The perfect pairing of a food and wine is one of those little pleasures in life, and knowing how to create that ideal match can elevate any dining experience whether it be a fancy meal out or a simple dinner at home. So often we focus on which foods match with which wines and why and of course, this is key to knowing how to select the right wine to serve with a particular food. Yet, equally as important is knowing which foods not to pair with certain wines or which foods really don’t lend themselves to being served with wine in general. In this second article of the series, Cucine d’Italia will focus, not on the ideal pairings that create a harmony of flavors as the previous article did, but on the impossible pairings or rather understanding which foods to look out for when choosing a wine to accompany a meal.
The foods which fall into this category of ‘impossible foods’ have in one form or another characteristics which make it highly difficult to bring out the best flavors in wines. When these foods are paired with wine they are actually capable of altering the flavor and can negatively impact the taste of a wine making it unbalanced and even unpleasant.
One general rule of thumb when deciding if a particular dish should or shouldn’t be paired with a wine is the predominance of a food that is strongly acidic, as is the case with lemons and vinegar. These strong acidic properties dominate over the softer flavors of the wine. Pickled foods are another example of a strongly acidic food that doesn’t pair well with most wines. So hold back on serving any sort of pickled vegetable as a nibble alongside a nice glass of prosecco.
Another pairing to watch out for is matching wine with a food that has a bitter or metallic taste. When served together they create an unpleasant flavor which lingers on the palate. Foods which fall into this category are: raw artichokes, raw spinach, roe and bitter chocolate. If you want to serve wine with these foods make sure that the artichokes and spinach are cooked and that the roe or chocolate are only present in small quantities as a final touch to a dish.
Remember as well when eating ice cream and other cold foods that the low temperatures of the food make it more difficult for our taste buds to sense the various flavors in the wine. Also, foods which contain liquors and spirits can be tricky to pair with a wine as are dishes that have grapes, citrus fruits or fresh figs as an ingredient. If, however, these foods are only barely there ingredients used in small quantities or as a garnish to a dish then no need to worry or avoid wine. In these cases, consider using the rule for Complimentary Pairings.