When you’re bringing wine gifts to a dinner party, it can often be confusing when deciding on the best wine pairing for food. But knowing the right wine for the right occasion can make a huge difference to how enjoyable the meal is. There is little in life that perfectly complements each other as well as a great wine with the right dish.
Of course, taste is entirely subjective, but there are some things most of us can agree upon, so which wines suit various meals?
Wine pairing for spicy dishes
One of the main ways to choose a wine to complement a meal, is to look at what meat is being served. But with spicy food this is somewhat redundant. Spicy food often comes from countries where meat would spoil quickly in the days before refrigeration, so the spices themselves often disguise the taste of the meat. So we must instead pick a wine that will best match the spices used.
For curries (Thai and Indian), enchiladas, chilli con carne and anything with an overpowering hot flavour, we should perhaps pick an equally strong red, so that the flavour of the wine is not cancelled out.
For good red wine, take a look at the following:
M Chapoutier Les Meysonniers Crozes-Hermitage
Grown in the Northern Rhône Valley, this wine is something of a rising star. It consistently makes the lists of wine enthusiast’s top picks. It has a notable smoky, peppery punch that will not be downed out by a hot dish. It’s also a mid-range wine that’s not too expensive. It can be purchased through Sainsbury’s.
Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache
This Australian wine packs a fair punch, not least because of it’s high alcohol content. But this is a very juicy red that really jumps out of the glass. It has hints of dark cherry and raspberry. Grown in the Barossa Valley, it can be purchased fairly cheaply from Majestic Wines. It’s one of the more ideal wine gifts, because it won’t break the bank, yet is of a very high-quality.
For European pasta dishes, chicken dishes and fish
If you’re being served a creamy pasta sauce, a chicken dish or a fish meal, then white is the obvious choice. Particularly when the sauce is thick, dairy-based and white. If the sauce contains a lot of tomatoes or if the meat is red, then red may be a better choice to bring out the flavour, but for thick white sauces contained in many French and Italian meals, it’s got to be a white.
As a general rule for helping you decide, try and imagine whether the meal could have been prepared with either a white or red wine added to the sauce.
Some fantastic white wines are:
Jaspi Blanc Terra Alta
This is a Spanish white, which may sound an unusual choice to some when we’re talking about French and Italian dishes, but Spanish white wine has improved immeasurably over recent years. This is grown in Catalonia and can be purchased through The Wine Society.
Hugel Gentil Classic
This is a brilliant white, grown in the Alsace region of France. It’s notable for it’s strong aromatic, spicy flavour. You can pick this up through Tanners and also Cambridge Wine Merchants for just over ten pounds.
Salads, Vegetarian, Shellfish and meals without strong sauces
Rosé is a fantastic wine when giving wine gifts to sip in the summer sun, but there’s so little opportunity to drink it with meals. That’s because many strong tasting meals demand the pairing of a red or a white. But for meals which are relatively taste-neutral, like salads, shellfish and some vegetarian dishes, it’s the perfect time to bring a Rosé to dinner. A shellfish salad with mayonnaise served with a slice of lemon, will be perfectly complemented by a fruity Rosé.
The following wines are perfect for these summer occasions:
Nannette’s English Rose
This is a very sweet, fruity and slightly acidic Rosé that matches salads and shellfish perfectly. It’s grown in Kent, England (yes the English can make wine as well). It can be purchased from Bibendum Wine.
Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Rosé
Another wine that consistently makes people’s top ten lists. This Rosé can be purchased through Majestic Wines. It’s grown in the famous Loire region, France. It’s perfect for meals that are taste-neutral, as it has an exotic fruity taste that only becomes apparent after a while. With strong tasting dishes like red meats, white meats, spicy foods and other dishes, there’s always a danger that this fantastic flavour can be lost.