Here are a few guidelines to help plan the best wine for your meal.
Sweetness in food cancels the fruit and/or any residual sugar in wines, making them taste drier than they are. Sweet dishes call for wines of at least equal sweetness.
Choice: Antigua Creme Brulee and Antigua Dessert Wine
Salty or briny foods also cancel the fruit in wines. Salty dishes call for aromatic wines with high acidity, some sweetness, low tannins, and/or intense fruitiness.
Choice: Fresh Oysters in Champagne and Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wine
Tart foods cancel some of a wines fruitiness. Serve them with lightly sweet, very fruity, and/or full bodied white wines. In some cases, tart or crisp wines will also work well.
Choice: Endive Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and a crisp Chardonnay
Spicy or hot foods cancel some of a wines fruitiness too. Serve them with lightly sweet, very fruity, low tannin, and/or crisp wines. Stay away from higher alcohol, tannic red, and/or oaky wines.
Choice: Sea Scallops
Rich dishes overpower delicately flavored, lighter bodied wines. Serve with full flavored, full bodied, higher acid wines.
Choice: Braised Lamb Shanks and Cabernet Sauvignon
Fish and Game
Fish and game overpower mildly flavored, medium bodied, dry wines. Try these with very fruity, full bodied, high acid, and/or medium sweet wines.
Choice: Roasted Salmon with Pernod & Baby Spinach with Pinot Noir
Smoked foods overpower all but the fruitiest, richest wines. Low tannin, extremely rich, and/or moderately sweet wines are best here.
Choice: Applewood-Smoked Bacon Wrapped Buffalo Tenderloin and Merlot
Cheese and wine make a classic pairing. Match the 'weight' of the cheese to the wine, or vice versa. For a special after dinner treat, try contrasting a rich, salty cheese with a dessert wine.
Choice: Bleu Cheese and Antigua Dessert Wine or Port
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