each wine maker has their own way of doing things, so it’s unlikely you’ll find an identical Chardonnay or Foch. And, of course, each winery produces only some of the many varieties of wines available
But you are guaranteed to experience some fabulous tastes. The reputation of BC winemakers is growing, and in glass-to-glass competition at home and abroad they are being recognized for producing award-winning wines. No matter what kind of wine experience you crave there’s something for everyone in Okanagan wine country. Tour the grounds, relax on the patio, or enjoy a picnic lunch while you learn about the art of wine making and sample the fruits of their labour.
Bon Appétit and Cheers to good food, good company, and great wine.
Aura Rose is the winemaker at House of Rose Winery in Kelowna. She and her husband took over the winery from her father in 2009, which opened in 1993.