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Some people have a natural knack for knowing which wines enhance which foods. Then there are the rest of us. To give you a leg up at your next soirée, I’ve asked a pair of experts to share two of their favorite summer food-wine pairings.
Jill Silverman Hough’s new book is 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love (Wiley, 2010). Hough starts with cheese, moves on to steak, and offers this advice:
You almost can’t beat Brie and Chardonnay – because both are, generally, rich and weighty. More buttery Chardonnays will complement Brie’s creamy qualities and crisper Chards will provide a mouth-cleansing contrast. If you want to go the pairing one step better, add more rich and creamy elements to your Brie – for example, 100 Perfect Pairings’ Baked Brie and Roasted Garlic in Phyllo.
And, there’s a reason why steak and Cabernet Sauvignon is classic. The big, full flavors in the meat match up to big, full flavors in the wine, and a steak’s fat can help tame Cab’s sometimes-big tannins (tannins create that dry-mouth sensation often associated with red wine). A dab of Dijon mustard can help seal the deal. Try a thin smear over a grilled rib-eye this summer.
Turn now to Jeanette Hurt, who has just co-authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine & Food Pairing (Alpha, 2010). Hurt discusses fried chicken and salads, and the wines that love them:
Fried foods and sparkling wine or Champagne are a match made in heaven - the effervescence of the wine clears the palate from the heaviness of the fried foods, and fried chicken is a traditional picnic, and often, Fourth of July, favorite. Sparkling wines also pair smashingly with potato chips...kind of a low-brow, high-brow pairing, but it works oh so well.
As far as salad and Pinot Grigio goes, salads - especially those made with a vinaigrette, need a light, acidic wine. Also, salads often have a degree of bitterness so you'll want to steer clear of anything with tannins, and instead pair them with a lighter wine, of which Pinot Grigio fits the bill.
Go forth, and pair with confidence.
What foods do you think pair well with wine? Chime in below!