To the uninitiated it may not seem like a big deal, but to the connoisseur the thought given to pairing the right wine with the right food underpins the simple pleasure of enjoying a memorable meal.
That is why there are some cardinal rules to follow when pairing food and wine, considered an art by all culinary experts.
The reasons are simple. Firstly, you do not want your food to overpower the wine, the cost of which can range from clinching a good deal to the upper parameters of pricey.
If you have bought an expensive bottle of wine you want to be sure you receive the best value from it.
On the other hand, you do not want the wine to spoil the delicate taste of the dish prepared, given that some wines can be quite powerful. The underlying objective is to ensure the wine complements the food.
However, while there are some rules you can follow, let it be said from the start there is one given – and that is that ALL wine goes well with cheese and olives!
Of course, there is a massive variety of wines to choose from, but here are some ideas which may help you create a meal which will have your friends begging for more.
In terms of dry white wines there are two styles – those that are matured in oak barrels, for example the Habata Reserve Selection Chardonnnay and those that are not.
White wines which are not matured in oak barrels typically pair well with light meals since they have delicate fresh, fruity, floral aromas. Think of summer salads, light meat (chicken, sea food) and fruit salads.
These wines would include Habata’s Sauvignon Blanc and their Unwooded Chardonnay.
Oak-matured dry white wines tend to have more of a nutty, buttery and honey finish and would pair well with any creamy or buttery dish. Suggestions for these dishes would include butter chicken, alfredo or any other creamy pasta or creamy seafood.
When it comes to dry red wines, these are normally classified as being either a lighter style or a heavier style. Both styles pair well with red meat dishes, with some subtle differences.
Lighter style red wines – for example, Habata Cab/Merlot, which is an unoaked red wine – can be enjoyed with a steak salad, carpaccio and other meaty starter dishes.
Fuller bodied red wines along the lines of the Habata Reserve Selection Shiraz and Pinotage pair perfectly with heavier dishes, such as steak, veal, venison and leg of lamb.
Dessert wines speak for themselves. Varieties such as the Habata White Muscadel (Muscat de Frontignan), are a sweet (fortified) wine and naturally go with the final dish in a three-course meal.
For good measure, they are also perfect as a night cap on a cold winter’s day.
Of course, nothing is set in stone in the art of wine and food pairing because both are complex substances and tastes differ worldwide.
For instance, what do you do if you have a spicy prawn creamy pasta? Do you reach for the six-month French oak-matured chardonnay or the Sauvignon Blanc?
Why not make sure by having a bottle of each in your wine rack – then, surely, you can’t go wrong!