When it comes to wine pairing, the average person may feel a little bit lost and intimidated, deferring to the sophisticated wine connoisseur or sommelier. But that does not have to be the case as wine pairing really boils down to simple chemistry and the manipulation of flavours. There are a few basic rules that can help you get started within the fascinating and fun art of understanding how wine and food flavours interact on your palette.
Of primary consideration are the taste components or profiles in the food. Many guides narrow them down to 6-7 and these profiles influence what type of wine you might choose to accompany your meal.
Everything Wine lists 7 Taste Components in food that can be used to determine what type of wine to choose:
A general rule is that you do not want to pair a less sweet wine with a sweet food item. You may also want to avoid wines that have a high tannin content with sweet foods.
Exercise caution with wines that are high in tannins or contain oak with more savoury food.
Tannins become more enjoyable with salty cuisine.
Avoid pairing a wine with less acidity than the food.
Choose a wine that has a similar intensity of flavours to the meal.
A higher acid content wine is actually good in this case.
Hot and spicy foods do well with light, fruity wines with some sweetness.
Wine Folly’s Food Pairing Basics lists 9 Additional Tips to Reference when pairing. Some of these tips reinforce and expand somewhat on what we have learned above:
- Choose a wine that is more acidic than the food.
- Pairing wines sweeter than the food is ideal
- The wine and food should have the same or similar flavour intensity.
- Bold flavoured meals and red wines pair best.
- Light intensity meats (fish and chicken) and white wines pair well.
- Bitter wines (red) balance with fat.
- Match your wine with the sauce over the meat.
- Often white, sparkling & rose create contrasting pairings.
- Often red wines create congruent pairings.
Congruent & Contrasting (Complimentary) Pairings & Common Combinations:
Just like relationships, there are different types of pairings that are worthwhile. A congruent pairing amplifies shared compounds or similar flavours, while a complementary pairing deals with contrasting flavours and creating balance between them.
Tips for Wine Pairing with Vegetarian Meals:
When pairing a wine with a vegetarian meal, it is important to look at a few factors. If vegetables are a main focus, whites or lighter reds are the best. If the dish is particularly dairy centred, a richer wine may be in order.
In addition, are the vegetables involved root vegetables or mushrooms, or of the fresh or light variety? In the case of the former, a wine that pairs well with earthy flavours as in a Pinot Noir might be just right.
Learn More With a Culinary Experience at Ex Nihilo:
Want to delve further? Indulge and learn at the same time with a Culinary Dinner Series at Ex Nihilo’s CHAOS Bistro. Executive Chef, Danny Tipper will talk about the origin of the dishes and perfect wine pairings for each course. Visit our website for information on future dates and to book.
Celebrating Stars and Stripes | Artist - Debra Martin
What goes together as well as wine and an inspired charcuterie board? Why that would be wine and art actually, and you can find both at one of the Okanagan’s most charming vineyards, Ex Nihilo. Savour a glass of your favourite Okanagan wine while pondering an inspiring painting or sculpture at this unique destination overlooking Okanagan Lake in Lake Country, B.C.
Unwind II | Artist - Shannon Cross
The winery’s name was inspired by the Ex Nihilo, an original sculpture by Frederick Hart that adorns the west façade entrance of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC. On a trip to Napa Valley, founders Decoa and Jeff Harder came across a working model replica of the sculpture and were very taken with it. Ex Nihilo, Latin for ‘Out of Nothing’, is a message that very much embodies how the winery came to be, as it took some time for the dream to come to fruition.
Ex Nihilo | Artist - Frederick Hart
This foundation has grown into an ongoing dedication to supporting the local arts, and creativity permeates Ex Nihilo’s ambiance via an ongoing exhibit, CREATIO Ex Nihilo (“Created out of Nothing”). The gallery features works from across Canada, always including local artists. These artists, themselves, face the task every day of creating works that start “Out of Nothing”; from a thought, or inspiration, to an imagined piece on the canvas or other medium, as this is a fundamental element of creation.
Complimenting Ex Nihilo’s creative feast for the eyes, and tantalising wine profiles are the delightful culinary offerings of CHAOS Bistro, where visitors enjoy fresh and local ingredients with a farm-to-table concept. Here you can inspire your taste buds while surrounded by the exhibit that extends all the way from the tasting room and throughout the dining area.
Lady of the Lake | Artist - Reg Parsons
The exhibit operates in partnership with Gallery 421, and fresh content is added throughout the year. The focus is on professional and creative contemporary figurative and conceptual abstract art. Artists who would like to take part in the exhibit can check the website for submission guidelines, and a list of requirements.