Throughout your wine journey, you have surely come across some infamous food and wine pairings. Think champagne & oysters or a rich, spicy red wine paired with a juicy Sirloin steak. These delectable pairings bring out the best in each other and the world has loved them together for years. But what is it that makes these classic pairings so magical? Find out below, and maybe you’ll also learn what to consider when dreaming up your own food and wine pairing!
Champagne & Oysters
Champagne and Oysters have been enjoyed as a luxury as far back as the 1700s. The science behind this is quite simple. Oysters are briny, slippery delicacies that is best complimented by a partner that neutralises this palate covering element. That is why we enjoy it with garnishes that have a high acidity like lemon or chilli flakes. The bubbles in Champagne have a similar effect on the brininess of the oysters.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Steak
Cabernet Sauvignon has a good backbone of acidity that contrasts the texture of red meats. It also has to do with the tannin structure of the red wine. If the wine is high in tannin, pair it with a steak that has a good amount of fat on its side. Tannin has an astringent quality, which will act as an cleansing agent when the fat of the meat covers your palate.
Sauvignon Blanc and soft cheeses
The beauty of this pairing lies in the delicate counter-reaction of each respective element. The goat’s cheese has a rich and tangy texture, with low acidity and mouth-filling weight. The Sauvignon Blanc cuts through this beautifully by contrasting the weight, texture and acidity of the goat’s cheese in every way. The high acidity cleanses the palate, relieving it from the heavily textured mouthfeel.
Top tips when creating your own food pairing
1.Balance it out
The tipping point of any good food and wine pairing seems to lie in the push and pull element that is added by both players. When enjoying a fatty dish, pair it with a wine that has high acidity or tannin. This will cleanse the palate from the overwhelming texture of the oily dish. Alternatively, if you’re enjoying a fuller bodied wine, like a wooded Chardonnay, pair it up with something more delicate, like shellfish or a creamy vegetable soup.
2.Find the similarities
The most classic food and wine pairings were discovered by chance, before the advent of science, (which only serves to help us understand why we love these pairs so much, by the way). For example, oysters and Champagne both have their roots in France. Both were enjoyed as a luxury, so it was only a matter of time before someone was pleasantly surprised by how well the two complemented each other.
3.Follow your gut…literally
While all these suggestions can be a helpful tool when trying to impress guests over the festive season, it is not the be-all and end-all of the matter! The purpose of exploring with different pairings is to find what you enjoy. So don’t be afraid to break the rules and follow your gut. You might just uncover the next Oysters & Champagne 😉